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 Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

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…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …