An Apple a Day

Jo Clifford
A Traverse and Òran Mór production
A Play, a Pie and a Pint Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
(2009)

A Play, a Pie and a Pint publicity image

My vegetarian haggis pie was this week washed down for the first time with a pint of beer, I've been abstaining from alcohol for Lent. This is, sadly, the last of Òran Mór's 'A play, a pie and a pint' series at the Traverse.

The play, like my pint, was quite dark though not in a morbid way like previous weeks' supernatural offerings. The dish of the day was of a sexual nature on a bed of an unusual fetish.

A church of Scotland minister visits a transsexual prostitute. A scenario that may first appear like a deliberate attempt to stoke up controversy actually barely makes one bat an eyelid and is of only minor importance to the plot.

It is refreshing that the two characters rather than clashing are merely awkward with each other. Both the acting and the costume introduce the two characters in a subtle way that avoids pitfall of a Carry On style sex comedy.

Crawford Logan is the minister, and though this gets quite a laugh when first mentioned, there are far more interesting sides to his personality than his profession. David Walshe is clearly a man trying to be a woman, while the femininity is exaggerated it never slides into drag.

At first I did feel Walshe was playing up the feminine flirtatiousness and Logan the awkwardness a little too much, but both these flaws were part of the performances and were addressed later on. Yet again, despite the short lunchtime performance running time, plenty was packed into the characters.

The minister's initial awkwardness is replaced by a hunger for satisfaction as he gradually explains his fantasy to the prostitute. Until it she is the one feeling slightly awkward unsure exactly what to do.

The fetish involving apples and burping, replicating an incident in the minister's German childhood, is suitably creepy though the build-up was such that one was perhaps expecting greater repercussions.

The minister, coming alive after his initial awkwardness and silence, was well developed. However that was slightly at the expense of the other character. She, and in the programme that is her only name, was left with little to do, apart from react and this meant the play lost some of its vitality and energy later on.

While the minister through his fetish explores his childhood, the potentially more interesting trans prostitute and her history is left underdeveloped. She was a teacher, that much is clear, but a little more about her life might have given the play more depth.

In a short play though, there is not time for each character's life story, so it is perhaps an unfair criticism of what was an entertaining short narrative. It did what a short play can and should do, which is to surprise and to provoke thought.

It was also made an interesting companion to the other plays of this series, all of which have involved the interaction between two people (Poem For October was effectively a duologue performed by one). This combined both the sexual and the bizarre where others had just had just stuck to one.

So no more juggling glass, fork and pen for me, but I look forward to the return of the jolly trio.

'An Apple A Day' until 18th April 2009
'A Play, a Pie and a Pint' until 18th April 2009

Reviewer: Seth Ewin