Rona Munro’s play Pandas set for Traverse Spring Summer season
Romantic comedy explores links with China through three couples
Just a few weeks after Rona Munro’s Pandas was revealed as part of the Traverse’s Spring Summer season, Edinburgh Zoo announced that it would soon be home to the first pair of giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years. The timing may have been coincidental but links to China are not, as the Edinburgh-set play focuses on a Chinese-Scottish man who imports rugs with images of pandas on them to the capital.
But according to director Rebecca Gatward, who has previously worked with Munro at the RSC, the panda motif is more than mercantile. ‘Pandas are incredibly shy and very difficult to breed because they wait a long time before they choose their mate,’ she explains. ‘Rona’s central point is that individuals are quite shy about making commitments to people too, and really knowing when they’ve found their mate in the modern world.’
Set in springtime Edinburgh, Pandas explores the links between the city and China through three couples. For the director, this seasonal setting – primarily represented by the cherry blossom on the Meadows – is very important: ‘It’s to do with waking up after a hibernation, when all our senses are waking up as well. It’s about that kind of awakening to how you really feel and what you really want to do.’
And while there are obvious political links, the experience of seeing Pandas is primarily about having a great time at the theatre. ‘It’s so upbeat, it will be a really good night out,’ Gatward says. ‘Sometimes you go to the cinema to see a date movie – maybe this is a date play. We quite often go to the theatre to see stuff which is trying to educate us or lecture, but this is a really wonderful romantic comedy.’
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 19 Apr–Sat 7 May