Dir. Andy Arnold, Tron Theatre, 24th July – 2nd August
The 2014 Commonwealth Games did much more for Glasgow than to showcase international athleticism. They also opened the doors for some fantastic Scottish theatre, showcasing the best of Scottish culture to a captive audience, perfectly evinced by the Tron Theatre’s Edwin Morgan’s Dreams and Other Nightmares, a play which biographies one of Scotland’s great poets, written by another, Liz Lochhead.
We see Morgan in his last years, living in an nursing home and terrified of the dreams he feels to be real. ‘Do you ever wonder if a person could live two utterly different lives without either self being aware of the other?’ he asks his biographer James, who remains skeptical. The audience, however, may feel differently. The play weaves between Morgan in his nursing home bed, and scenes of his dreams, his nightmares, and his poems. These scenes are powerful and dark, mixing gritty realism with the fantastical, contrasting strongly against the Edwin Morgan we see in his nursing home bed. At points we see flashbacks into his past, scenes between Morgan and his lovers, his friends. Each presents a different side of the man and a different life that he led.
David McKay’s portrayal of Edwin Morgan is strong, his swift, strong shifts between each different facet of the man are what allow the audience to accept these multiple lives in one, while Stephen Duffy takes on the many different roles opposite Morgan, particularly the men who were his muses, with style and finesse. We wholeheartedly accept both the quiet life of the professor and the illicit life of the gay lover at a time when homosexuality was still illegal. Morgan, the men in his life, and Glasgow itself are all given a gritty and dark undercurrent.
The strength of the performances and script, the atmospheric lighting and music combine to produce a wonderful piece of theatre looking into the life of one of Scotland’s greatest creatives, making it hard to leave without a smile for Edwin, and for the city that inspired him.