Oran Mor, Glasgow Mary Brennan *****
SPEAKING ill of the dead really isn’t the done thing – especially at the funeral, in full view of the coffin. But what if the unpalatable truth is hard to gloss over? Or the significant lack of family mourners speaks volumes: Sandy Munro, even in death, just wasn’t someone they wanted to encounter.
You could, perhaps, put that distancing down to Sandy’s speech at his daughter’s wedding – Oran Mor regulars might remember that veritable fiasco from Rob Drummond’s earlier play, Top Table (2011). Now Drummond has decided to bring us up to speed on Sandy’s life since then, by allowing us to witness his funeral.
As ever, it falls to Sandy’s big brother Andy (Benny Young) to tidy up after him. The whiff of cadaverous melancholy that Young brings to the role is deliciously grounded in the tradition of lugubrious ministers underpinning irreverent comedy. Not that Sandy wanted a religious sendoff. His farewell video (with Callum Cuthbertson reprising his 2011 role) is typically controlling, self-justifying yet somehow genial. Indeed, from Andy, we gather that Sandy was a walking disaster who honestly didn’t mean to wreck other people’s happiness. Incident after haplessly hilarious incident rolls out: if Drummond’s writing is mercilessly funny, Young’s comic timing is pitch perfect.
And then Anne, Sandy’s estranged wife charges in with her own version of Sandy and his “vortex of misery”. Joyce Falconer swithers magnificently between baleful, bewildered, even a little sorrowful as she itemises the manipulative behaviour of a man who seemingly couldn’t allow himself to be happy. More secrets and revelations pop out of the box, the comedy – directed by David Overend – escalates without losing momentum before the bitter-sweet twist in the tale, a moral if you like. Learn from Sandy’s disappointed life: embrace happiness whenever possible – and join loudly in the sing-song!
Presented in association with the Traverse Theatre
Benny Young (Andy) and Joyce Falconer (Anne) in Eulogy.