THE show 51 Shades Of Maggie might be too raw for anyone under 16 – but at least actress Leah MacRae’s granny likes it, and she’s 80!
Leah who plays naughty heroine Maggie Muff in the one-woman show said: "My gran loved it, so I know it’s OK for 16 to 80s!"
For Leah who is best-known to most Scots as daft Julie in BBC comedy Gary Tank Commander, the contrast between Julie and feisty Maggie couldn’t be greater.
Leah said: "Maggie is great for me because Julie is this innocent, unsavvy girl – someone who wouldn’t be trusted to be left anywhere on her own.
"So what’s really nice is people come and see me in the show as Maggie and their jaws hit the floor.
"They’re expecting wee daft Julie and Maggie is the total opposite."
The play developed by Irish writer Leesa Harker from her original Facebook spoof of 50 Shades of Grey has become a massive hit in Glasgow – thousands now know Leah as Maggie.
Leah said: "We did it at the Pavilion in Glasgow and it sold out for three weeks in a row, 1500 people every night.
"It was the biggest-selling Glasgow show since Mrs Brown’s Boys."
Leah had also never heard an audience react as they did to the play.
She revealed: "I’ve been working in comedy for 10 years and I’ve never heard an audience laugh the way they laugh at Maggie Muff!"
Initially, when independent Scottish theatre producer Robert C Kelly was casting for the show, Leah jumped at his invitation to read for the role.
"I think Robert had me in mind for Maggie, but Martin Lynch the director is from Belfast and didn’t know me.
"He wanted to see me do the softer side of Maggie and bring across some of the vulnerability that she’s got at some points in the play.
"I was happy to do it because when I got the script I knew it was a lovely little showcase for any actress.
"There is a lot of acting involved and characterisation. It’s a proper play."
Like the millions who had read EL James’ raunchy besteller 50 Shades Of Grey, Leah had too.
"I quite liked idea of the play because I just guffawed at the original book," she said.
"When Leesa Harker wrote her 50 Shades Of Red, White and Blue with Maggie and her vulgarities and frank approach, it made me giggle.
"And Maggie’s great for an actress. Sometimes it feels like stand up, but there’s a bit of a twist in the story, so there are dramatic moments too.
"She’s quite a wee hard nut, Maggie Muff. She says it like it is and she’s quite rough.
"I’ve got quite a big personality and I’m quite a loud girl myself, so playing Maggie – and the other different characters – is so much fun."
Leah doesn’t worry too much about some of the rude and raunchy lines.
"When I have to say something really rude, me and the audience just always have a giggle. I make a face, we all giggle.
"It has got little naughty bits in it, but the comedy takes over.
"It used to be all women at the start because it’s billed as a great girls’ night out – and it is. But as word of mouth went round, you started to see couples coming in to see it together."
Most people might find it hard to say swear and be crude in front of their parents.
It’s a test Leah has passed.
"Funnily enough my dad – who is similar to me in character and loudness – he thought it was hysterical.
"I’m sure I could hear his laugh among the 1,500 people in the theatre!
"And he was so proud and I could see him at the end on his feet, cheering.
"But my mum was squirming!
"It was the swear words – Maggie swears a lot and my mum was going ‘Oh Leah, you’re supposed to be a lady!’.
"Maggie Muff is not a lady!
"But both mum and dad were so proud because I’m from Glasgow and it’s a big thing to stand on that stage.
"And it was nice for themto see me there because I don’t get a lot of theatre. I’m usually put in this comedy box.
"With my granny, I didn’t know she was coming.
"I looked up at one point, saw her and thought ‘Oh no!’.
"But she loved it – and seeing me on the big stage!"
For the moment, Leah’s unlikely to be playing Gary Tank Commander's Julie again any time soon.
She explained: "Greg McHugh’s not writing more at the moment and we are all busy doing other things.
"And if I was doing Tank I wouldn’t be able to do this.
"But I miss playing Julie.
"We were all at a party recently and all the boys were there. It was so funny, we just go into Tank mode and I turn into Julie!"
But a stint in panto Jack And the Beanstalk in Greenock will reunite some of the cast.
Leah said: "I’m starting panto literally the day after I’ve finished being Maggie."
And if the stretch from Julie to Maggie is wide, so’s the next one...
Leah laughed: "I’m going from Maggie to – the panto fairy!"
51 Shades Of Maggie is at Eden Court for three nights from Sunday (Oct 27) until Tuesday, before moving to Aberdeen Arts Centre from Wednesday, October 30 to Saturday, November 2.