Tag Archives: Kevin Murray

REVIEW: Love Song To Lavender Menace – Platform, Glasgow

It’s easy to forget about Section 28 and it’s ramifications, living life closeted in the shadows, the Gay scene largely, if not entirely underground, the height of the AIDS crisis and the fact that homosexuality was illegal in Scotland until 1980. While things aren’t exactly perfect now, a lot has changed.

James Ley hadn’t even heard of Lavender Menace, the Edinburgh LGBT bookshop founded by Bob Orr and Sigrid Nielson, that existed from 1982 to 1986, when he won a LGBT History Month Cultural Comission to write a new play.

But that is exactly the subject matter of his celebratory play, Love Song to Lavender Menace.

Bookshop workers Lewis (Pierce Reid) and Glen (Matthew McVarish) spend the last night of Lavender Menace packing up the remaining stock while rehearsing their “homage” to Bob and Sigrid. The dreaded ‘W’ word – Waterstones is moving to town, LGBT literature is becoming available in mainstream bookshops, and Bob and Sigrid are moving on. With every book packed away comes a memory, from the early days as a bookstall in the cloakroom of Princes Street nightclub, Fire Island, through life as a Gay man in Edinburgh in the 80s, to the spectre of Section 28, which looms on the horizon. All the while, exploring the significance of some seminal pieces of LGBT writing, and all done with humour and pathos.

This is a tiny slice of life, from a very specific time and place, and because of that, all the more engaging and relatable. While the tone can be almost flippant at times, its serves as a timely reminder of the groundwork that has gone in to raising the profile of the LGBTIQ community in the public eye. Pierce Reid is mercurial as the idealistic Lewis, Matthew McVarish endearing as the more pragmatic Glen. Pierce in particular looks to have a glittering career ahead of him.

Charming, amusing, though-provoking and laugh-out-loud funny. A worthwhile work, written and performed in such a way that it will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. It also leaves you wanting to see what’s next for playwright Ley and these talented actors.

Images: Aly Wight

REVIEW: Stand By – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Dundee. Present day. The claustrophobic back of a police riot van. Four officers wait for a negotiator to do his job, wait while a samurai sword-wielding man is threatening to kill himself and his baby son.

From the pen of former Tayside police officer Adam McNamara, Stand By isn’t your stereotypical adrenaline-filled police thriller, instead it’s a thought-provoking and highly arresting (forgive the unintentional pun) drama about the grim realities of life in the police force in 2017.

McNamara’s very real experience of the subject matter imbues the production with credibility, coupled with the wholly naturalistic, and expletive riddled dialogue, means the whole piece is grimly realistic and entirely believable.

McNamara effectively (and amusingly) conveys the mundane realities and frustrations of existing in such close quarters with your colleagues, and the thick skin required to deal with it. But, underneath the banter, much bigger discussions arise about the consequences (for both the officers and the public) of constant financial cuts, the day-to-day dangers and the personal costs of the job.

McNamara carries off the role of team leader Chris, with his precarious personal life, with gravitas, and Andy Clark is sure-footed as Dundonian police veteran Davey, hiding his own personal problems behind a sharp tongue and a world-weary wit. Jamie Marie Leary is an effective young officer determined to drag her colleagues into the 21st Century, and Laurie Scott is suitably annoying as mouthie new transfer from The Met, Marty, a man with a closet full of skeletons of his own to hide.

The production is greatly enhanced by Natasha Jenkin’s clever set design which perfectly confines the action and engenders a sense of psychological claustrophobia, while never limiting the drama. The clever use of the single-earpieces the audience wear, that convey messages from the police control room in real-time throughout the play, adds to the experience and gives a small glimpse into the pressure officers on a call are under. (A nice touch is that the voices are provided by some of Scotland’s finest actors – Ron Donachie, Richard Rankin and Jack Lowden to name a few).

This is an absolutely gripping piece of theatre (that would make a perfect TV police drama), a breath of fresh air that deserves to be seen by a much wider audience.

By the end, you really do believe the oft-repeated mantra: “the job is fucked”, and can’t help wonder what on earth the consequences will be for us all.