Presented as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Star Stricken a double bill of new comedy writing by Karen Barclay and Tom Brogan is certainly a bill of contrasts.
First up, Emily Entwistle by Karen Barclay pitches us headlong into the world of big business: a crisis has happened in an unnamed factory and corporate business solutions expert Elfrida (Frankie McEachen) is sent to sort the damage, with of course, less than successful results.
Heavy on the corporate speak (which considering the audience reaction was not a world we are as familiar with as the writer) and light on storyline and laughs, Barclay’s piece lacked cohesion and smacked a little of self-indulgence from the choice of heroines the play takes its name from to the I’m clever than you attitude which the writer seemed keen to demonstrate throughout. What did shine through was the talent of the actors, in particular Johanna Harper as Margo who deftly handled the machine-gun delivery of the complex dialogue, managing to raise what laughs there were to be had.
In contrast Tom Brogan‘s Good Times Never Seemed So Good is a sparkling little gem of a relationship tale set against the backdrop of the tribute act circuit.
Long-time loser with a big heart Mark (Paul Kozinski) has tried his hand at every daft scheme he can think of to make a living and girlfriend Laura is getting heartily sick of it: so she issues an ultimatum to pick something and stick with it, that something turns out to be a Neil Diamond tribute act. Despite no resemblance to the man in question and certainly filling the costumes slightly differently to Mr.Diamond, Mark soldiers on, climbing the ladder of success one slippery rung at a time. Just when he thinks it’s going to happen the ever-elusive big break remains out of reach. But what price fame? Is it worth losing the love of his life for?
Choc-full of laughs from start to finish this is a heart-warming little charmer. The references spot on the mark, completely relatable and met with roars of approval from the packed audience.
Ripe for TV adaptation hopefully it will have a life beyond the Comedy Festival and Brogan is certainly a name to watch for in the comedy writing world. A wee Scottish comedy gem.