LONG RUNNING _ SHOW
Why is Tinsel Town’s KATE DICKIE doing a six mile jog every night? Words: Steve Cramer
the manager of a small coffee shop off Edinburgh‘s Royal Mile. take
me aback. Overcoming my tendency not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I ask why. “That girl. she‘s the lassie in Tinsel Town, isn‘t she?‘ he says. ‘I loved that show, she was great.’
By this time Kate Dickie is standing some way off in a cavem-like doorway leading to a close, anxious to get back to rehearsals after a longish interview. I suggest to the man that he let her know this in person. Shyly. clutching a coffee spoon and towel like a sombrero, he approaches her in the manner of supplication you saw in the Mexican villagers when they addressed the Magniﬁcent Seven. Dickie accepts his praise with grace and friendliness, as he informs her that he‘s taped every episode and watches them all the time. He adds. quite quickly. that his wife likes the show too. as if to countermand an urge to flirt.
An understandable urge: so vivacious is Dickie that she could inspire a twinkle in the eye from a marble statue of St Peter. Folk who saw Tinsel Town will recognise her as Lex, the troubled young woman with an abusive ex- husband on the hunt for her, who by the second series has a hand in the running of the nightclub where the group of friends gather.
Theatregoers will know her as a rising star. a performer of immense physical presence and creativeness, who ranks Cryptic’s Electra, Suspect Culture‘s Timeless, Boilerhouse‘s Blooded and Raindog‘s AD as the providers of her favourite recent parts.
What‘s so intriguing about her reunion with Boilerhouse for its latest project — aside from its reputation for the kind of inventive. imagistic and very physical theatre that seems to suit her — is the exertion required for the part. This new play by Gary Young. whose experience in film renders it a cinematic affair. requires Dickie‘s lead character to run over six miles each night.
Dickie is (and I mean this in the sporty sense of the words) extremely fit, and so very well prepared for the part. As she describes her role, I break into a light sweat and develop a stitch over my cappuccino.
‘I‘m soaked by the end of it. but it‘s very exhilarating,’ she says. ‘I‘m on a treadmill and I run from the beginning. The audience can really feel your exertion. It looked difficult at ﬁrst. but there‘s a real rhythm to Gary‘s language, so it‘s really easy to learn. as well as being stunning.’
Paul Pinson‘s production follows a young woman on the run after an unspecified emotional shock in an unfamiliar part of her own city in the dead of night. Between two vast cinema screens, on a moveable treadmill which sounds about as safe as a pn'vatised train, Dickie’s character encounters various people of the night — the production has a cast of eight — in her nocturnal perambulations.
‘I love this character,‘ Dickie says. ‘She‘s so cool. When she was a little girl and her sister got a doll for Christmas. she got a pair of running shoes. She’s extreme in a lot of senses. not a keep-fit fanatic. and she‘s had a wild time. The people she meets are also quite wild: they‘re edgy. sometimes frightening and sometimes funny. So it‘s not just spectacle. it‘s a big emotional journey.‘
Dickie has something of the renaissance woman about her. At 31. she‘s played some of the most innovative parts in the theatre. as well as recently making her debut as a writer. In From Graceland t0 the Garden Shed. part of the recent Singles Night bill from the now sadly disbanded lookOUT theatre company. she presented a one-woman character study which. if imperfect. showed great promise. Does she intend to pursue her writing? ‘Well. I‘m not chasing a commission. but I‘m keeping the option open.‘ she says. ‘I‘d like to write a piece with three characters some time.‘
Beneath her obvious honesty and boisterous energy. there‘s something of the stranger in paradise about Dickie. a girl of working class stock who finds herself in the world of theatre and television. Having lost her parents while still quite young. with a surviving stepmother a great comfort. you sense an insecurity about her that is endearing mainly because she doesn‘t need to feel that way. ‘I‘m always phoning my sister and saying: “I‘ll get found out.“‘ she says. ‘Someone will say: “She‘s shite.“ and I‘ll be away down the back stairs with my marching orders.‘
She seems a very long way from this to me. and to most Scottish theatre and TV audiences. And to café owners too. of course.
‘T hey’re on the house mate.‘ These always-welcome words. uttered by
‘She’s extreme in a lot of senses, not a keep-fit fanatic and she’s had a wild time’
Running Glrl plays Tramway, Glasgow, Thu 13-Sat 15 Jun; Corn Exchange Edlnburgh, Thu 4-Sat 6 Jul