The Bad Drive Well/Tongue Lie Tight

The Bad Drive Well/

The Arches, Glasgow, Thu 17-Sat 19 May.


Interesting idea: take two half-hour plays by young writer-directors who happily admit that they’re accustomed to ‘an above-average level of control’ over their own work. Give them a rehearsal room and a shared cast of two, and have them direct each other’s writing.

Alan McKendrick and Megan Barker are two of the most interesting recent beneficiaries of the Arches’ arms-open approach to emergent talent. Barker’s audacious, lyrical play Pit has now filled the venue twice and been selected for the Traverse’s 2007 Fringe programme. McKendrick is shortly to benefit from NTS Workshop funding, which will bring Stephanie Viola and Drew Friedman, sometime of New York company the Riot Group, over to develop a second project with him (after last year’s slick, brainy Finished With Engines). Both are arguably on the cusp of similar success, but their writing styles - Barker’s itchy and sensual, McKendrick’s sharp and witty - are polar opposites. Asking them about their own projects provokes similar responses: McKendrick’s The Bad Drive Well is ‘a romantic comedy - a date movie for the stage, played as straight as we can,’ while Barker describes Tongue Lie Tight, adapted from a JD Salinger story, as ‘a look at the moment just before everything cracks and the banks burst and everything explodes within two characters.’ However crazy a collaboration between them sounds, they treat each other’s writing with such obvious respect that it might just work.

‘I’d been saying for a while that I wanted to direct someone else’s work, and that of all the people I know who write, I’d be most terrified of tackling Alan’s,’ Barker says, with a grin. ‘I tend to rely on very personal experience - not that I’m just endlessly writing my own autobiography - but Alan’s work has a robustness and this continual relevance to a larger picture about it. It’s a challenge, to work in those ways.’ ‘Once we’d come up with the project, we stayed up all night talking, kicking ideas off the walls,’ says McKendrick. ‘I like what Megan does because it’s funny, it’s sensual and it’s totally fucked.’

(Kirsten Innes)

The Arches, Glasgow, Thu 17-Sat 19 May.

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