Skip to main content

David Hayman in Barlinnie

It wasn’t the first time David Hayman had been inside HMP Barlinnie. In
truth, the veteran actor and director’s appearance this week in the
former home of convicted murderer turned sculptor Jimmy Boyle to give a
bravura solo turn in his friend and colleague Rony Bridges play, Six
and a Tanner, makes him something of an old lag.

In the 1980s when Hayman was at the helm of left-wing theatre company,
7:84, he would frequently host rehearsals of forthcoming works before
inmates. Hayman’s associations go back even further, to the days of
Barlinnie’s controversial special unit, which enabled Boyle and other
offenders the resources to become artists under a progressively
enlightened regime.

Hayman played Boyle in the 1981 STV drama, A Sense of Freedom, based on
Boyle’s autobiography. Hayman also directed Silent Scream, a 1990
feature film starring Ian Glen as Larry Winters, another Special Unit
inmate who died of an overdose of barbiturates in the institution.

Neither film was made at Barlinnie, however. Hayman was even banned by
the Scottish Office from entering a prison for ten years, just for
playing Boyle, whose public profile became such a thorn in the
establishment’s side.

The Special Unit may be long gone, and the hundred or so young men
dressed in blue or red fleeces who filed into Barlinnie’s
high-ceilinged chapel yesterday to the strains of a jaunty Earl Hines
record for the first of four performances of Six and a Tanner may not
even have heard of it. Only a large ledger turned scrap-book in the
corner of the room bore witness to the centre’s past, with pages of
messy newspaper clippings pasted alongside a full list of Special Unit
residents from 1973, Boyle and Winters included.

As Barlinnie’s current residents watched Hayman perform Bridges’
autobiographical tale of one man’s coming to terms with the effects of
a violent and alcoholic father, however, as Hayman’s angrily addressed
a coffin at the centre of the raised stage, one suspects at least parts
of this painful story hit home for them.

Once Hayman launched into the piece, initial snickering turned to
silence, and by the time Hayman whipped the coffin with a belt the same
way his character’s father had whipped him, you could hear a pin-drop.
A less captive experience can be had when the play visits Oran Mor in
Glasgow’s west end next Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights.

The Herald, March 9th 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…