en years is a long time in theatre. Time enough to make a house-hold name of a Fringe dilettante. to make
a sitcom star of a sharp-talking thesp.
to turn a 22—year—old novice into a
thirtysomething stage guru. and time enough to bring a motley crew of leading lights full circle.
Gerard Kelly had his 23rd birthday on 27 May '
l982. It was the day that Still Life. the third instalment of John Byrne‘s S/ul) Buys trilogy. opened at the 'l'raverse Theatre. The first instalment back in 1978 had set on course the weighty career of one Robbie (‘oltrane. and
8'l'hc List 2‘)January ~ ll February 1993
A decade after its debut production. John Byrne’s
i l i l
Still Life is being revived by Rain Dog complete with the original cast. Mark Fisher talks to time-travellers Gerard Kelly and Andy Gray about their starring roles.
Still Life was likewise to establish the names of actors Billy McColl. Gerard Kelly. Elaine Collins. Andy Gray. Sandy Morton and director David Hayman. not to mention the chain- smoking. moustachioed. Renaissance figure of Mr Byrne himself. Running throughout that summer of 82 together with the other two plays. Still Life was destined to enjoy a celebrated London run and a triumphal return to Scotland at the (‘itizens' the following year. At the end of one particular evening in which all three plays were shown in a marathon Traverse session. there was. according to critic
l Joyce McMillan. a full house of ‘hot. sweaty
and delighted people who need no convinciQ about the stature of Byrne’s work.‘ The knockabout tales of Phil. Spanky and Hector. three working-class Paisley lads battling with adolescent verve against the management and regulations in the slab room of a 50s carpet factory captured the imagination of a nation and won the trilogy the rare honour of cult status. There have. of course. been productions of the plays since. but none has matched the impact of the original. None until now. that is. David Hayman has his birthday on 9 February i 1993. the day that the original company gets ' back on stage to relive the glory of Still Life for the ﬁrst time in a decade. Behind the move is Glasgow‘s enterprising actors‘ company. Rain Dog. which. since its debut production of One Flew Over the Cue/mu 's Nest less than two years ago. has carved itself a niche. albeit an unfunded niche. in the Scottish theatre scene. presenting large-cast. accessible productions packed with urban Scottish vigour. Rain Dog i might have street-cred on its side. but it is
The knockabout tales of Phil, Spanky and ; Hector, captured the imaginations of a i nation and won the trilogy the rare 3 honour of cult status.
surely a measure of the abiding affection for the play that the company has been able to assemble such a glamorous cast. Any one of them could earn more from opening a supermarket than the yield they‘re likely to get from Rain Dogs profit-share but. while their puzzled agents may have been left scratching their heads. a few phone calls and a quick availability check. and the show was ready to roll.
Winding down from the panto season and enjoying a lull before the next batch of TV ' work. Gerard Kelly (Spanky) and Andy Gray (Phil) are taking a break in rehearsal to remember. like their characters in Still Life. the