Review: Oopsy Daisy at Katzpace

A dark comedy about sex, power and friendship, Oopsy Daisy is the story of two strangers brought together first by coincidence (and too much rosé), and later by an impulsive decision that will change both their lives.

Jo (Holly McFarlane) is a well-known actor and celebrity who finds herself, to her consternation, sharing an Uber Pool one night with Jamie (Rory Fairbairn). He’s also an actor, but a far less established one, and he can’t believe his luck when Jo announces she’s going to get him a role in her latest film. But her loneliness and his ambition prove a dangerous combination, and what seems in the moment to be a fun, naughty idea backfires spectacularly. Can they save their careers and their friendship – or has one bad decision cost them everything?

Photo credit: Maria Shehata

Written by Holly McFarlane and directed by Mat Betteridge, Oopsy Daisy is a witty and very current piece of new writing that nonetheless packs quite a punch when it needs to. The play explores – though not unsympathetically – the things that successful people might be willing to do to stay on top, even at the expense of those they claim to call friends. It also exposes the less glamorous side of fame; Jo may be a success in a lot of ways that matter to other people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s any happier than Jamie. Stuck in a soulless hotel room, isolated from her friends and husband and living out of a suitcase, we can’t blame her for seeking a bit of excitement – even if her later actions prove more difficult to forgive.

The on-stage relationship between Holly McFarlane and Rory Fairbairn is perfectly executed and totally convincing, both in moments of humour and of tension. Both characters have depth to them – it would have been easy to paint Jamie as a hapless victim of Jo’s whims and manipulation, but instead the fallout from the incident presents an opportunity for him to reveal a much darker side, and for the balance of power between them to shift dramatically in the second half of the play.

With references to the likes of Game of Thrones, James McAvoy and – of course – Uber Pool, and less direct nods also to #metoo and the power of the press to make and break careers, from the start Oopsy Daisy feels very current. The fateful decision at the heart of the plot may be inspired by a rumour about a 40-year-old movie, but the themes of the play are very much of 2019 – or perhaps it’s just that when it comes to the pitfalls of fame, not much has changed in the last few decades. Either way, this is a funny, fast-paced play featuring two excellent performances; hopefully this short run at Katzpace won’t be the last we see of it.

Oopsy Daisy is at Katzpace until 20th November.

Review: Serve Cold at Katzpace

The programme notes describe Mark MacNicol’s Serve Cold as a “cracking wee script” – and I think I’d have to agree. When two women – one a prostitute, the other a doctor – meet one night on a bridge in Glasgow, a chain of events is set in motion that only one of them could have foreseen… and it’s not necessarily the one we might expect. Darkly humorous and unapologetically twisted, Serve Cold makes us question our assumptions and reflect on the lengths some people, even those we think of as “respectable”, will go to in the name of revenge.

Concerned that Joy (Paula Gilmour) is about to throw herself in the river, Grace (Anna Marie Burslem) stops to try and talk her out of it. The two end up back in the attic that Joy calls home, where events take an unexpected turn as she reveals calmly that she’s been stalking her ex-boyfriend in a variety of unpleasant and twisted ways. Tonight is the grand finale – if Grace is willing to do her part, that is.

Photo credit: Liz Isles Photography

MacNicol’s storyline at times strains credulity a bit, but PJ Stanley’s production is consistently excellent. Serve Cold is driven by its characters, and the performances from Anna Marie Burslem and Paula Gilmour are right on the money. Grace has every reason to be mad at the world, but her innocent, almost childlike determination to see the positives in everything and everyone around her means she’s the one we instantly warm to and root for throughout the play. She has no filter; she says what she thinks and doesn’t try to hide her growing discomfort (which matches our own) as the evening progresses and humour turns to horror.

In contrast, Joy is the picture of calm professionalism – alarmingly, even when discussing in detail all the shocking things she’s done to her ex – and displays a truly psychopathic lack of remorse. It’s chilling to reflect that this is a woman countless people entrust their lives to every day – people who would probably turn their backs on someone like Grace if they saw her in the street. It’s testament to Paula Gilmour’s performance, however, that we find ourselves unable to hate Joy completely; every now and then we catch a small glimmer of humanity behind the mask, and the play’s conclusion is actually oddly heartwarming – albeit in an extremely dark and messed up way.

Photo credit: Liz Isles Photography

It’s not only in personality that the two women are worlds apart; a recurring theme of religion (their names are, I suspect, no accident) looks at two very different ideologies when it comes to retribution. While Grace lives in constant fear of going to “the bad fire”, a hangover from her evangelical Christian upbringing, Joy is a great believer in doling out more earthly punishments – ironically, by subscribing to the biblical principle of an eye for an eye.

Though its short two-day run at the appropriately atmospheric Katzpace is already at an end, Serve Cold is the kind of play that’s not that easy to forget. Gripping and disturbing, it boasts two fantastic performances and provides a good amount of food for thought – but more importantly, it makes you think long and hard about going anywhere near the attic any time soon.