The unimaginable. Roadkill. Pachamama Productions at Dundee Rep.

An image from the 2012 Festival Fringe Production

An image from the 2012 Festival Fringe Production

Whilst most of you were watching the X Factor or Antiques Roadshow my wife and I spent an hour and a half in a damp 15ft x 15ft square squalid bedroom in a run down estate in the North Side of Dundee witnessing a 14 year old Nigerian Girl being repeatedly raped and gang raped to a soundtrack of coursing Scottish electro rock.

We arrived in darkness and were warned to “watch our heads” on the washing lines as we traversed a drying green coursing with weeds and strewn with rubbish.

We left the same.  Heavy-hearted but at least safe in the knowledge that the trauma we had just endured was art.  Not real.

It couldn’t possibly be real.

Could it?

Yes, actually, it could, and Jenny Marra MSP is trying to do something about it, using this astounding production as leverage to debate the scandal that is sex trafficking in Scotland.

So, in response to Marra’s initiaitive, and in support for Cora Bissett’s truly mindblowing vision I urge you to write to Jenny Marra and pledge your support to her proposal for a bill on Child Trafficking in Scotland.

Back to the play…

Cora Bissett is now firmly established in my mind as a national treasure.  This is the second production of hers that I have seen this year. (The last was Whatever Gets you through The Night on this year’s Fringe.)

What Bissett does, like nobody else, is celebrate Scotland’s underclasses in a way that is uplifting.  OK, Roadkill is hard to describe as uplifting but it empowers its central protagonist in a very powerful way, albeit we have to go to hell and back to get there.

I think Ken Loach would very much appreciate Cora’s work.

This play is deeply disturbing, deeply moving but artistically brimming full of ideas; music, animation, special effects, site specific in a really, really good way and, believe it or not, funny (the journey from Dundee Rep to Dundee Wreck was hilarious as the two main protagonists Martha (Lashana Lynch) and Mary (Faith Omole) sought to wrong foot us into thinking 14 year old Mary had left the misery of Nigeria and entered the land of Milk and Honey – when in truth it was the land of Filth and Money).

What follows this gay abandon on the bus is nothing short of harrowing.

But brilliant and ultimately hopeful.

I feel honoured to have been in the same rooms as Faith Omole, Lashana Lynch and Nicky Elliot who played various male roles – worst of all the Polish pimp that struck fear into the audiences hearts only five minutes in to this masterpiece.

I’d say, go see it, but you can’t.  There are only 19 tickets per performance and they’re all sold.

So, really, I don’t know what else to say other than be aware, very aware of this hideous, heinous crime.

PS.  Credit also must go to Stef Smith for her superb script.

CATS Awards

My tickets came in this envelope. How damning is that - VIP? So nearly a contender, but that little question mark took it all away. Ah well.

It was the ninth CATS Awards held at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh yesterday and the event had a real sense of achievement about it.  Presented by Joyce McMillan and Clare Grogan we were treated to excellent potted reviews of each of the four shortlisted candidates in 10 categories of Scottish theatre by the great and the good of the Scottish Critics.

I got a real sense of us being in a “golden age” of theatre.  So many great shows, my only regret was that I had not seen them all.  In particular I wish I had seen White by Catherine Wheels (which won three times), The Three Musketeers and The Princess of Spain (at the Traverse) which sounded simply hilarious and the overall winner (which I tried to see); Roadkill again at The Traverse.

When you stand back and look at the real influence at work here the Traverse really does stand tall in it all, notwithstanding the fact that my own declared interest (The Lyceum ) has had a season to die for and another on the way and the incredible success of Dundee Rep’s Sweeney, many of the nominees were touched by the Trav, performed there or their writers had made their way through its hallowed doorway.

I know too that not everyone always loves the National Theatre of Scotland but with three different productions shortlisted here (not to mention Knives in Hens which is currently playing at, yes, The Trav and Dunsinane (the Lyceum) which was not eligible, its influence is there to be seen.

Highlight of the day?  Mary Brennan’s (slightly long but wholly hilarious) “performance” as she extolled the virtue of Scotland’s performance in the Children and Young People category which was won by White.

It’s a very great pity that although Roadkill is back for the Fringe again that hardly anyone can see it; indeed it’s already sold out.

The party afterwards, both in the Festival Theatre, but especially in Brass Monkey (A great wee boozer in Drummond Street) was fantastic.

It was so luvvieish that the lack of  Dickie Attenburgh’s presence was about the only thing short of perfection.