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Collapsing Pianos and Raunchy Romps

Legendary critic Tristan Fabriani appraises Trystís two eventful shows in the SCDA Falkirk District one-act play festival.


The play has strong language, scenes of a sexual nature and is unsuitable for children.

Sex sells, and didn’t the festival promoters know this only too well when, in a cynical ploy to sell tickets, they slapped this lurid health warning on Tryst Theatre C’s Some Kind of Love Story, an erotically-charged game of cat and mouse in which private eye Tom O’Toole (yes that’s really his name) chases Angela, an ageing schizophrenic prostitute with multiple-personality disorder (yes really), round her bedroom.

Tom, played doggedly by Pacino-lookalike Brian Peterson, is by turns frustrated, world-weary, put-upon and addicted to Angela while Rhona Law, who plays the delusionary prostitute, prowls uneasily across her bedroom clad - like Helen Mirren in her prime - in a scarlet slip and shifting from child-like vulnerability to sexual aggression.

Unsurprisingly, there were queues round the theatre, and some people even slept overnight in sleeping bags and their cars to be sure of getting a ticket to see Angela get her kit off. But she didn’t! When it became clear that it was all pretty tame, with no legover whatsoever, minor scuffles broke out as outraged Grangemouth theatre-goers demanded their money back (a bit like people who went to the cinema to see The Artist and couldn’t understand why there was no dialogue. Cretins!)

But Festival Chairman Frank Murray was resolute and said: “You pays your money, you takes your chances.”

Which brings us neatly to Tryst’s other offering - A Night in the Ukraine, apparently the Marx Brothers’ movie the brothers never made. The curtains opened to clever strobe lighting and MGM music, and we entered a splendid set in the style of a classic 1930s Hollywood black and white film. Off we went in our balalaikas to Russia for a madcap comedy featuring all the famous Marx Brothers characters. Based on Chekov’s The Bear, Jim Allan played the tricky lawyer Serge B Samovar, the Groucho Marx character, who comes looking for money he is owed.

“Chaos, jokes and song ensue”, said the show’s publicity material. There were indeed jokes and song a-plenty, but unforeseen chaos was provided when the clearly overweight actor playing the piano-playing Carlo ill-advisedly threw himself across the top of his instrument, causing it to collapse spectacularly. Cunningly pretending it was all in the script, he carried on - albeit with two broken ribs and a rupture - oblivious to the fact that he had concussed his fellow actor Craig Murray playing the part of the mute Harpo…who, being mute, couldn’t point out that he was in fact concussed.

Fortunately, three burly St John’s Ambulancemen hit the Bowhouse stage to tend to him while the zany action continued around them (a bit like in an international rugby game when a player is down injured but play carries on regardless). The chaos continued off stage after the curtain came down, with Carlo squaring up to the hapless Stage Manager Jimmy Cairns, who built the piano, claiming he’d used “the wrong kind of screws” in its construction and that he was “about as much use as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking party”.

Once the dust settled, adjudicator Jim Gibson placed Some Kind of Love Story first and A Night in the Ukraine second. Some Kind of Love Story will next perform at the Eastern Division finals in Lochgelly at the end of March. No doubt there will queues round that theatre as Fife residents look for some raunchy X-rated romps from Law and Peterson. They will be sadly disappointed, as was I. - Tryst Theatre is a registered Scottish charity, No SC003303