Theatre review: Outside In, Oran Mor, Glasgow

Katie Barnett, Christian Ortega  and Martin Quinn in Outside In
Katie Barnett, Christian Ortega and Martin Quinn in Outside In
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JAY is a timid lad who lives with his mum, and doesn’t go out much; not even to tackle the downstairs neighbour about the continuous meowing of his unhappy cat, or to buy a much-needed pint of milk. This quiet life takes a dramatic turn, though, when someone shoves a gun through Jay’s letterbox while his Mum is out working a late shift at Tesco; and the gun is followed in short order by Coco – a young amateur criminal put in charge of the shooter by some more serious local thugs – and by Coco’s favourite police officer, Kayleigh, who has been monitoring his antisocial behaviour for some time, but is now about to quit the force in a fit of existential despair.

Outside In, Oran Mor, Glasgow ****

This is the situation out of which well-known screenwriter Chris Grady conjures his second Oran Mor play, Outside In; and the result is a perfectly-sculpted little farce full of brilliantly unexpected and sharply perceptive absurdist detail, from the sudden revelation of the feisty personality beneath Jay’s timid exterior, to the genial Coco’s hilarious insistence that Jay follow the script for his would-be life as a Glasgow hard man, even though Jay has other ideas.

In the end, the two become firm friends; and with Cristian Ortega and Martin Quinn turning in a near-perfect pair of comic performances as the two lads, and Katie Barnett offering wonderfully sardonic support as officer Kayleigh, Sally Reid’s pitch-perfect production powers to a hilarious conclusion, full of perfect comic timing, wicked social satire and sheer generosity of spirit.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

Oran Mor, Glasgow, today, and the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 11-15 September.