A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity
Douglas Maxwell play charts middle class woman who discovers richness of swearing
'I started off with the idea of calling someone ‘a cunt’ but meaning it nicely,’ says Douglas Maxwell of his new play, ‘and then I thought of people who just don’t swear. Theatre’s a sweary industry, working in it we assume that everyone swears, but some people just don’t have it in their vocabulary.’ He says this one-act two-hander, directed by the Trav’s artistic director Orla O’Loughlin, is ‘like My Fair Lady in reverse’, the tale of a middle class woman who can’t find the words to express her grief when her husband dies, and is taught to swear by a working class guy from the haulage depot she owns.
‘She’s interested in language, she’s the kind of woman who does crosswords,’ says Maxwell, ‘but she looks down on that kind of thing. Yet she comes to learn there’s a richness to swearing, that it can be used to express meaning. That’s what language is about, articulating how you feel.’ It sounds like it was great fun to write. Did he have to do much research into swearing? ‘No,’ he laughs, ‘I knew it all already.’
Oran Mor, Glasgow, Mon 18--Sat 23 Feb; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 26 Feb to Sat 2 Mar.