Brian Beacom

THEATRE has the power to surprise, to shock and hopefully to entertain.

And theatre in Glasgow in 2017 revealed all of this.

The year began with an early delight with a theatre play about a day in the life of Jocky Wilson, who won the World Professional Darts Championship in 1982.

His story, or at least part of it, was told in the Oran Mor play Jocky Wilson Said.

Written by Jane Livingstone and Jonathan Cairney, the play was set in 1979 when Jocky was on his way to an exhibition darts match in Los Vegas and found himself stranded in the Nevada desert.

Grant O’Rourke played Jocky to perfection, even incorporating a jutting jaw line into his performance.

And it all made for a great piece of theatre.

Andy Paterson’s Sex Offence came into the same category.

The Renfrewshire-based writer clearly has a crystal ball for a brain because he anticipated the flood of sex abuse claims before the avalanche.

Sex Offence is the story of a corrupt cabinet minister and a ruthless tabloid editor who cross swords over a historic abuse allegation.

The play, which ran at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was stark and revealing, it was nuanced and bold. It examined the questions of complicity and responsibility.

But it’s not just the smaller theatre stage that can provide great entertainment.

The Addam’s Family Musical came to the King’s Theatre in October and although half-hour sitcoms generally fail to transfer to a two hour format, this show proved a hit.

Samantha Womack was terrific as Morticia, an actress who understood how to get a great deal out of doing a little.

“On stage you have to find a way not to make her simply stand there in the archetypal pose with one eyebrow raised,” she offered.

Another musical success was staged at Oran Mor in Glasgow with Wee Free! The Musical. Set in 1984, it told of Morna who escapes the city to teach music on the remote Isle of Munst.

When she accidentally marries a pillar of the community, she finds herself at odds with the quirks of The Kirk and the strange ways of the locals. Could a New Romantic survive on an island ruled by The Old Testament? The stranger-in-town storyline offered great fun.

But sometimes in theatre it’s an acting performance that really stands out.

Scott Reid’s name has become more associated with his Still Game role, thanks to his performance as Methadone Mick.

But in The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time, based on Mark Haddon’s best-seller, he played 15 year-old, Christopher, who is possibly autistic.

The play, running at the King’s Theatre revealed Scott to be entirely convincing in the role of the young man who uses his extra-ordinary maths and science skills to prove he didn’t kill a neighbour’s dog.

There was great fun however to be had in the return of Hairspray The Musical.

The Theatre Royal production featured a great cast and of course the clutch of fantastic fifties song that made it world success.

Perhaps the most poignant play of the year however was that of Rab C. Nesbitt writer Ian Pattison whose, Love and Death In Govan and Hyndland.

Can you find the comedy in cancer? Pattison did. This Oran Mor-staged play, which was semi-autobiographical, offered a tremendous shared experience. And insight.

Panto in Glasgow is always a time of delight. Elaine C. Smith was all over the King’s Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty, revealing an energy she had when at Borderline Theatre in the Eighties.

But special mention has to go to the Tron Theatre panto star Jo Freer who played fast-talking, foot-shuffling Dora as a Glesga coke- head in Alice In Weegieland.

Dora is a sitcom character waiting to be developed.

And the year ahead in theatre looks to be great, if Sting’s showcase appearance in Glasgow of his musical The Last Ship, playing at the Theatre Royal in June is an example.