SCOTLAND-BASED dramatists (both Irish and Scottish) have a strong track record when it comes to writing comic plays about Unionism in Northern Ireland.

In 2014, the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh premiered DC Jackson’s Kill Johnny Glendenning, a rollicking, hilarious satire in which the brilliant, Northern Irish actor (and dramatist) David Ireland played the titular Loyalist paramilitary.

Then, in 2016 in Dublin, came Cyprus Avenue, a brilliant, dark comedy written by the same David Ireland, about a very different working-class Unionist, the ageing and confused Eric Miller. The drama was revived, with great success, earlier this year by Glasgow’s Tron Theatre, starring the superb David Hayman as Miller, a man who has mistaken his newborn granddaughter for Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

The latest play in this tradition is Fleg, by Meghan Tyler (who shares with David Ireland the distinctions of an Irish heritage and having trained as an actor at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow).

A co-production between A Play, a Pie and a Pint and Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre, it is a pungent, sometimes cartoonish 50 minutes of political comedy.

The play centres on wildly dysfunctional, working-class East Belfast couple Bobby (Harry Ward) and Caroline (Beth Marshall), who are plunged into crisis by the passing of Queen Elizabeth.

As young council worker Tierna (a Belfast Protestant who managed to come by an Irish name, played by the excellent Fran Hess) attempts to put a Union Flag on a lamppost at half-mast, Bobby explodes in consternation about the importance of the “fleg” and of it not being tampered with by the council worker’s assumedly Catholic hands.

The National:

The Unionist couple are the stuff of comic caricature. Bobby struts around, beer belly protruding from under his shirt, as if he is constantly at the head of an Orange parade.

Caroline (resplendent in orange hair, hoodie and sweatpants) is a cartoon working-class Unionist, struggling to make ends meet, but insistent that “Her Majesty” had “a hard life”.

Deliberately two-dimensional the characters may be, but that does not make them easy for actors to play. Ward and Marshall are both superb, making their monsters into, respectively, a hilarious image of maniacal meltdown (Bobby) and a woman sliding towards an anguished epiphany (Caroline).

The National:

Tyler has run with the popular jibe about the sexual proclivities of Donald Trump (when he literally hugged and kissed the Stars and Stripes) and other flag-obsessed ultra-patriots. In Bobby’s obsessive mind the Union Flag is transformed into a young, female, cut glass English-accented object of desire.

The masturbatory humour that ensues is far from subtle, as is (progressive and republican) Tierna’s borderline polemical dialogue with Caroline later in the play.

Nevertheless, there is some lovely writing here, not least when Bobby and Caroline bewail the death of the 96-year-old monarch, agreeing that she died “too young”.

The boldness and humour of the writing, combined with the universally fabulous acting and the intensity and rhythm of Dominic Hill’s direction make this an enjoyable, if imperfect, piece of lunchtime theatre.

Run ended