Skip to main content

Iron

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
The pains of confinement inside women’s prisons have long been a source 
of dramatic intrigue, sometimes of the exploitative variety. Rona 
Munro’s play is no Prisoner: Cell Block H, however. Rather, Munro’s 
exploration of what happens when one inmate’s life sentence is 
interrupted by visits from the daughter she hasn’t seen for fifteen 
years is a tense and complex affair.

First seen at the Traverse in 2002 and revived here by director Richard 
Baron for the Borders-based Firebrand company in association with the 
Heart of Hawick, Iron is a battle of wills between Fay, who stabbed her 
husband to death, and Josie, the daughter Fay never saw growing up. 
While Fay has been made brittle and manipulative by 
institutionalisation, Josie only wants to know what life used to be 
like, when she still had a dad.

Baron’s brooding production is led by Blythe Duff, who plays Fay with a 
flint-eyed concentration and complete lack of sentimentality. As Josie, 
Irene Allan flits between amateur psychology, trying to impress her and 
out and out sparring.

There are moments when Fay and Josie’s increasingly fraught exchanges 
could be the cut and thrust of most mother-daughter spats. Only the two 
prison guards, one male, one female, watching over them like uniformed 
hawks reminds you that all the talk about ear-rings and boys is taking 
place behind bars.

Fay’s relationships with guards Sheila and George are in some ways more 
important than her one with Josie. Claire Dargo’s Sheila in particular 
shares a tense intimacy with Fay that Josie will never have. In the 
end, the emotional lockdown Fay sentences herself to is the only option 
in Munro’s brutal study  of life behind bars.

The Herald, November 8th 2012

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…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…