In Miraculous, Borderline Theatre Company and the Gaiety Ayr have created a bouncy online version of David F Ross’ comedy caper novel about an Ayrshire band that once had an unexpected number one hit.
It just takes a nifty 50 minutes for the three-hander to cut through to the essence of the novel The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas which, in its original form, had a glinting eye for visceral detail. What’s left is its structural backbone as journalist Norma Niven interviews two of the band.
If the dark comedy of the backstory of The Miraculous Vespas is lost with the detail, there are enough laughs to be had from manager Max Mojo and guitarist singer/songwriter Grant Delgado without needing to know about the legions of ne’er-do-well Ayrshire families they came from.
It starts off dry enough, with Sarah McCardie as Norma Niven interviewing Tam Dean Burn’s Max Mojo about his half finished biopic about the band, 25 years after they had their hit.
McCardie is the perfect caustic interviewer, indicating with a knowing raising of an eyebrow that she is quite aware of Max Mojo’s utter bull. You feel that even if she isn’t in the same league, Norma could give Janice Forsyth a run for her money.
Burn has played more than one leery bampot in his acting career – and this one doesn’t disappoint. Max is as foul-mouthed as you might expect and, for all his bluster, you can see that not a lot is going on under the veneer of disrespect.
The first of a series of killer twists – don’t worry, it’s not really a spoiler to know, after all he’s on the poster as it were – is the arrival of Grant Delgado. Colin McCredie plays him very straight and uneasy to be there – while making sure that you can see that more is hidden behind apparent discomfort.
There is, it becomes very clear, little love is lost between the erstwhile bandmates, and the joy of the narrative lies in the discovery of how that came about.
But that is secondary to the joy of watching these three actors giving extra layers to the outrageous characters who, in this incarnation, could be decidedly two-dimensional. There is a real humanity there. Somewhere. If you dig far enough.
Colin McCredie as Grant Delgado
Quite where Miraculous falls in the continuum between theatre, Zoom and film is not clear.
It certainly has great theatricality to it and, while it is not recorded live, you would be forgiven for thinking it had been recorded via Zoom in real time, thanks to pointed direction from Stuart Hepburn and significant design work from Stephen Cameron.
It is also significantly enhanced with a couple of majorly name-dropping guest appearances. Legendary Scottish music journalist Billy Sloane puts in a cameo to make his claim to having found the Miraculous Vespas their fame, while Bobby Bluebell is on hand to provide a couple of numbers to ensure that the claims of a number one hit are believable.
All told, this is a welcome addition to the canon of remotely created lockdown offerings. It is fun in its own right even if you can’t help thinking that the original novel needs a read too.
Running time 50 minutes
Online via the Gaiety’s lockdown channel: lockdown.thegaiety.co.uk
Thurs 30/Fri 31 July 2020.
Evenings: 7pm, followed by a Q&A with the cast and creatives.
The production will then stream online via the lockdown channel until the end of August.
The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas (Disco Days Book 2) by David F Ross is available to read on Kindle: