27 Sep 2017 The Guardian

Drinking and thinking: raise a glass to Glasgow's plays, pies and pints

A Play, a Pie and a Pint review feature

IT defies all the rules of theatre marketing. Scarcely past midday on a Monday lunchtime, a full 45 minutes before curtain up, the queue for the box office is already snaking on to the road. Inside Òran Mór, a spacious pub-cum-performance venue in Glasgow’s West End, the line of ticket holders is even longer. They are here for A Play, a Pie and a Pint, a lunchtime series launched by David MacLennan in 2004 and not so much a success as a phenomenon. Nobody could have predicted its popularity back then, but today is typical. They line up like this six days a week for 40 plays a year (plus summer and winter pantomimes), almost all of them new with just a handful of classical adaptations. The tally to date is in excess of 400, making A Play, a Pie and a Pint a bedrock of the Scottish theatre industry.



18 October 2016 The Guardian

One Thinks of it all as a Dream

By Alan Bissett. A Play, A Pie and a Pint theatre review.

CHAPTER seven of The Wind in the Willows is called The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. As every good hippy knows, that’s also the name of the debut album by Pink Floyd, a prime cut of 1967 psychedelia so adventurously spaced out that it makes even the cross-dressing weirdness and trippy harmonies of the band’s first singles, Arnold Layne and See Emily Play, seem conventional by comparison. In his short eulogy to the Floyd’s wayward genius Syd Barrett, playwright Alan Bissett makes the connection between Kenneth Grahame’s children’s classic and the acid-damaged songwriter who would soon be forced to leave the band because of mental ill health. It’s partly that, like Little Portly, the missing otter in The Wind in the Willows, Barrett was “always straying off and getting lost, and turning up again”. But it’s also that, underscoring the band’s early work, there’s a very English streak of whimsy in the tradition of Grahame’s literary fantasy.


14 April 2015 The Guardian

Uisge-Beatha Gu Leòr (Whisky Galore)

Adapted by Iain Finlay Macleod. A National Theatre of Scotland/A Play, A Pie and a Pint theatre review.

THE SHIPWRECK that inspired Compton Mackenzie to write Whisky Galore took place in 1941 off Eriskay, the island north of Barra where, a decade earlier, he had built a house. For all his affinity with Scotland and love of the Highlands, the author was an outsider, brought up in England. It’s appropriate, therefore, that the one serious note struck by Uisge-Beatha Gu Leòr, Iain Finlay Macleod’s Gaelic-language version of the novel, is to do with who has ownership over stories

Guardian 5 February 2014

Rough Island

By Nicola McCartney. A Play, a Pie and a Pint/Mull Theatre review

THE conversation about Live Aid usually focuses on the unprecedented gathering of the world's rock music elite and the profile-raising benefits for Queen and Status Quo. Or we talk about the concert's effects on charitable giving and the change it made in the attitudes of rich nations to poor ones. Such concerns don't pass playwright Nicola McCartney by, but she goes a step further, in this co-production between A Play, a Pie and a Pint and Mull theatre, by presenting that day in July 1985 as a pivotal moment in British social relations.


22 November 2012 The Guardian

Astonishing Archie

By Bill Paterson. A Play, a Pie and a Pint review.

THEY discovered Elvis, they discovered sex, they discovered material wealth. Now the baby boomers are discovering death. The results can be maudlin and introspective – but not in the case of Astonishing Archie. Not only is Bill Paterson's three-hander perfectly pitched at a sell-out audience, but it is witty, self-aware and quietly observant about the way death makes us reflect on life.


23 May 2012 The Guardian

One Day in Spring: 24 Hours in the Middle East

A Play, a Pie and a Pint review

WHAT makes you a revolutionary, says Egyptian actor Sara Shaarawi, is "saying what you really think". There's a powerful sense in this irreverent compendium of voices from the countries of the Arab spring that to do that, however flippant or trivial your thoughts, is a luxury denied in a world governed by extremists and dictators.


18 October 2011 The Guardian

Juicy Fruits

By Leo Butler. A Play, a Pie and a Pint/Paines Plough review.

IF ever there was a character ready to leap into a sitcom it is Leo Butler's Nina. Played by Denise Hoey, she is the epitome of tactlessness, the old university friend who has learned nothing from her global travels except, perhaps, how to insult you in ever more charming ways. She is an expert in the inappropriate comment, the kind of woman who is not content merely to say her friend's eight-month-old baby is handsome without also calling him a "funny little fanny magnet".


2 October 2010 The Guardian

Good With People

By David Harrower. A Play, a Pie and a Pint review.

SAY what you like about David Harrower, but the author of Knives in Hens is not known for big laughs. Yet, here in the 199th lunchtime show produced by A Play, a Pie and a Pint (this time with Paines Plough), he uses his talent for high-precision dialogue to very funny effect. He also continues to explore the way the past haunts the present, as he did in Blackbird, and introduces a theme that recalls the political tension at the heart of Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding.


27 May 2010 The Scotsman

Still a Bigot/Federer Versus Murray

By James Barclay/Gerda Stevenson. A Pavilion Theatre review/A Play, a Pie and a Pint review.

