Theatre review: The Vampire Clinic

William MacBain and Barbara Rafferty excel in The Vampire Clinic
William MacBain and Barbara Rafferty excel in The Vampire Clinic
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THERE WAS more excitement offstage than on at Oran Mor last Wednesday, as the Big Yin himself – a very dapper Billy Connolly – rolled up with a television crew to film this latest lunchtime play by the veteran west of Scotland playwright Peter McDougall, who won fame in the 1970s with hard-hitting television dramas like Just A Boy’s Game and Just Another Saturday.

Oran Mor, Glasgow ***

Excitement, though, is not the main purpose of McDougall’s thoughtful new two-hander, in which Barbara Rafferty and William MacBain play two elderly people waiting for appointments in a hospital stroke and heart attack clinic. The action revolves around Sadie, and her inner dialogue about how to cope with the effects of her stroke, which has become a constant companion, almost another, unpredictable self; should she try to get her old self back, or treat the whole experience as a weird opportunity to be someone else entirely?

Findlay also describes his experiences as a heart patient; and when it emerges that both are involved in loveless marriages that effectively ended long ago, a new bond of friendship emerges, and perhaps something more.

There are questions to be asked about just how interesting the predictable miseries of old age are, as a subject for drama; and there are moments in this play, directed by David Hayman Jr, when it seems as if Sadie’s genial but fragmented speculations will just wander on for ever. There’s something bold, though, about this frank and poetic attempt to explore the complex inner life of those whose bodies are beginning to fail them; and a pair of brave and sometimes beautiful performances help to ease us through, to a thought-provoking and touching conclusion.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

Final performance today