I grew up with Borderline and the 7:84 theatre company. In those days theatre companies had funding to take theatre to the masses and as a result edgy productions were available and well attended as the ticket prices were affordable. My teachers took us Glasgow overspill children to see real plays, traditional and modern, and the habit stuck.
How times change.
Now children seem to only go to panto or school organised Bard productions in city theatres. The upshot of this was that I was the second youngest person in the audience of about 30 people at the HAC to see a very good production of a recent sell out Edinburgh Festival play specially touring to mark the 4oth anniversary of Borderline. It has been performed all over the country and in New York.
The two hander, believably acted by Lewis Howden and Pauline Knowles, A Slow Air revolves around a family reunited after a decade and a half of estrangement. A graphic novelist cartoonist is approaching his 21st birthday and he turns up on his uncle Athol’s doorstep for no apparent reason. The story is told in alternating monologues – he said, she said – about the same event. One character will sit in darkness while the other talks and details of a buttoned up life compared with a wild hand to mouth existence emerge. No-one is fully happy or innocent and with nods to the recent past of terrorism in Glasgow and the more proactive marches on the Mound of the past fleet in and out of the pictures being painted. Morna is the kind of woman who will overstep boundaries with her boss or on a bus whereas Athol will worry about his next contract and any part he played in terrorism no matter how insignificant and yet can manage to consign his sister and her boy to a drawer in his mind not to be opened.
There is pathos and comedy in the script written by David Harrower as we edge towards that moment where Athol and Morna will have to decide if the pains of the past or the efforts of the present will determine the future.
There is a lovely moment where Athol is able to show Josh that he has never been forgotten and “Don’t You Forget About Me” is of more significance than one would expect from the tones of the monologues at the start.
“You can feel blood. You can. Even after all this time.”
A lovely play that deserves to be seen by more than the turnout at the HAC last night. The stripped down stage didn’t used to mean stripped down audiences. It’s time to support your local theatre once more.