ON ELECTION day, Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre staged Gordon Brown: A Life in Theatre, a hastily written, quickly rehearsed and very entertaining play about the outgoing prime minister. Running all the way through, like a motif in a tragic drama, was the phrase: "They should never have put me with that woman." Personally, I'm not convinced Brown's encounter with Mrs Duffy from Rochdale – aka "that woman" – was as damaging to his electoral performance as the press made out. I happen to like the idea of a politician prepared to condemn prejudice where he finds it, even if he might have missed the mark on this occasion. And, whatever the rights and wrongs, it is clear the question of bigotry is not going to disappear anytime soon.



20 May 2010 The Scotsman

Before I Go

By Ian Pattison. A Play, a Pie and a Pint review.

CHARLES Baudelaire was a 19th-century wild child who believed art should be free of morality. His romantic spirit is in ironic counterpoint to that of Nolan in this lunchtime three-hander by Rab C Nesbitt's Ian Pattison. Played by Ryan Fletcher, this young man is a dealer on the Cardonald crack circuit and his rebellious rejection of conventional ideas such as conscience and consideration for others is entirely self-serving. There is no poetry in his drug-pushing lifestyle.


27 March 2010 The Guardian

The Garden

By Zinnie Harris. A Play, a Pie and a Pint/Traverse review

I HAVE been at the theatre when an audience member collapsed, but never have I seen two keel over at once. Such was the unfortunate, not to say unlikely, scene at Oran Mor for this lunchtime performance, bringing Zinnie Harris's two-hander to a premature end. Having consulted the script, I realise we missed only the final few lines of a domestic drama that, like many plays in these apocalyptic times, is about the impossibility of a future.


18 March 2010 The Guardian

Battery Farm

By Gregory Burke. A Traverse/A Play, a Pie and a Pint review

IT is the democrat's dilemma: what if, having given someone a voice, you don't like what they have to say? That is the situation faced by Kate in Gregory Burke's apocalyptic comedy, a lunchtime collaboration between the Traverse theatre and the Play, a Pie and a Pint series. Kate is an undercover activist who has infiltrated a futuristic "contentment facility" in which old people are stored in life-support units before being fattened for human consumption. While freeing the occupant of row NN, pod 777, Kate is alarmed to discover he was responsible for the death of the environment.

24 February 2010 The Guardian


By Simon Stephens. A Traverse Theatre/A Play, a Pie and a Pint review.

I HAD assumed Simon Stephens would have reworked his short two-hander since the summer when the Traverse gave it a breakfast reading on the Edinburgh fringe. But here it is in a fuller but still bare-bones production for A Play, a Pie and a Pint, the lunchtime theatre season, with the same oddball charm and the same feeling that its deeper meaning is just out of grasp.

15 April 2009 Northings

Djupid (The Deep)

By Jon Atli Jonasson. A Play, a Pie and a Pint review.

A LIFE at sea is tough. Every fisherman contends with long days away from home, brutal working conditions and primitive domestic arrangements. It's the same in all northerly waters: the unforgiving sea does not care what country you have sailed from. That is why Jon Atli Jonasson's short, vivid and intense monologue will carry as much resonance for audiences in Halkirk, Skerray and Durness as it does for those in the playwright's native Iceland.

6 April 2009 The Guardian

Lucky Box

By David Harrower. Traverse/A Play, a Pie and a Pint review.

AS the younger character in David Harrower's drama suggests, Lucky Box is "some kind of fucked-up fairy story". It takes place one afternoon on a forest path where a middle-aged man in a suit is sitting on a plastic container, making it hard for 17-year-old Jack to get by. Played by Stuart Bowman, always an intimidating actor, the man is just the kind of big bad wolf your mother warned you about: tricky and volatile.

11 March 2009 The Guardian


By David Greig. A Play, a Pie and a Pint review.

DAVID Greig has long been fascinated by the contrast between public and private. His characters are always finding themselves in airports, stations and hotel lobbies, places where no one feels at home. This is how it is for conference delegates Lucy and Dan as they stumble into a chilly hotel room in a former communist state for a night of illicit sex.

14 November 2008 Northings

The Tobacco Merchant's Lawyer

By Iain Heggie. A Play, a Pie and a Pint review

IT'S common for writers of science fiction to travel to the future to tell us about the here and now. By contrast, playwright Iain Heggie has gone in the opposite direction, taking us to the Glasgow of 1780 to create a light-hearted play for today.The Tobacco Merchant's Lawyer is a monologue about a credulous lawyer, Enoch Dalmellington, who suffers his own personal credit crunch after investing in an ill-fated trade mission to Virginia.

3 September 2008 The Guardian

Mums and Lovers

By Ian Pattison. A Play, a Pie and a Pint review.

A PLAY, a Pie and a Pint is the most unlikely success story of Scottish theatre. Run by David MacLennan, a veteran of the 7:84 and Wildcat theatre companies, it has been attracting sizeable lunchtime audiences for the past four years. Indeed, so many people turned up to claim their pie and pint before curtain-up on Monday that the performance was forced to start late.

This is a sample caption