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Richard Conlon and Ewan Miller in 'Milkshake'  Picture: Jonny Scott
Richard Conlon and Ewan Miller in 'Milkshake'Jonny Scott

Review: “Milkshake” - A Play, A Pie, And A Pint. Òran Mór

Written by Rob Drummond and directed by Finn Den Hertog

I’m chatting to a man in the queue for the bar. I ask if he is a regular at Play, Pie and a Pint, and he says not until last week.

“We came with friends and loved it so much we came back this week. We’d never been before then.”

The celebrated pub theatre is well into its spring season. Bite-sized helpings of theatre served with savouries and washed down with beer.

No wonder people who sample it once immediately want to come back.

For those who don’t know, the PPP philosophy is simple: original drama, in an intimate and informal setting, with professional actors, writers and direction. Audiences get to see a new lunchtime play every week, running from Monday to Saturday.

Performances start at 1 o’clock, and you are merrily out the door and walking up Great Western Road by 2 (unless you stay for another pint or two, of course).

Gripping

And “Milkshake” is a good moment to pick up the latest run of weekly plays under artistic director Jemima Levick.

Ewan Miller and Richard Conlon combine in a gripping clash of political beliefs and perspectives.

Richard Conlon and Ewan Miller in "Milkshake"
Richard Conlon and Ewan Miller in "Milkshake"

A right-wing politician (Richard) and a left-wing activist (Ewan) come together at a restorative justice session. A confrontation involving, yes, who’ve guessed it, a milkshake, has brought them to the same emotion-charged room.

When the moderator doesn't show they take it upon themselves to conduct the session without supervision.

Any sense of who is the victim and who is the perpetrator is pulled and twisted over the course of an impressive duologue.

Writer Rob Drummond (a writer of six previous shows for Play Pie and a Pint, including Eulogy and The Mack) roots his themes in the current political landscape of contentious benefits policies and the backlash of liberal opponents.

 

For those who don’t know, the PPP philosophy is simple: original drama, in an intimate and informal setting, with professional actors, writers and direction. Audiences get to see a new lunchtime play every week, running from Monday to Saturday.

"Milkshake" - Review

 

That the two sides of the debate should confront each other within the four walls of a deserted consultation room, leads to some laughs and many more tense and awkward exchanges.

The direction by Fin Den Hertog is measured and compelling as the narrative unfolds and the sway of arguments plays out like a court case, with the notion of “justice and revenge” at its heart.

Who has the upper hand is not revealed until the final moments of the play, and the ultimate twist is revealed.

While the pie and pint have long disappeared, the power of the play comes to the fore in its final actions.

Memory: David MacLennan, who founded Play, Pie, Pint
Memory: David MacLennan, who founded Play, Pie, Pint

Lunchtime theatre: a great way to break up the home-working routine and to escape, briefly, a world increasingly difficult to navigate.

Given the experiences of lockdown and pandemic, we should never take creativity and live performance for granted.

And all this on our doorstep in the West End. Cheers.

**** Four stars

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