Theatre

Voices in her Ear

Oran Mor, Glasgow

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Mary Brennan

three stars

THIS week,there are spirits to go with the pie and pint – well sort of, as glittery-garbed Betty (Alison Peebles) gives her all as the medium with messages from the “other side”. Is there anybody there? Apart from the droves who pay top dollar for crumbs of cliche’d comfort from Betty’s “voices”, that is.

Peebles simply oozes glutinous, couthy sincerity, as Betty hazards the names of hopefuls longing for reassurance that the dead are truly happy and at peace. So who is the woman at the side of the stage, with clipboard and headset? That’s Siobhan (Neshla Caplan) the only voice in Betty’s ear, feeding her info previously gleaned from bereft, confiding punters.And it’s the briskly business-like Siobhan who has arranged for Betty to give a post-show private reading to Mark (Andrew Still) in her dressing room. Was this wise? Has Mark a hidden agenda?

It depends on how much old-fashioned drama you’ve seen on stage and television whether or not David Cosgrove’s plot-twists spring any surprises. On the off-chance, I won’t give any clues away. However, any tension that does build is, in the main, thanks to the persuasive Peebles. Is Betty just a money-grubbing con artist, or is the supernatural “gift” still with her? Cosgrove’s writing hedges those bets, but Peebles puts interesting flesh on the bones of possibility. Knocking back the booze, complaining of burn-out, talking of retirement – Peebles lets slip Betty’s faux-bonhommie just enough to reveal a genuinely weary woman. But when she encounters Mark, a whole host of other Betty-faces come into play: fear, wily cunning, self-preservation. Whether Betty hears voices or not, she’s still haunted by her past. Director Libby McArthur ensures the pace doesn’t flag, and by the end, regardless of whether Betty is a fake or not, you’ve seen the real deal in Peebles.

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