Do Not Press This Button @ Oran Mòr, Glasgow

Despite strong performances from Gemma McElhinney and David Rankine, Alan Bisset's latest play fails to get moving

Review by Mirren Wilson | 19 Nov 2019
  • Do Not Press This Button @ Oran Mòr, Glasgow

Trains – and what can happen on, off or because of them – have always had the potential to fascinate audiences. From Murder On The Orient Express to Girl on the Train, the possibilities for writers are endless. So surely the drama extends to the Edinburgh to Glasgow commute, courtesy of Scotrail? Alan Bisset, most renowned for The Moira Monologues, returns to Oran Mòr's A Play, A Pie and a Pint with Do Not Press This Button, his own tale of commuters crossing paths.

The situation and context are a tiny bit thrilling. Two characters, Marie and Ben, are minding their own business, alone in a train carriage. Ben strikes up an interaction and the play is set in motion. Do Not Press This Button plays with our expectations of these characters; we anticipate a romance but witness an opinionated battle.

The text shoehorns in race, gender, religion, sexuality and all kinds of politics from the perspectives of this pair of white, privileged individuals. There’s no new ground explored here, and instead of being funny, the dialogue is awkward and on the verge of being offensive.

The performances and characterisation are the piece’s biggest credit. Gemma McElhinney looks sweet and innocent but really packs a punch as a fiery Marie, whilst David Rankine perfectly pitches his character's extreme uneasiness. Cameron Fulton is full of swagger as cocky Terry, who comes out with some outrageous comments even if his working class character ends up in a vulnerable position.

Disappointly, the play ends on a note of cheap action and violence. This seems strange, since the entirety of the dialogue thus far has been a quick and pacy discussion over the characters' differing opinions. The sudden chaos falls somewhat flat. Do Not Press This Button is a curious watch that may divide audiences.

Run now ended