At 26, ISABEL WRIGHT has already established herself as one of Scotland’s leading writing talents. Now she’s got two plays back to back.

Words: Steve Cramer

he lormidable mind behind

the smiling and pretty pre-

Raphaelite leatures ol' lsabel Wright are what most emerges in conyersation. ()yer a cranberry juice and the occasional laugh at the 'l'rayerse bar. there are l’lashes ol' an open-mindedness and willingness to ask questions that attest to a balanced and rigorous thought process.

Part or this is thanks to her rapid education l'roin some ol the best people Scotland‘s meagrely resourced theatre can proyide. Alter her 1998 hit .S'pt'n/ruu at the 'I‘ron. she worked with a succession ol notable collaborators. ‘l’y'e been lucky in that [ye worked with people who took my work seriously.‘ says Wright. who recently landed the much-coyeted post or writer in residence at the Bush Theatre in London. ‘.-\t l.ook()ut I worked with .\'icola .\lc('artney. who‘s a writer. so haying that link helped enormously. and when I did Blow/ml at Boilerhouse. they were great in helping me deyelop the physical theatre side ol‘ the work.‘

More recently. Wright’s Peeps/mn- opened in lingland with another noted physical theatre company. lirantic Assembly.

But it’s character and storyline that are at the

lorel'ront ol' her new play. .llr l’lm't'lm. The story ol'

tour men engaged in a murky drugs-testing procedure in a medical ward. raising questions about medical and scientific ethics. is directed by acclaimed expatriate American Wilson .\lilan. In his eight years of directing new British work. he has added to the reputation he established in his British debut at the 'l'rayerse with A'I'l/I'I' .lm' in I‘M—l.

What's intriguing about this play. though. is as llllll‘ll the gender ol the characters as the situation. Wright's work. until now. has locttsed on women. with few male characters to speak ol. An all male cast must haye presented a challenge: ‘Well. l‘yc always tried to write about my direct experience and it would be arrogant to claim that I know all about male characters in isolation: she says. ‘\\'ilh [Hum/I'd. there was this all l‘emalc cast. which made working in the rehearsal room simpler. but the guys in the cast here haye been great. You work collaboratiyely. and when they say something like "a guy wouldn‘t do that”. you can keep working on it.~ -

In early March. Wright's linglish \crsion ol /5

‘I write about my direct

experience and it would , . be arrogant to I play little games with know all about men’

The Wright stuff

‘l’ve been lucky in that I’ve worked with people who took my work seriously,’ says Wright

Serum/s by Quebec wmu/crkim/ lirancois .-\rchambault will open at the 'l'raycrsc. It also centres on male relationships. this time between two brothers. In it. Claude. a thirtyish drop-out with little to show for his lil‘e but a repeated success with women. brings

home Charlotte. a new girl. who excites the interest ol'

his brother. .\lathieu a man with cerebral palsy. who has made a great career stlccess (it. his lil'e.

'lt's really about the loye between these two brothers.’ sa)s Wright. 'lt's a kind ol' ('y'runu (/('

Bergerac idea. but with a modern exploration or

relationships. ('laude has dropped out ol‘ society. and tries to act like a rebel. but there's really something dishonest about him. as it he‘s not really going l‘or it. \lathieu has really achieyed. and he's able to

(‘harlotte he’s yery playl’ul. But each ol' them is looking l‘or soinctliing.'

liach ol' these plays exists clcyerly between the worlds ol’ pure psychology and ol‘ the broader society. and it is this l‘incly—struck balance that marks out Wright‘s work. She puts it more simply when she remarks: 'l like my play s to be ulmu/ something.‘ So do we.

Mr Placebo previews at the Traverse, Edinburgh from Fri 7 Feb, and opens on Tue 11 Feb.

Stage Whispers

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