Thursday, 31 July 2014

Edwin Morgan's Dreams & Other Nightmares

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars
Liz Lochhead's impressionistic homage to Edwin Morgan, her friend,
fellow poet and predecessor as Scotland's Makar, first appeared in 2011
as part if that year's Glasgay! festival. Three years on, as the
centrepiece of the Tron's Commonwealth-supported Home Nations Festival
2014 of poetic drama, director Andy Arnold has put the life and work of
this major artist on a world stage.

It begins and ends with Morgan's Life Force personified as a dynamic
and fearless figure at odds with Morgan's quietly mischievous public
persona, before moving into the care home where he spent his final
years. Here Morgan holds court, unveiling his past to his Biographer in
a tumble of anecdote and dreams peopled by lovers and dangerous
liaisons in Glasgow parks after dark.

Drawn in part from Beyond The Last Dragon, James McGonigal's published
study of Morgan, Lochhead's play weaves together a touching but
unsentimental study of a complex and contrary figure, whose parallel
lives powered his poetry. One minute Morgan is on a bus sat next to a
man with tattooed knuckles who puts his hand on his knee, the next he's
watching absurd 1970s TV quiz show, The Golden Shot, with his long-term
partner.

Morgan's ever-shrinking physical presence, so sensitively captured by
David McKay, is counterpointed by the more bullish tendencies of
Morgan's assorted companions, played by Steven Duffy. It is Laurie
Ventry's Biographer, however, who anchors things. Given an all too rare
insight into the private life of a literary genius who continued to
push boundaries until his final days, the end result, both for him and
for Lochhead, is a labour of love to cherish.

The Herald, June 28th 2014


ends

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