The Vampire Clinic

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Mary Brennan, four stars

Those of you familiar with Bram Stoker’s Dracula will know that “the blood is the life...” It might not, however, have occurred to you that Stoker is an anagram of ‘stroke’ – a co-incidence that sees a stroke monitoring/blood-testing unit being ironically nick-named the Vampire Clinic by regular attenders. Findlay (William MacBain) is a first-timer. Sadie (Barbara Rafferty) has been coming once a fortnight for some time. In the course of Peter McDougall’s bitter-sweet comedy, the couple will discover that they have more in common than a life-changing illness -– and because, sometimes, a persistent cloud is harbouring a silver lining, this unforeseen encounter looks likely to have two (dicky) hearts beating as one before too long.

McDougall’s own recent poor health - including a stroke, two years ago - has taken him under the skin of a malaise that frequently disorientates the innermost sense of ‘self’. And it’s this ongoing feeling of detachment - coupled with a confusion over who you are now - that colours Sadie’s opening monologue. Rafferty’s Sadie – dressed to the nines, all bright smiles and upbeat manner – is set on making the best of unwelcome circumstances. MacBain’s Findlay, a genial big guy who’s battling new fears on his own – his wife having left him - is soon on the receiving end of Sadie’s hands-on approach to coping. She’s very touchy-feely is Sadie – a wee pat on the hand, an arm round a shoulder. Overtures that might upset some, but not Findlay: his stroke has – no matter how he tries to joke about its aftermath – left him vulnerable, uncertain, in need of some-one who understands what he’s going through. Brisk medics have a handle on the clinical details, but Sadie has the hug that says ‘you’re not alone.’ Sentimental? Well, why not? Love, remember, is a drug as well as the prescribed Warfarin – Findlay will probably benefit from both.