MEN SHOULD WEEP To 26 November.

Glasgow/Tour.

MEN SHOULD WEEP
by Ena Lamont Stewart.

Citizens Theatre 119 Gorbals Street G5 9DS To 8 October.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described/BSL Signed 30 Sept.
Captioned 5 Oct.
TICKETS: 0141 429 0022.
www.citz.co.uk

then tour to 26 November 2011.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 September.

Strong revival of a remarkable drama.
It’s both fitting and ironic the National Theatre Scotland should revive Ena Lamont Stewart’s 1947 play here, and now. Former Citizens’ Artistic Director Giles Havergal directed its first revival as part of the 1982 ‘Clydebuilt’ season assembled by the late John McGrath for his 7:84 Theatre Company – making that searing production the combined enterprise of Scotland’s two major theatre intelligences of the day.

Ironic because, as Graham McLaren’s revival opens in the Gorbals, Pitlochry Festival Theatre is playing James Bridie’s Dr Angelus, also from 1947. Bridie’s doctor despatches his barely-seen female relatives with a briskness matching the way the playwright, a major force in 1940s Scottish theatre, dismissed a woman playwright like Stewart. What other plays might have been written or developed through drafts without such treatment?

For Men is not being seen as it was first written. A clergyman’s daughter and librarian, Stewart wasn’t living the life of tenement poverty she portrays. At first she made the usual mistake of visiting only misfortune on the unfortunate. The revised scripts produced in 1982 and now salute the endurance of women, while showing how violence and negligence come from the continual fight to survive and find work.

Revived as some (English) councils are apparently planning to push the unemployed to the bottom of housing-lists, neither the 1930s nor the Scotland are the limits of Stewart’s relevance. Placed behind rusty industrial doors on Colin Richmond’s set, families like Maggie’s are stored away out of sight, cooped-up in some old container.

There’s a bed, but it’s no-one’s in particular, used by whoever needs it next. Meanwhile, characters push past each other in a cramped space. As in Walter Greenwood’s Lancashire portrait of unemployment Love on the Dole, there’s a battle to maintain all sorts of standards despite poverty and its temptations to let things slip and set people against each other. And there’s the same temptation for young women to attach themselves, at whatever price, to men with money.

Between scenes, workers’ songs reflect both resilience and protest – a reminder of the element Stewart did not explicitly include in her remarkable play.

Isa: Charlene Boyd.
Mrs Wilson: Maureen Carr.
Lizzie: Janette Foggo.
Alec: Kevin Guthire.
Removal Man/Singer: Arthur Johnstone.
Removal Man: Colin Little.
Mrs Bone: Pauline Lockhart.
Edie: Erin McCardie.
Jenny: Louise McCarthy.
Ernest: Grant McDonald.
Maggie: Lorraine M McIntosh.
John: Michael Nardone.
Granny: Ann Scott-Jones.
Mrs Harris: Anita Vettesse.
Lily: Julie Wilson Nimmo.

Director: Graham McLaren.
Designer: Colin Richmond.
Lighting: Colin Grenfell.
Sound: Nick Sagar.
Assistant director: Phil McCormack.

2011-09-29 13:21:05

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