The show must go on at Oran Mor

DAVE Anderson right now is up to his rouged cheeks in laughter, the actor/musician is currently performing this summer's Oran Mor panto, Maw Goose.

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Juliet Cadzow, Frances Thorburn, George Drennan and Dave Anderson rehearse a scene for Maw Goose at Oran Mor. Picture:  Mark Mainz
Juliet Cadzow, Frances Thorburn, George Drennan and Dave Anderson rehearse a scene for Maw Goose at Oran Mor. Picture: Mark Mainz

As always, Dave has been giving it his all, milking every line for comedy value, looking at every opportunity for a great sight gag.

But the challenge has been Everest-high this year. Just two weeks ago, Dave's co-writer, producer and most importantly his friend of thirty years, David MacLennan passed away.

How has he and David's wife Juliet Cadzow - who also stars in the show - managed to force smiles onto faces and hide the tears of clowns?

"Well, the show must go on," he says repeating the unavoidable, yet apposite cliche.

"But I have to say the first few days of rehearsal were very weird. Now, it's about getting it all working. And doing the show has kept us occupied."

Yes, the show. What of this reinvention of the Mother Goose story?

"It's a surreal enough story to begin with," he says of the panto. "And it was David who decided to do it. He wasn't wrong because it's a great story.

"At first we discover it's a battle between good and evil, the Good Fairy and the Demon King, who argue about whether people can be bought or not."

In these days of austerity, Maw Goose can't afford the rent, she's about to lose her job and she could go to jail because she's filled in her Income Support form incorrectly.

Meantime, her husband has mental health issues, the electricity is cut off. But just in the nick of time enters Priscilla, the goose that lays the golden eggs.

"The Good Fairy introduces Mother Goose as an example of all that's good in the world.

"The Goose lays the golden egg and although Maw gets rich she remains unspoilt. But when offered eternal youth and beauty she turns into a real nasty piece of work."

There's also a twist at the end when she goes to Goose Court for judgment.

"There was enough in this already without us having to do to much to it," says Dave of the story.

"What we wanted to do is bring in gags about the likes of the Commonwealth Games.

"And what we've done is instead of Maw Goose dipping in the Fountain of Youth, she goes off to a High Street tanning salon.

"But of course, it's a perennial tale, the dilemma of people being corrupted.

"And the drive for youth and beauty is all the more obvious these days, given the availability of plastic surgery."

Dave, who's hit play Butterfly Kiss is set to tour once again, will continue to perform. And he'll continue to write.

But he is still coming to terms with the loss of his friend. He's playing the role of someone who is just about coping.

Yet, he reflects on the fact he wouldn't have achieved so much in the past thirty years had it not been for his friend.

It was David MacLennan who suggested they kickstart Wildcat Theatre, and its synthesis of music, politics and story led to their relationship over ten years at Oran Mor.

"I thought theatre was middle-class nonsense," says Dave. "So much of it was often ludicrous. But when I saw 7:84's The Cheviot I realised it could be rock n'roll, and I realised David thought exactly the same way about theatre as me.

"He had the middle-class accent but his sensibilities were classless.

"He was as happy at the Miners' Welfare as he was at the Citizens' Theatre."

David MacLennan is still around Oran Mor. His influence simply won't go away.

"It's been happening during these rehearsals," he says of his friend's closesness. "You have to make cuts and re-write all the time and I've been thinking about what David would say."

He adds, grinning; "That's not to say we've always agreed. But we could go away and think about the other's opinion and we had a short hand which told us the time to say nothing."

Dave adds; "MacLennan invented this summer panto. He alone decided it was part of time-honoured Glasgow tradition - and now it is.

"And of course even in the most difficult times, he made sure the script was finished. As always, David took care of business."

l Maw Goose, Oran Mor, July 7-26.

Arts and Entertainment

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