Stuart Hepburn: 'Chic Murray's work still proves exquisitely drawn and flinty sharp'
- Brian Donaldson
- 1 April 2019
Revived play about the comedy master of Scottish surrealism
When someone comes to writing the definitive story of Scottish comedy, Chic Murray should find himself with a prominent chapter. This absurdist genius who was born in Greenock and would rarely be seen without a bunnet on his head, is the subject of A Play, A Pie and A Pint production penned and directed by Stuart Hepburn, and starring Dave Anderson as the eponymous wag. After its debut in 2018, Hepburn is determined not to lose the qualities which made that play work.
'I have tried to keep the play as close as possible to the original,' he says. 'Plays are fragile beasts and you tamper with them at your peril. It was so well-received before by Chic's family, the paying public and reviewers, that I observed the nostrum "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".'
In terms of where Murray resides in the pantheon of the great comics, Hepburn sees his place as sitting way beyond the borders of his own nation. 'For me, Chic is one of the great unsung heroes, not of merely Scottish or even British comedy, but internationally,' he insists. 'Comics such as Steve Martin, Billy Connolly and Robin Williams have lauded his surreal genius. His body of work survives the passage of time unblemished and still proves exquisitely drawn and flinty sharp. In his life he never had the full recognition I believe he so richly deserved, so in the centenary of the great man's birth, I hope my play can in some small way redress the balance.'
Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, Tue 2–Sat 6 Apr; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 9–Sat 13 April.