Ida Tamson

IDA TAMSON ****

ORAN MOR, GLASGOW

THIS first stage play by the Glasgow crime novelist Denise Mina is another resounding success for the Play, Pie and Pint season. Ida Tamson is the story of a true Glasgow heroine, the middle-aged wife of a gangland drugs boss who has rejected her husband's ill-gotten wealth, and still lives in Barlanark with her two small grandsons, the children of a daughter who has herself become a tragic victim of drugs. In three short scenes, we see her in two conversations with an ambitious young woman journalist, who wants to tell her story, and one with the rival gang boss who has corrupted her daughter.

Although Ida Tamson is a sweeping story which is being developed for film, Mina makes a fine job of cutting it into this 45-minute stage format; the edited highlights of a much longer story. The presence of a big television star can sometimes unbalance a small Oran Mor show, but there's no danger of that here. Elaine C Smith is in brilliant, moving and superbly disciplined form as Ida, drawing on the richness of Mina's dialogue to a create an unforgettable character - damaged, clever, shrewd, surprising and strong. In Morag Fullarton's flawless and vivid production, she receives excellent support from Clare Waugh as the journalist, and John Morrison as her husband's gangland rival. There's something unfashionable about this play's happy ending, but Mina earns it, with the quality of her dialogue and the sharpness of her plotting. It's frankly a joy to see one of Scotland's finest writers and one of our biggest showbiz stars collaborating on a project so full of dramatic energy, character and promise.