A Drop in the Ocean ***1/2

A Drop in the Ocean is a curious piece of theatre.  It isn’t a conventional production but is instead a themed cabaret with strings of character and plot lightly thread throughout.  It also marks the 150th production A Play, a Pie and a Pint have produced.

Set in a purgatory-like pub located somewhere under the ocean, the play is less a story and more an excuse for numerous musical numbers, most of which are catchy and cleverly written by Dave Anderson.  In fact, to give a plot synopsis or character breakdown completely misses the point because, if the production is ‘about’ anything, it is more about the energy and the ‘joie-de-vivre’ that is on parade, even if there are hints of melancholy.

Andrew Panton’s staging has far more akin to the ‘be-ins’ from the sixties.  Rather than sitting at secured seats and watching the action on a raised stage, the audience mostly stand around the production, which is set in the middle of the room.  Musical numbers occur throughout the performance space, weaving through the audience and up onto platforms and tables.  It’s an energetic display of direction that makes great use of the space.

All of the lead actors have fun throughout the piece, displaying fine voices and a sense of playfulness.  But one must congratulate the chorus and the band, which are made up of the students from RSAMD’s MA in Musical Theatre programme.  Their performances, from the preshow sing-a-longs in the bar above to their contributions to nearly every number, are consistently spot-on.

One must also give warning of a few things.  First, arrive early as pies and drinks are served in the above bar and are not allowed below, as is usual.  Second, as the audience are encouraged to stand, there are only a few seats available.

It may not be the most original production and in fact might be a bunch of nonsense, and it may not have characters, plot or even songs that linger with you for long, but A Drop in the Ocean wears its heart on its sleeve and makes for a fun hour’s entertainment.  It wants so badly to please, and it more than does so.  It’s hard not to like it.

Performing at Oran Mor until May 2nd.

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