‘The Greatest’ is returning for round two at Oran Mor

Cumbernauld playwright Alan Muir
Cumbernauld playwright Alan Muir

A play focused on Muhammad Ali’s ‘forgotten’ fight in Paisley is returning to the stage due to phenomenal demand.

‘The Greatest’ took audiences and critics by storm when it was premiered as part of A Play, A Pie and A Pint at Glasgow’s Oran Mor in March.

The comedy-drama played to sell-out audiences and will return – “by phenomenal demand” – for another week’s run at the Oran Mor next month.

‘The Greatest’ tells the story of Jimmy Marshall, a gallus pensioner in a Scottish care home who has a bold claim – he insists he knocked out Ali ... the night before the World Champion fought an exhibition bout at Paisley Ice Rink in August 1965.

Young video blogger Orwell has her doubts, but as the incredible story unfolds an unlikely friendship is forged in the most unexpected of places.

The original cast – Billy MacBain, Rebekah Lumsden and Louise Montgomery – are all returning, as is legendary director Ron Bain.

Cumbernauld playwright Alan Muir was stunned by the success of the play.

He said: “It was incredible to see the words I’d written brought to life by such a wonderful director and talented actors, it genuinely was like watching magic unfolding in front of me.

“People really responded to the play – not just the story, but also the characters themselves. They took them to heart and that was an amazing thing to experience.

“The reaction during the run was unbelievable. We had standing ovations, impromptu rounds of applause and tremendous feedback – in person and online. It surpassed even my wildest dreams.”

The play is back for another run of shows from Monday, July 23, to Saturday, July 28, – beginning at 1pm each day, with a drink (beer, wine or soft drink) plus a pie or vegetarian quiche included in the ticket price.

Alan said: “I know this sounds daft, but you could sense the presence of Ali at every performance. Such is his iconic status and legend, he almost seemed to be waiting in the wings somehow.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Ali. He was undoubtedly a conflicted character – full of contradictions, but also brimming with charisma, power and talent.

“He’s a hero, but also as flawed as anyone and there’s something about him that still stirs the soul.

“I couldn’t believe it when I found out he had visited Scotland in 1965 – to take part in an exhibition bout in Paisley no less.

“The fight didn’t go according to plan and rather comical scenes ensued – and a lot of the details are woven into the play and Jimmy’s story.”

Is it a tall tale or a piece of forgotten Scottish history? You’ll need to see the play to find out.

He added: “The Greatest is my first play and I have to pay heartfelt tribute to everyone at A Play, A Pie and A Pint for their faith in me and the work.

“They are an incredibly talented team – offering a huge range of top-class productions every week – and I can’t praise them enough.”

Tickets costing £12.50 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; £10 on Wednesday and £14 on Saturday can be purchased by visiting www.ticketweb.uk, calling 08444 771 000 or at the box office on the day.

Founded in 2004, A Play, A Pie and A Pint produces some 38 plays a year and has worked with many of Scotland’s best-known writers – supporting playwrights, directors and actors at every stage of their career.

For more information about what’s on visit http://playpiepint.com.