Chic Murray: A Funny Place for a Window
***** (5 stars)
PPP [a play, a pie, and a pint] returns to the Traverse with a burst of laughter which sends the audience out into the world with a smile after spending an hour in the company of famous Scots comedian Chic Murray, his wife Maidie.
Maureen Carr sparkles in the spotlight as Maidie, the all-round entertainer whose stage career had begun at the age of three, and who was a well-established star when Chic first crossed her path. Her own talent, and her love for Chic, are obvious; her respect for and encouragement of his talent a joy to watch, and her pain when she can finally no longer tolerate Chic’s neglect of her and their children deeply moving.
Dave Anderson effortlessly holds the audience in the palm of his hand as he develops from the geeky and gawky partner in the Whinhillbillies, a would-be Dixie band, in which Chic spends more time telling jokes than making music, into an initially tentative and then confident stage animal and, ultimately, a world-famous comedian. Along the way we catch glimpses of the tragedies behind the smiles, and the challenges of life as a comedian – everyone loves you when you’re funny, but doesn’t want to know you when you’re not – and of life with a comedian, or anyone who is obsessed with their art and less than attentive to the people around them…
Completing the cast was the multi-talented “Ensemble” – a jack of all trades, and master of them too. Brian James O’Sullivan plays a mean piano and piano accordion and a multiplicity of the characters, including a wonderful cameo as Liberace, who appeared in the stranger than fiction [you couldn’t make it up if you tried] story of Chic’s life.
Through it all, Chic/ Dave keeps the audience laughing with his one-liners, ridiculous stories and immense talent, while himself playing impressive piano and singing/ harmonising with Maidie: is there no end to his talents? My favourite moment has to be a deliciously incomprehensible Scots poem performed for the Bruntsfield Burns Night, but there were many brilliant moments, both funny and sad, in this hour-long tribute to a great comedian.
As a Sassenach I grew up not knowing Chic, but my neighbours in the audience told me that he was a big influence on Billy Connolly – and this became obvious to me as the show progressed: both men have a wonderful ability to take a very simple incident, like walking down a street, and embroider it into a hysterically funny scenario that can leave one helpless with laughter.
If you don’t know the man, come and marvel: if you do, like many in the audience today, come and relish the opportunity to wander down memory lane – but hurry: it was a sell-out today, and tickets for this week will undoubtedly be hard to come by!
Chic Murray: A Funny Place for a Window, Traverse theatre, Edinburgh run ends Sat 13, For tickets go to https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event/ppp-chic-murray-a-funny-place-for-a-window