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Jonathan Watson in 'Man's Best Friend', Play, Pie, Pint, Òran Mór.   Picture: Nicola Watson and Jonny Scott
Jonathan Watson in 'Man's Best Friend', Play, Pie, Pint, Òran Mór. Nicola Watson and Jonny Scott

Review: 'Man's Best Friend' - Play, Pie, Pint. Òran Mór

Written by Douglas Maxwell and directed by Jemima Levick

There really is no place to hide when you are the cast of one and surrounded, literally, by 120 members of the audience.

And credit to Jonathan Watson for holding his nerve in ‘Man’s Best Friend’ and taking us by the lead.

Douglas Maxwell’s third play for A Play, A Pie, and A Pint is an epic monologue of 8,000 words.

That anyone - referring to writer, actor and director - can engage strangers for 60 minutes with just one voice is a triumph of theatre.

And Watson, as Ronnie, the loveable yet flawed dog walker, is the leader of the pack.

His comic presence and the script’s pathos command attention like a dog at heel.

'Twists and surprises'

Ronnie has a tale to tell, which in large parts is wonderfully mundane and unremarkable.

But there are twists and surprises - and even a dead body - along the way.

Jonathan Watson in 'Man's Best Friend'. Photo: Nicola Watson and Jonny Scott
Jonathan Watson in 'Man's Best Friend'. Photo: Nicola Watson and Jonny Scott

The theme is rooted in Ronnie’s experience of pandemic and lockdown.

The direction by Jemima Levick (appointed as Artistic Director of A Play, a Pie and a Pint in April 2021) makes great use of Watson’s familiar and jovial persona.

A face so well-known from telly and stage (of course, most recently in the brilliant Two Doors Down) is transplanted to the round of an intimate auditorium.

He is telling us all personally about the dogs he walks and the things that go wrong (with laughs).

 

That anyone - referring to writer, actor and director - can engage strangers for 60 minutes with just one voice is a triumph of theatre.

'Man's Best Friend' - Review

 

His story touches on personal loss and tragedy, and the tale eventually comes full circle beautifully.

And the dog owners among the audience are fixed like an obedient pet.

Some not far from me have a tear in their eye remembering a fond best friend.

Two or three small prompts to pick up his lines in no way detracts from the flow and escape of the narrative.

Watson is professional enough to carry on seamlessly and deliver the next several-hundred lines triumphantly.

This is an understanding and deeply-appreciative theatre, with no edge and no pretence.

Hall of fame and the late David MacLennan, who founded Play, Pie, Pint.
Hall of fame and the late David MacLennan, who founded Play, Pie, Pint.

People here like the occasional ad-lib and unscripted aside.

It’s part and parcel of what makes Play, Pie, Pint special and unique.

When the play is done and the applause is still ringing in our ears, we emerge into the bright sunlight of a Glasgow spring.

'Rewards'

We smile and point as a dog-walker’s car goes by with the brilliant branding ‘Chariots of Fur’. How apt and timely.

Here’s to Ronnie, and his four-legged charges Coriander, Carlos, Rex and Albert.

Rewards all round for those who gave us ‘Man’s Best Friend’.

 

**** Four stars

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