By Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin reviews the penultimate and final performances from the 2022 Play/Pie/Pint season at Òran Mór.
On World Refugee Day, Òran Mór hosted one of their most touching and politically important plays of their Play, Pie, Pint season. The Words, written by Maryam Hamidi, is an achingly honest tribute to refugees, their children, and what it means to belong.
Directed by Catrin Evans, the play journeys us through Iranian refugee Ashraf (played by Mohsen Ghaffari)’s Home Office interview, while interpreter Nahid (Saba Amini) translates his story of survival in real time. Two years later, the characters cross paths again at a workshop for refugees (coincidentally on the same day Ashraf is to find out if he and his family have been given citizenship or not).
The power of listening to words, rather than just hearing them is an important aspect of the play. In a Home Office interview, words can weigh more than most of us can ever imagine. ‘The details are important’ Nahid repeatedly translates to Ashraf, as he accounts the story that led him to the UK. Hamidi’s intricately woven script and elegant way with words had the audience of Òran Mór’s basement theatre holding a collective breath.
Amini and Ghaffari’s onstage presence was magnetic. The actors represented two generations of refugees- Ashraf, who made the journey just two years ago as an adult, and Nahid, who made the journey to the UK as a small child, and therefore has lived almost all her life in Scotland. The difference in the character’s definition of ‘belonging’ is a complex and important part of the narrative. Nahid feels she belongs (having lived most of her life in Glasgow) and doesn’t need to be ‘welcomed’ by anyone to the United Kingdom, and Ashraf feels like an outsider due to the language barrier as a recent refugee.
Both 3-dimensional and captivating characters carry this heavy but undoubtedly important play that should be considered one of the most topical performances of this season’s ‘A Play, A Pie and a Pint‘.
A musical/comedy fuelled by genius song writing and engaging storytelling, Noisemaker’s Play/Pie/Pint debut shook the walls of Òran Mór’s underground theatre and brought the phenomenal season of shows to a close.
Directed by Jemima Levick, SCOTS recounts the heroic histories and hopeful happenings of the nation. Tyler Collins carries the show from start to finish, narrating the performance as Scotland’s first toilet (he’s seen a lot of sh*t). The toilet/storyteller keeps us laughing as we learn and are journeyed from a time before the Land of Scots to our country in the present day.
Despite its abundance of toilet jokes and cheap gags, the musical doesn’t come across as tacky, and picks up in both pace and energy as it proceeds. From famous Scottish inventors to Caledonia’s overlooked heroines, SCOTS is an hour packed with nonstop laughs and a several catchy numbers.
Noisemaker’s showtunes do not only have a light-hearted educational element, but the show also carries a political weight. With the history of Scotland comes tales of feminism and LGBTQIA+ rights, that lead the audience to ponder and reflect over how far we’ve come, and where we need to go.
With a larger cast than we’re used to seeing at PPP (and more showbiz-style tunes) Scots feels like a refreshing change of pace for the end of the year’s performances.