Shoeshine Man

A one-act play for three characters

American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, Isaac Asimov once said, “properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” Whether you believe this point of view or not, it is incontrovertible that the good book has given people great comfort...but has also spawned killings, wars and hatefulness. This one-act play addresses some of the issues surrounding organised religion. In doing so it engages with the belief systems that have people view others as different and, often, lesser beings.

Set in urban Glasgow in Scotland, the play is at once funny and challenging. It may offend those of faith...but it merely holds a mirror up to the actualities of religious life and beliefs.

All enquiries regarding performing rights and copies of the play should be addressed to:

Brendan Brannigan
The GMX Agency
Garret Studios
5 Sutherland Drive
G46 6PL


Tam Flynn An indigent

Tam is in his mid-fifties and has been on the streets for some years. A functioning alcoholic, he now sleeps in lifts in multi-story flats in Glasgow. Unshaven, his worn suit and frayed shirt and tie suggests a tired attempt at formality. A modern, skipped baseball cap completes a confused ensemble. His shoes are brightly polished.

Reverend John Wilson Church of Scotland minister

John is a mid-thirties' clergyman newly appointed to a Parish in Maryhill in Glasgow. Before taking cloth he was a member of Simply Pink, a middle of the road, religious rock band. He is a member of CND, the Campaign for Real Ale and Amnesty International.

Father Seamus O'Mally Roman Catholic priest

Father O'Mally is a sixty-five year old irascible Irish priest. He has served the Catholic population of Maryhill, in Glasgow for the past twenty years and is a heavy drinker. Popular with his elderly laity, the younger families in his church nevertheless view him as an old fashioned traditionalist.

The Gospel according to Tam…

On Scientology…

Who'd have thought that Los Angeles of all places would end up the centre of a pseudo-theological pile of shite that now has more adherents than the Wee Free Church of Scotland! L. Ron Hubbard has a lot to answer for...but deranged as Scientology is, it doesn'y hold a candle to the pish you two spout!

On Mormons…

See the trouble them people that have visions cause? That Joseph Smith was full of it! If he'd been given an enema tae take a' the shite out'y him before he died, they could have been buried what was left in a fuckin' shoebox!

On Limbo…

But even now, top Catholic theologians meet in Rome to discuss the concept of Limbo..! Sittin' round a table discussing in all seriousness a fiction that's the equivalent of arguing whether Desperate Dan really ate cow pie! This is just another example of religious intellectuals debating unprovable assertions...People whose opinions are in line suspiciously with their short, a monumental waste of bloody time!

On Jehovah’s Witnesses…

Jehovah's Witnesses?....D'you know that where ah come from originally, in Pollok, the polis joke that there's no Jehovah's Witnesses, just Jehovah's Bystanders! No thanks, Seamus. These boys refuse blood transfusions, risk dying and visit these same lunacies on their poor weans...although there is no absolutely no instruction about this in your Scripture...They deny evolution just like your mob, they chap your door when you're just about to have a wee cup of tea and somehow they've worked out that the Kingdom of Heaven can only cope with precisely...that's hundred and forty-four thousand people! Ah don't know whether to be hugely impressed by the fact that they managed to get an estate agent up to Heaven to do some measurements or to give Tom Cruise a call and let him know that there are people even fuckin' crazier than Scientologists!

On Islam…

But y'know, you two must also understand that that is exactly how a Muslim views Christianity...They are completely indifferent about the possibility of them ending up in hell because they don't believe in your god...and that's the way that ah view all religions ...completely untroubled about the prospect of any kind of afterlife! The difference is that ah don't want to kill anyone that doesn'y agree with me.

On the Bible and Sikhs…

Presumably you'd also want to ignore the bits in the Bible about stonin' people to death who work on the Sabbath, eh? Ah mean that'll really piss off the staff down at B&Q at the weekend!...And the bits about stonin' homosexuals... Or stonin' anyone who suggests that there might be other gods...that's the Sikhs fucked, eh?

On the Church of Scotland…

Aye, but you're as much to blame, John. You and your more nuanced compadres. Honest, ah know you mean both do...but really, you're the enemy of the poor and oppressed. Ah know you'll run coffee mornings and gather clothes, organise presents at Christmas...but really, you should be organising your followers to march on City Hall!

On Roman Catholicism…

Ah mean, what would the carpenter from Nazareth...the guy who threw the money-changers out the temple....the guy you each tell me was the son of your God...what would he make of today's Vatican? Ah'll tell you what he'd think...he'd throw you all out on your arse...right out on your arse!