BRIAN James O’Sullivan is a favourite with audiences at Glasgow’s lunchtime theatre institution, A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

This time, however, he’s decided to mix things up a bit.

“I wanted to push the boundaries, play around with what audiences expect to get at A Play, A Pie and A Pint,” explains the Drumchapel-born actor, who became a viral sensation during lockdown with his videos of hilarious Glaswegian couple Janice and Frank.

“Hopefully, people will leave thinking, well, we’ve never seen anything like that at Oran Mor before….”

Glasgow Times: Brian James O'SullivanBrian James O'Sullivan (Image: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan)

Meetings with the Monk is a heartwarming one-man ,play loosely based on Brian’s own visit to an abbey, which profoundly affected him.

“I’ve struggled with my mental health over the years, and I have always looked for different ways to deal with it,” says Brian.

“So I went to an abbey. I became friendly with one of the monks, and he really helped turn things around for me.”

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He pauses. “I realised my family do this quite a lot,” he says, with a laugh. “My aunt was a nun earlier in her life, and my gran used to go to the abbey – she was very religious. Abbeys, monasteries – they have always figured on the peripheries of my life.

“I’m not religious, but I am quite spiritual. I’ve always been fascinated with spiritual things, people who live alternative lives focused on higher consciousness. I wanted to tell the story of my encounters with these people and show how one of them affected me so profoundly.”

Brian plays himself in the play, and all the other characters, including some very funny holy men. However, for the monk who made such a difference, Brian has asked another actor to pre-record all the lines, and they will be played out differently every day.

“I haven’t heard them, so every time I do it, it will be different,” he says. “The whole play is about relinquishing control, so I thought I’d see what it was like to relinquish control of the play itself.”

He adds: “All spirituality comes down to letting go, really – of ego, of a need to control, of whatever it is. The reality is that none of us are really in control. We think, if I can just get my ducks in a row, everything will be okay – but we never seem to get our ducks in a row…

“I guess that’s the key message. I hope people leave with a slight shift in perspective."

He grins: "And hopefully, it will be a bit of a laugh.”

Typically, Brian, who won Best Dame at the 2023 UK Panto Awards for Maw Goose at Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling, is busy – he has written the music for Ugly, Cumbernauld Theatre’s panto this year, and Something Big is on the horizon, which he cannot reveal, but is very excited about.

And Janice and Frank will definitely be back, he adds.

“Oh yes, absolutely,” he says. “I’ve done the trilogy now, and it would be great to do all three pieces in one go somewhere, sometime.”

He adds, smiling: “Like a History Cycle. But with Janice and Frank and me, if people can cope, for several hours….”

Meetings with the Monk is at Oran Mor from October 9 to 14.