Surfing back into Scotland on a permanent wave of critical acclaim and audience approval, SIOBHAN REDMOND reflects on Fringe hairdressing hit Perfect Days and offers some forthright opinions on the etiquette of the promotional circuit. Words: Rob Fraser
'YES, I ADMIT IT - I BECAME THE FIRST woman ever to say “spunk” to Anne Diamond, live on air.’ Rattling the cage of the unacceptable face of day- time broadcasting would’ve been enough to guarantee actress Siobhan Redmond a certain degree of immor- tality in a Blue Peter elephant kind of way. Thankfully, her place in the cul- tural archives has been attained through talent, rather than notoriety.
Think of her incorruptible as a cop in Between The Lines, or irre- deemable as a trolley dolly in The High Life. Most of all, perhaps, think of her as Barbs, the hair stylist with reproductive urges in Liz Lochhead’s award-winning stage hit Perfect Days, now about to head out on tour after its success at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
The play was already well on the way to selling out down south when Redmond found herself in the studios of Greater London Radio and in an encounter with the former handmaid- en of Nick Owen and Roland Rat. Before going on air, Redmond heard Diamond’s colleague voice concern about her mother tongue’s clarity.
‘It was Anne’s co-presenter, Nick — not the Nick obviously, another Nick — who mentioned the Glaswegian accent,’ Redmond
explains. ‘So the second I went on, I had to say “HE-LL-OO CAN YOU UN-DER-STAND ME?” And then I couldn’t resist saying “spunk” because it was a direct quote from the play.’
Radio plugs aside, what seems on the surface to be a defiantly Scottish piece has been rapturously received in London. ‘I always knew this was a great play, but that’s when I realised it had truly universal appeal, because there’s nothing so parochial as a London theatre audience,’ the Glasgow-born star continues.
Pressed to explain the show’s pop- ularity, Redmond emphasises the feel-good factor: ‘It’s an extremely life—afﬁrming play —— I hate to sound so bloody Californian, but there’s no other term that describes it so well. Most actors arrive at the theatre ready for anything and go home drained. whereas I arrive exhausted and end the evening up for a party because I’ve had such a good time. I like play- ing Barbs, I find her delightful com- panyf
This rapport with the character may stem from the fact that the part was written with Redmond in mind, but the actress is quick to dispel any thoughts of her serving as Lochhead’s muse.
'Most actors arrive at the theatre ready for anything and go home drained, where- as I arrive exhausted and end the evening up for a party.’
‘Perish the image of me reclining on my chaise longue, leaﬁng through my filofax to see which writer may wish to write a play for me,’ Redmond says. ‘I think Liz wrote with particular voices in her head because that makes it easier. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the voices in Liz’s head will actually get to speak the lines on stage. It did in this case because, once I’d read the play, there was no way I was letting anyone else near it.’
The new Scottish dates mark something of a triumphant return for the show which premiered to rave reviews and packed houses" in Edinburgh last August, but will now get a chance to wow Glasgow audi- ences. ‘It’s not just homecoming for me, it’s the home of this play,’ Redmond insists. ‘And I’m looking forward to the Citz because the last time I played there. I was a nine-year- old in the back rows of the corps de ballet of the Sunshine School of Dance. I think it’s about time I was allowed back.’
It’s unlikely she’ll be made to wait so long again.
Perfect Days opens at the Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow, on Sat 16 Feb. See Theatre listings for full tour details.
4—18 Feb 1999 THE U8T17