Playwright Andy McGregor is a dab hand at bringing uniquely Scottish stories to the stage. Here he mines his own personal experience of being in a band that could-have-been-but-never-quite-made-it, to create Battery Park, the story of “the most famous band you’ve never heard of.”
Student Lucy, writing a dissertation on Brit Pop, approaches a middle aged, parka-clad guy in Greenock Bowling Club. He’s Tommy McIntosh, the creative force behind much-missed and much-debated local band Battery Park. Reluctantly Tommy lays out the full story of how a band with a record deal, who recorded an album in the same studios as Queen, who supported Radiohead at King Tut’s, and were on the verge of playing the mighty Barrowlands with Oasis, threw it all away.
McGregor has an enviable track record, with previous hits Spuds and Crocodile Rock, his work has been characterised by a clever humour around the pathos. Here the humour is laddish 90s banter, a bit broad, that elicits more laughs from the audience than is comfortable in 2023. Generally, the whole work has a more serious tone, but it isn’t developed fully enough. It sits a bit uncomfortably between serious play with songs and fully developed musical. The climax of the story comes too quickly and the reasons given for the band’s demise are a bit flimsy – you feel like giving them a good shake and telling them to get on with it.
The band’s live music co-written by McGregor and Isla Cowan is sound enough and played with vigour by the cast, the acting is entirely believable. There’s a ton of great material here, about the sacrifices we make for love and family; the loss felt through unfulfilled potential; the meteoric rise and mercurial fall of talented people, but you can’t help but feel that it’s just a small re-write away from greatness.
Runs until 30 September then touring | Image: Contributed