I suppose you could say it was something of a phenomenon. Live theatre in a 10,000+ seater stadium running for 21 nights. And most of those seats having a fresh bum each evening.
That means around 210,000 people have turned out and shelled out in a city of around 600,000. And what did they go to see? A play about some old people who live in a deprived area and wear beige. There were no megastars and (mercifully) no nudity.
What is this thespian delight?
Obviously if you’re from West Central Scotland, you’ll know and, probably, you’ve been to see it, but for everyone else it’s Still Game Live.
Still Game was a sitcom starring and created by Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan about two old codgers in the fictional scheme of Craiglang and their adventures. It was a funny, funny show – warm and sharp enough to keep you coming back for more.
So I was fairly confident of an entertaining evening when we settled into our seats, having decided against buying cardboard Jack and Victor masks or a £10 programme.
Oh dear. I was wrong.
The Hydro is huge. It’s much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. (Shut up, it so is.) And it’s a mighty long way to the stage (even if you’re not in the cheap seats, which we weren’t). Helpfully they had provided huge screens above the tryptic set upon which you could also watch the action.
I did try to watch the real actors on the real stage, but inevitably my eyes were drawn back to the screen. In which case I might as well have been watching it on the telly – only on the telly a half-hour sitcom episode wouldn’t have had to be padded to bursting and I wouldn’t have had to take part in a horrible Mexican wave affair.
Oh yes they did. Despite actually saying that it wasn’t panto, it certainly felt that way. What else would you call a fist pumping “Craiglang Wave”? A cheering compliant crowd that anticipated the set pieces and no one really giving a monkey’s about the plot.
And you know that bit when Buttons and the Fairy do a double act and get the singalong going? Yes. That bit. Well that was almost what Jack and Victor when they got off the sofa and stepped out of their room set. Going through the fourth wall, I believe it’s known as. Usually employed as a subtle self referential device.
Not in this case, the bold pair drove their juggernaut of jest right through it stopping only after they’d flattened the first few rows. Even cracking a gag about the stupidity of fans for forking out a tenner on a programme as they went.
Add to that a sweary script that made up for a lack of creativity with volume and repetition. Pish, pish, pish etc. Sigh.
Bewilderingly though I was surrounded by people who seemed to be having the most hilarious night of their entire lives ever. Either they had come directly from bleak orphanage via miserable employment, dark home lives and a Scotrail train or I was missing something. The next day I watched a few episodes and, while I don’t tend to LOL, I certainly smiled more than once. They were funny and clever with likable characters and keen observations.
So it wasn’t just me then.
Still Game wasn’t a complete donkey though. The marvellous Navid (Sanjeev Kohli) and his faceless wife Meena steal the show – much as they did on the telly. Give Navid his own programme, I say.
And there is one genuinely wonderful scene – which I won’t spoil for those heading to the last show. It alone saved the day.
Still Game? If that game is taking fans for mugs, then yes.