Grant O'Rourke effortlessly captures Wilson's essence in Jocky Wilson Said
Unlikely sports star is given a more than an oche tribute in new A Play, A Pie & A Pint production
The title, of course, alludes to the famous BBC incident that led Irish folk/soul band Dexys Midnight Runners to perform a song about soul great Jackie Wilson against a backdrop of a diminutive Fife darts hero Jocky on Top of the Pops. There are no such wrong turns here though in Jane Livingstone and Jonathan Cairney's pithy yet tender take on the Scots legend and a typical true story about his life.
Overly fond of a brew or two, Wilson finds himself stranded and hungover in the desert, his hedonism leaving him miles away from a Las Vegas match which could be the making of him.'These legs werenae made for long distances', he grumbles to a cactus, opening a suitcase containing only fresh pairs of pants and – to his abject horror – water, not vodka.
Grant O'Rourke's portrayal is superb, never once straying into easy caricature, yet effortlessly capturing Wilson's essence. Underneath the cheeky one-liners and mimicry of officious dole office spies lies a broken man, plagued with self-doubt, the product of an erratic children's home environment.
O'Rourke's nod to laddish masculinity and 80s drinking culture is tempered by the smarts of a man who knew sports was about performance and psychology as much as throwing arrows. Wilson may be chippy, and a bit of a sore loser, but he's nobody's fool here. There are some beautifully judged slights to his opponents, the cocky Cockney Eric Bristow and the cynical naysayers back home, but it's all worn lightly by the versatile O'Rourke, with Tony Cownie's direction giving the production plenty of space to let the character develop and blossom. A real pleasure to spend time with: funny, couthy, and – yes – full of soul.
Oran Mor, Glasgow, 20–25 Mar; Lemon Tree Aberdeen 27 Mar–1 Apr