I DIDN’T ALWAYS LIVE HERE
by Stewart Conn.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 20 April 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat, Sun 3pm.
Runs 1hr 55min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 21 August.
Carefully-composed focus on lives of quiet desperation among older women of sixties Glasgow.
While the Finborough hasn’t come up with a neglected classic – for that try Stewart Conn’s 1971 historical drama The Burning – this is a fine period piece, first seen at Glasgow Citizens’ Theatre in 1967. It came between the directorship of James Bridie at the Citizens and the theatre’s creative transformation under Giles Havergal, at a time of newly emergent Scottish playwrights moving beyond the influence of the two James – Barrie and Bridie – on Scottish drama. And when new housing such as Amie and Martha await in the play was going up across Glasgow, the play reflected the lives of those watching, and those caught-up in, change.
Martha, left only memories and her budgie, is amazed she lives north of the river, crossing the Clyde when her late husband took a job in the Partick shipyard, his Govan origin ringing-out to fellow-workers. Next door, Amie keeps up appearances in genteel poverty, annoyed her intended legacy to the church isn’t big enough to command it be used to buy bells, infuriated by a brisk young clergyman who insists their weight would destroy the church fabric.
Neighbours, the women have never been friends. Finally, Amie asks to store her bible (an unconvincing-looking tome) in Martha’s attic, despite the damp which persists because Martha is terrified of reprisals if she complains to the landlord. Other visiting men are disruptive – like the local hard-man her husband Jack tried diddling in the thirties, and workmen. There are looks back to wartime and post-war Glasgow, male authority overshadowing the women’s lives, and in Jack’s case, war depriving him of a son and his spirit.
Patiently building details of time and place through his action, Conn builds a picture of lives that haven’t moved far externally, but seem to have done so for the people living them. And Lisa Blair’s production stands firm around sympathetic, clear performances by Jenny Lee as working-class widow Martha and Eileen Nicholas as Amie. Alice Haig is lively as Ellen, from a younger, more confident generation of women, and the men who move in and out of the women’s lives are well-played.
Martha: Jenny Lee.
Amie: Eileen Nicholas.
Ellen: Alice Haig.
Jack: Carl Prekopp.
Slater: Lewis Rae.
Mate: James Robinson.
Burly Jim: Cameron Harris.
Francis Duggan: Ross F Sutherland.
Chick: Christopher Birch.
MacWhurrie: Joshua Manning.
Director: Lisa Blair.
Designer: Alex Marker.
Lighting: Brendan Albrey.
Sound: Max Pappenheim.
Composer: Josh Sneesby.
Costume: Susab Kulkami.
Make-up: Elaine Smith.
Assistant director: Jennifer Bakst.