A Play, a Pie and a Pint: Celestial Body, Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Hamish, Bruce and Laura in Celestial Body
Show details
A Play, A Pie and A Pint, Oran Mor, presented in Association with Aberdeen Performing Arts and the Traverse Theatre
Morna Pearson, (writer), Becky Hope-Palmer (director)
Neshla Caplan, (Laura), Ross Mann (Bruce), Samuel Pashby (Hamish)
Running time

The perennially popular series of bite-size lunchtime shows, ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’ makes a welcome return for a short Autumn season at the Traverse Theatre.

Celestial Body –‘a natural object outside the earth’s atmosphere such as the moon, sun, star, or planet’. As astrologers believe, our destiny is written in the stars dictated by the signs of the Zodiac. 

The opening scene is set in a kitchen economically staged with a breakfast bar and two stools as Laura, dressed in her pyjamas, appears anxiously agitated as she listens to the soothing mystical voice of Marjorie Fawcett. Having just moved house her Pisces horoscope says that she has made the right decision taking a bold path of change in her life. 

In contrast, very much in control of his wellbeing, Hamish is in fitness mode at the gym to build up taut muscles and  toned body.  His routine is interrupted by Bruce, with his shaggy hair, beard and baggy sweatshirt, looking like a fish out of water. “How do I use them?” he asks, pointing to the dumbbell weights. “You pick them up!” is the curt answer.  While initially annoyed by this rookie, Hamish offers to help get him motivated:  Fitness is all about dedication, he explains, ‘physical, mental, spiritual … and financial.’ 

Meanwhile, Laura is in a flap, annoyed by the loud music from next door and a broken washing machine and has had to find a local plumber. This is the fit and health-conscious Hamish, who would rather get on with the job than be offered coffee and home-made cake by the flirtatious Laura. On his second visit to complete the repair, she offers hot spicy buns, getting close up and personal while admitting that she has not had any physical exercise for ages. 

Neshla Caplan really gets under the skin and manic mindset of Laura’s nervous and needy personality, a lost, lonely soul who relies on her astrological guidance to know what to do each day.    

And so the action moves back and forward between her kitchen and the gym where Bruce is trying to crack on with his crunches and push ups - while also munching crisps (to Hamish’s despair) and suggests, “Do you want to go out for a drink? – I’m buying”. In the pub, the still unfit Bruce struggles to clamber on to a high stool (a real farcical moment), as the guys engage in a rather strained conversation. The unlikely budding friendship between these two men is brilliantly portrayed by Samuel Pashby and Ross Mann as Hamish is teased for not having a favourite Dr.Who and interrogated over his love life, while Bruce cracks jokes as if they are old mates.  

No plot spoiler here but, my goodness, Morna Pearson packs a punch in this fifty minute, tightly-written, cool and calculated black comedy.  The dialogue is as sharp as Laura’s Almond cake slicers through this multi-layered sweet and sour dramatic scenario in which humorous banter quickly evolves into a surreal and sinister atmosphere.  An appetising and tasty amuse bouche of a theatrical treat.


21 – 25 September, 2021 daily @ 1pm. Also 7pm on Thursday 23 September

Ticket price: £ 16

(Includes a pint of beer, 125ml glass of wine or soft drink and a pie.)