Interview: Blythe Duff, star of David Harrower's crime monologue Ciara
'When Ciara receives that information it just makes her all the more powerful'
’I often think that reviewers should come back and see a show on the last night,’ laughs Blythe Duff on a break from rehearsals for Ciara’s quick return to the Traverse. ‘Of course, I know they’re bright enough to realise that plays evolve, but it can be an extraordinary change. Particularly with a solo show, because in many respects the audience are your other character, and until you know how they’re going to "perform" as a collective you don’t know what kind of piece you’ve got.’
A stalwart of the Scottish stage, Duff would have surely found such fears quickly dispelled when Ciara first appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year. Written by David Harrower and directed by the Trav’s Orla O’Loughlin, it casts her as the grown-up daughter and younger sister of a pair of dead Glasgow gangsters, now left to tend to family business on her own. Her performance is magnificent. ‘The piece is about what you take from your family, what the legacy is,’ she says. ‘What do you retain through your life? What do you cast aside? Everybody has that feeling at some point, and they have to face it. What does it mean to be a brother or a sister or a daughter or a son?’
There are layers to this apparently straightforward gangster tale, since Ciara is a woman in a very male world. Harrower subtly merges two 'Glasgows', one populated by rough-edged hard men and the other of Turner Prize nominees and affluent art collectors. ‘But she isn’t a victim, which I like,' says Duff. ‘Things have been done to her in her life, but because she isn’t aware of it she isn’t a victim, and when she receives that information it just makes her all the more powerful.’
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 21 Dec.