Archive for August 17th, 2012




You know those irritating junk mail cheques which tell you that you are entitled to a vast sum of money? Well have you ever wondered what would happen if you actually tried to cash them. Well, Patrick Combs in San Francisco did exactly that as a prank with a cheque valued at $93,093.35 ($4OO,000 In today’s monetary values) –the exact value is very important to the tale- and was shocked and elated when the bank actually cashed the cheque and had not a legal leg to stand on when it came to reclaiming it. It is a fascinating tale and one which Combs relates enthusiastically and coherently to an audience made up of people who just love to see someone getting one over on the banks; as if there is any other type of person in the current financial climate.

The bulk of this one man monologue centres on Combs’s disbelief at the situation he found himself in. His mother fears for his safety and his brother tells him that there is no way the banks will let him away with it. Seeking legal advice he manages to contact an expert who tells him that as sufficient time has lapsed he ‘has the bank by the balls’ and the money is now legally his.

The bank have other ideas however and rather than acquiescing by writing a letter claiming the fault lies with them engage Combs in a protracted legal argument which would be solved if they merely admitted blame, apologised and paid him the five dollar reward they automatically pay out to any customer who proves them wrong. As banks seldom-if ever- admit they are wrong this results in some highly amusing tactics on Combs’s part including fooling them into writing a cheque for the exact amount- very important fact- and shifting this to a safety deposit box.

At this juncture the bank really turned the heat up and to draw attention to the situation Combs contacted the media who jumped on the story and it immediately became world wide headlines. The story doesn’t end there but it would be wrong to divulge anymore as this would spoil it for anyone going to see it.

Man 1, Bank 0– just one of the headlines attributed to this tale- is an entertaining seventy five minute show. Combs obviously loves performing and narrating his taleall the while throwing himself around the stage gesticulating with gusto whilst using t-shirts as a means of indicating his rapidly changing status and moods. It is definitely one up on the banking system which ultimately is there to protect itself whilst doing us over at every opportunity. It is a heartening tale of a prankster who took on the system as a bit of as jape and subsequently found himself being taken very seriously indeed.



I,Tommy- Gilded Balloon 3.15pm


 This interpretation by writer Ian Pattison of the far left’s new great hope in Scotland, Tommy Sheridan- performed by Red Aye productions- is an attempt to tell the rise and rise of the charismatic politician before the sex scandals, fame and perjury gave him the recognition he didn’t need and brought him to the public’s attention in ways he never could have contemplated. Told through the eyes via the memoirs of associate and former acolyte Alan Mc Combs I, Tommy is the downfall of a politician who had everything and fell for the trappings of fame which swiftly led to infamy. The central performance of Sheridan as portrayed by Des Mc Lean is extremely credible and the driving force of the whole drama but unfortunately the other performances are capable enough but not in the same league.

The tale begins around the time Sheridan started to come to the notice of his fellow socialist party members. We are left in no doubt that he is very much loved by the ladies and that this feeling is more than reciprocated. Straight from the beginning the die is cast and we are aware that sexual proclivities with the fairer sex are going to play a leading part in his downfall.

Meanwhile, however, his political career is going from strength to strength and for the first time in decades through his involvement and becoming the new poster boy the Socialist party is gaining not just credibility but more importantly the support and votes of the public. Firmly installed as an MSP it seemed as if Sheridan was unstoppable but at this juncture rumours about his attendance at and participation in sexual swinging scenes started to crawl out of the woodwork and into the press, in particular the now defunct News of the World.

What followed was a defamation of character case which Sheridan won but this was succeeded by a counter claim from the newspaper which saw Sheridan charged with perjury. After he and his wife were found guilty he was sentenced to three years imprisonment but was out within a year. The story of Sheridan then is a typical one of idealistic values being turned by the fame game. He was not the first-nor will he be the last- and his downfall was so spectacular as he had scaled such great heights in such a short time and gained substantial number of believers along the way.

 I, Tommy does the script justice but somehow misses the mark. It is a more than adequate production and the tale is an interesting, if familiar one, but, on occasion it lapses into parody and seems too full of bluster to be taken seriously and not sharp enough to be truly funny either. Thus it splits itself down the middle between comedy and drama and compromise is not something normally associated with the dogmatic and determined Tommy Sheridan



Slice by Mel Giedroyc –Gilded Balloon 1pm


 This production of Mel Giedroyc’s dark comedy Slice is a oud, brash show which has moments of humour, moments of melancholy and moments of confrontation. Basically the tale of three sisters reunited for the first time after several years have elapsed, the drama unfolds as their comatose mother lies in the next room close to death. Revelations and putdowns are the order of the day with at least two superiority complexes engaged in battle with each other.

The three sisters in question-Victoria the spinster, Charlotte the maternal one with five children and wayward elder sister Madeleine- each harbour resentments toward each other. Gradually tales including their mothers adultery at Victoria’s tenth birthday party, varying opinions on parenting skills and resentments over stolen boyfriends all emerge with the repercussions that each of the sisters is in some way damaged through their convoluted  familial relationships.

The performances in this production however are not always convincing. I spelt some time trying to decipher why Madeleine spoke with a bad American accent occasionally lapsing into a Scottish brogue for no apparent reason. It became clear about halfway through that this was part of her character make up but unfortunately up until that point it had just served as an irritant. Likewise Charlotte’s insipid earth mother was a bit overplayed and Victoria’s hysterically baking spinster role was rarely believable. It is a drama of the old fashioned kind however so, in many ways, this is how it has to be played as it is what the material demands.

Slice is a bit like the sponge which is being baked at the beginning of the show. It is light, airy, and pleasant enough but half an hour later you have forgotten all about it.