Donald Fraser Reviews- The Ringer

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Saturday February 14 2015

Gaeity Theatre, Ayr, Thursday February 12-  A wicket stump found a new use in a gruesome scene in The Ringer which had me moving uneasily in  my seat.

 The Gaiety audience, more used to  pantos, certainly were not shouting “he’s behind you” as Tartan Noir leapt off the page and onto the stage.

 It just wasn't cricket what happened to poor Stauner but he is no angel either as you find out as the plot unfolds.

Set in 80s Glasgow  the play is brutal from the outset but is well told and despite its dark storyline humour runs throughout.

The language was colourful and witty and the acting brought to life the book by four times CWA nominated  author Tony Black who was in the audience for the premiere.

The crowd reaction to some of the scenes showed they were buying into it as they cowered at every punch and winced at the occasional head butt.

Its not the usual fare served up at the Gaiety Theatre but the large crowd lapped it up.

The Ringer is a bitter sweet revenge tragedy which takes you on a trip through Glasgow’s sub culture.

The central characters are gritty and believable. The bold Stauner (Chris Taylor) is a  wide-boy with a menacing side.

His side-kick Wee Ally (Stuart Falconer) is his partner in crime, although he seems to take all the risks in their partnership.

They go head to head with nightclub owner Davey Geddis (Colin Ferguson) a gangster with a violent past who now employs Tambo (Bryan Larkin) to carry out his dirty work for him.

Add in femme fatale Monique (Evelyn Adams) and Jonesy (Darran Lightbody) who is in town to bury his sister who has committed suicide, and the scene is set for a plot that twists and turns and surprises.

Davey Geddis is now straight “whiter than white” or “holier than thou”  but he rules The Boneyard club with an iron fist and Stauner and Wee Ally fall foul of his drug dealing policy early on.

Geddis has eyes for his young French barmnaid  Monique but so does  Stauner and  it’s the latter who  formulates a plan to get revenge on the nightclub owner and also get  “his end away “ as he puts it.

Money is his motivation and he sees Monique as the perfect foil to the Geddis fortune.

Jonesy is tortured by the reasons behind his sister’s suicide and looking for answers which he gets in an unexpected twist.

It all comes to a head on the day of the Scottish Grand National .

Wee Ally has heard about a sure thing running the race at 100-1 and hes determined to make a killing on the ringer.

The National is a big payday for Geddis and his Broke Lads betting shops but will he get to keep it?

All is revealed  in a sizzling finale that brought gasps and groans  from the appreciative audience.

Don’t expect a happy ending from this well written play and be prepared to be a bit disturbed when you leave.

It is not for the faint hearted  but it leaves a lasting memory as it entertains and amuses throughout.

It’s a triumph for Black, the talented cast and director Pete Martin who manage to pull it off with a few quick set changes which don’t interrupt the flow.

Afterwards a delighted Tony Black said: “I am so proud of these guys  as they have done a brilliant job.

“We have been talking about making a play out of  The Ringer for over three years and it has worked out well.

“We are in talks with other theatres about taking the show on a Scottish tour which would be fantastic.

“Living in Ayr it was great to have the premiere in my hometown and I’m delighted so many people came to see it.”

If you get a chance to see The Ringer in all its stage glory, take it.

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