Sacred and profane

The latest play from Sue Glover, author of Bondagers, uses a real- life story to scotch the myths and expose the hypocrisy which surrounds prostitution, director Myra McFadyen explained to Sue Wilson.

At first sight. there might appear to be little in common between Sue Glover's last play. the triumphant Bandagers. and her latest work Sacred Hearts. currently on tour with Communicado. apart from the fact that both focus on groups of women. While Bondage/2r explored the lives of tied female agricultural workers in the Borders. Sat-red Hearts. set in Lyon in I975. dramatises the real-life story of the city's prostitutes who, following several attacks on their number by a serial killer. staged a strike then occupied the cathedral in protest at police inaction. Thematically. however, the two plays are linked by their attempts to uncover the hidden realities of women’s lives hidden in Bmidagers by history. in Sacred Hearts by stereotype and myth.

‘Prostitution itself is actually legal, but soliciting isn’t, so women are constantly being arrested and fined while men are free to pick them up.’

‘The tack that Sue‘s taken is to show that these are just ordinary women. doing this for a living: they‘re somebody's daughter. somebody‘s sister.‘ says

Striking poses: Communicado in Sacred Hearts director Myra .\lcl’adyen. ‘I think that challenges a lot of people‘s perceptions it’s interesting talking to people. especially guys. after the show. because so many of them still have this very cliched image of prostitution. all fishnet tights and mini-skirts »- and there are some prostitutes who put on that kind of “armour” as Sue puts it. to go out to work. because the way they see it. when they're actually doing the business they just switch. they‘re not actually there at all; as one of the characters says. two hours later and they can't rcmctnber what he looks like. The make tip and the facade is all part and parcel ofthat. this barrier they build to protect thetnsclyes.‘

Mcliulyen also sees the details of the Lyon story.

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and its parallels with the Yorkshire Ripper saga. : which was unfolding around the same time. as a particularly pointed expose of society‘s double l standards its-ants the oldest profession. "l‘he main

thrust of the play. the way I looked at it. is about the

1 people who gathered outside the church to hurl l

t hypocrisy running through the whole story: the

police not being in any hurry to catch the nturdercr and they never did catch him A because he was i “only” killing prostitutes. with some policemen eyen . saying that he was actually helping them to “clean the streets"; the hypocrisy of the church. and the

abuse. saying prostitutes shouldn‘t be allowed to take over a place of worship. eyen though it's meant to be a place of sanctuary for anyone; the hypocrisy behind . the fact that prostitution itself is actually legal. but soliciting isn‘t. so that women are constantly being arrested and lined < and have to go back on the streets to earn the money to pay the fines ~ \s bile men are free to pick them up.‘

‘lt’s interesting talking to guys, after the show, because so many of them still have this very clichéd image of prostitution, all fishnet tights and mini-skirts.’

lt may be about the oldest profession. but Sat-ml Hearts represents a new challenge for Melsulyen. making her directorial debut with the play. ‘It inst scetned to be a natural progression. haying acted for so long. and having always been interested in the other side.‘ she says of the those. "l‘he opportunity to work with one of Scotland's top companies. and with such a good writer as Sue. seemed too good a chance I to miss. lt's a big responsibility. because at the end of l the day l have to make the decisions. bill the kind of directing I prefer to work with is the kind that companies like Communicado use. where eyery one has a voice and a great deal of discussion goes on it t can lead to some stressful moments. but I think it's oiily ottt of struggle that you can create something worthwhile.‘ Sacred Hearts. {Ida/II Start/t Theatre. Kir/s't'a/t/y. Thurs 3’ Sat 5 Mar; 'Irart’rse 'l'la'alrt'. lit/i'a/iare/I. Matt 7 Sun 20 Mar: Trait 'I‘la'alrt’. (l/asgmr, I-‘n 25 Mar Sit/I 3’ Apt:

nam- Dog days

The temptation to ‘do’ Shakespeare, to find some fresh and fancy way of performing him, can very easily lead to gimmick; like the Balinese Macbeth - I once saw that told you an awful lot about Bali, but precious little about the Scottish play. But David Thacker’s . gimmick, if gimmick it is, goes one step further than most. llis nsc , production of the early romance, The . Two Gentlemen 01 Verona, not only I relocates in time to the 1930s, but I also appropriates a complete musical l score from George Gershwin, Cole I Porter et al. 1



i Dominc Arnold and Sarah-Jane llolm in a 1930:;

So is this iust stylish imposition or is there iustilication for it? ‘I have to say




I never felt that with this,’ says Sarah- ' friendship, forgiveness and trust. ‘lt’s Jane llolm who has been with the company since August playing young lover Silvia. ‘All the songs are pertinent to what’s gone before or what’s about to happen. It’s a bit like a sub-plot to the play and in that sense it isn’t at all imposing. We do

. the play and the music is an added

Quite a substantial added extra,

actually. There’s a pre-show medley of mood-setting numbers, further songs at every scene change and an on- stage chanteuse plus orchestra. Even shakin’ Shakespeare’s one original lyric is given the 303 treatment. But by all accounts, the play’s themes of love, friendship, forgiveness and trust make perfect bed-fellows with these songs whose themes are, well, love,

a very simple play in that it is quite fundamental,’ says Holm, ‘but my argument is that I don’t call those things shallow. That’s what makes the play very accessible to the audience.’ Gimmick Number Two is the dog: a wirey, grey cross-whippet Scottish deerhound called Woolly who has been a star of the production since it first opened in 1991. ‘You have to be prepared for him to steel the scene,’ admits llolm. ‘One day there was a guide dog in the audience and it started barking. There was this conversation between the two dogs and everything had to stop. That’s what’s wonderful about live theatre.’ (Mark Fisher) Two Gentlemen of Verona, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, 28 Feb—12 Mar.

The list 35 February Al() March I‘ll).145