✽✽ One Million Tiny Plays About Britain The series of snapshots of British life inspired by the Guardian column continues at the Citz. Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 5 Jun. ✽✽ Sweeney Todd One of Dundee Rep’s most ambitious undertakings to date, an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s bloodthirsty musical. See review, page 92. Dundee Rep, until Sat 12 Jun. ✽✽ Gin and Tonic and Passing Trains Ramesh Meyyappan provides a rational interpretation of Charles Dickens’ frequently adapted ghost story ‘The Signalman’. See preview, page 92. Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 28 & Sat 29 May. ✽✽ Any Given Day Linda McLean’s discomforting exploration of love and forgiveness brings together a sterling cast, including Kate Dickie and Kathryn Howden, in a production helmed by Dominic Hill. See preview, left. Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 29 May–Sat 19 Jun. ✽✽ Doubt: a Parable John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer-winning play focuses on the battle of wills and suspicion between a rigidly traditional nun and and a progressive parish priest. See preview, page 91. Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 1–Sat 5 Jun. ✽✽ Northern Ballet Theatre: Dangerous Liaisons One of the UK’s leading ballet companies translates Choderlos de Laclos’ complex 19th century novel into a clear dance narrative. See preview, page 91. Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Wed 2–Sat 5 Jun. ✽✽ Coconut Badger Mark MacNicol’s play sets an ageing psycho against a man with a love dilemma. See preview, page 91. Admiral Bar, Glasgow, Thu 3 & Fri 4 Jun.

Both sides of the story The Traverse has assembled a dream cast and director for Linda McLean’s new play about love and forgiveness, as Kelly Apter discovers

When you’ve spent time and energy creating something new, you don’t hand it over to just anybody. Fortunately for Linda McLean, her new play Any Given Day is being looked after by what she herself calls a ‘dream team’. Performed by the Traverse Theatre Company, the play has director Dominic Hill at the helm, and actors Kate Dickie, Phil McKee, Kathryn and Lewis Howden among the cast. When asked what she thinks of them, McLean’s superlatives come thick and fast ‘Fantastic. All first choices. Brilliant.’

McLean’s reaction is understandable. Red Road star Dickie is always a force to be reckoned with, while, surprisingly, this is the first time brother and sister Kathryn and Lewis have worked together, despite their prolific careers in Scotland. ‘It’s fantastic because they’ve got an absolute shorthand in rehearsal,’ says McLean. ‘Sometimes you have to be careful when you start working with another actor, but Lewis and Kathryn immediately know what each other is thinking. And Phil and Kate, well they’re just legends.’ Not that we’ll see them all on stage together, because Any Given Day is in fact two plays in one. Performed one after the other, but set during the same period of time, the plays have two different casts that are related although quite how is only revealed during the second play. Tantalisingly little has been written about the show’s content, but as McLean says, ‘There’s a really good reason for that.’

What we do know is the first play features Sadie and Bill, a couple waiting in their flat for Bill’s niece Jackie to arrive. The second focuses on Jackie herself,

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sitting in a bar with Dave in a nameless city. ‘They’re written in completely different styles in terms of language,’ says McLean, ‘and address two themes that caring for someone is a profound experience, and forgiveness of one’s self and others is absolutely necessary.’ She also warns that the audience should ‘be prepared to be uncomfortable.’ The man charged with helping that happen is director Dominic Hill. What was it like to work with two distinct scripts in one play? ‘Rather fun, actually,’ he says. ‘They’re very different worlds. The second one seems more naturalistic and connected to the world we know. Whereas the first has two people who operate at their own pace and live their lives in a rather beautiful, ritualistic way.’

For Hill, getting beneath the skin of Sadie, Bill et al was imperative, leading to some lengthy discussions with McLean. ‘There are a lot of autobiographical influences in the play,’ he explains. ‘So Linda knows the characters better than anybody, not just because she wrote them, but because they’re based on people she knows.’ Despite McLean’s warning about discomfort, as Hill says, the play also captures some of life’s good things: ‘On one level it’s a celebration of life and love, so there’s a lot of joy. But what the play also says is that those situations can be very fragile and sometimes it can be hard to hold on to the nice things in a world that seems bent on destroying them.’

Any Given Day, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 1–Sat 19 Jun.