Skip to main content

Stuart Paterson - Cars and Boys

Stuart Paterson never meant to write Cars and Boys, his new play which opens at Dundee Rep next week in a production by the Rep's artistic director, Philip Howard. The prolific playwright and screenwriter whose numerous Christmas plays are a staple of the festive theatre circuit had been working on another piece, which, by his own admission, “was going nowhere, and this one sort of crept up on me. I was going to the theatre a lot, and not really enjoying it. I saw plenty of ideas there, but what I wanted to do was something that was simple and human, and that wasn't just about words and dialogue, but was more about the sound of words as well.”

Cars and Boys tells the story of Catherine Miller, the ageing matriarch of a big-time haulage company who has been calling the shots all of her life. Even after she suffers a stroke and is confined to a hospital bed, it seems, Catherine is determined to take charge of everyone and everything around her.

“It's about the life of a business,” says Paterson. “It's a play about power and endeavour, and the language of business, which has a vitality to it. If it becomes fractured when the main character in the play has a stroke, she can reveal things that she wouldn't ordinarily reveal. We're not doing Ho;by City, but while it's always dangerous to use the word poetic, the stage is poetic, and you have to try and find a language to express that.”

There is an umbilical link between Cars and Boys and Paterson's 1999 play, King of The Fields, which first appeared at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. That play featured a couple at its heart who, while they don't appear in Cars sand Boys, are the parents of Catherine, and ran the haulage firm before her.

“Philip keeps teasing me that this is part two of a trilogy,” says Paterson, “but writing the play like that happened without me ever pre-planning it in any way.”

Given that Ayrshire-born Paterson's own father ran a haulage business, Cars and Boys sounds even closer to home, even though Paterson points out that “The play is completely fictitious, but, as with King of the Fields, it's totally rooted in family in a way that enables me to use phrases and bits of language that are quite private, so sometimes it's hard for me to listen to, but because of my repressed Calvinism, I couldn't out my parents onstage. One of the reasons I'm a playwright is because I can express emotions which might otherwise find difficult to do so in life. Although it was expected of me to take over my father's haulage firm, I never really wanted to but it's always in my blood.”

Cars and Boys will be staged with the audience sat in a transverse seating arrangement on Dundee Rep's stage in a way that effectively creates a temporary studio theatre more suited to Paterson's play. Such scaling down of the Rep's auditorium has previously been utilised for equally up close and personal productions of Howard Barker's Scenes From An Execution and Euripides' Greek tragedy, Hecuba, while a staging of Tom McGrath's play, Kora, took place in a building behind the theatre.

“Cars and Boys is a play that will benefit from intimacy,” says Paterson, “so staging it in this way suits the play.”

Beyond Cars and Boys, Paterson is working on a screenplay based on Dr Glas, a nineteenth century set novel by Swedish writer, Hjalmar Soderberg. While a new children's play may be forthcoming, for now, at least, it is the very grown-up world of Cars and Boys that is on Paterson's mind.

“It's always interesting to look at someone who's had power in their life, and is still trying to hang onto that power no matter what,” he says. “There's a lot about love in Cars and Boys as well, but it's a play about someone who is absolutely fighting to survive, and it's a bare knuckle fight between her and death itself. You know that if he came into the room, one thing for certain is that she wouldn't be afraid of taking him on.”

Cars and Boys, Dundee Rep, April 11-26

The Herald, April 4th 2014


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…