The Spuds online stream opens abruptly, amid cast repartee and audience sniggers, like we’ve missed the start of a play in full flow. We haven’t. It’s just pre-show atmosphere for Andy McGregor’s raucous Glaswegian musical comedy and a local audience that are well up for it.
Richard Conlon plays David MacGonigle, a low-earning newsagent whose well-off wife’s near immediate on-stage death puts his fancy West End flat and lifestyle under threat. While drunk, he accidentally discovers the hallucinogenic properties of chip-shop chips infused with budget brand Iron Brew and his problems are solved. He can make a mint flogging Scotland’s newest drug to the masses! With the co-operation of chippy owner Toni (Darren Brownlie) and egged-on by his high-spending daughter (Dawn Sievewright), he soon has them queueing down the street to get their hands on his Spuds. As long as the authorities don’t get wind…
Daft and hole-filled as the plot is, it doesn’t matter a jot. It sets up some rip-roaring musical numbers, heaps of classic patter and brings out top performances from the cast. Brownlie’s wildly exaggerated Toni is the comic lynchpin. It feels a little OTT on film, a case study in stage acting vs screen acting, but his ad-libs add vitality and there’s no danger of the show losing momentum with him on stage. You can detect the positive effect he’s having on the room. Conlon and Sievewright make great counterbalances and the father-daughter dynamic adds a light emotional edge to the otherwise farcical goings-on.
Musical Director Gavin Whitworth has done a grand job too. There’s no half-measures here. For a lunchtime play, with only keyboard backing, the numbers are full-on and the vocals are full-throated. There are ballads, comic knees-ups, even a rap from Sievewright. There’s a barnstorming showstopper to finish, Sievewright belting it out like her life depended on it, which, in a sense, for her character it has.
It’s all completely ridiculous of course, and built around deep-fried Scottish stereotypes, but it’s a lot of fun, even if you’re not high on this oddest of designer drugs.