Interview: filmmaker Tim Barrow on his debut play, Union
The drama tackles the theme of Scottish Independence from a historical angle
This debut play by filmmaker Tim Barrow takes the honour of being the first major stage work of 2014 to tackle the year’s big political story, although its roots go back to 2008 when Barrow was touring The Inheritance, his debut feature as a writer and producer. Feeling curious, he began researching the 1707 Act of Union and what he learned had him writing scenes within an hour.
Fast-forward six years to a time when the subject couldn’t be more relevant, and the Lyceum’s artistic director Mark Thomson is on board to direct what Barrow calls ‘a big, boisterous, foul-mouthed theatrical celebration of the characters and events surrounding the Act of Union’. Throughout, says Barrow, we’ll meet the heirless Queen Anne, the Earl of Stair who commissioned the Glencoe Massacre, English spy Daniel Defoe and our narrator, poet and wig-maker Allan Ramsay.
‘The early 18th century was a grubby, chaotic, fast-moving period of history,’ he continues. ‘Corruption was rife, with both Scotland and England burdened by great debts. I was shocked to learn Scottish MPs received bribes to write their parliament out of existence, but unsurprised to discover it was their poor, bankrupt citizens who were left to struggle on as best they could. It's always the same people who suffer.'
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 20 Mar–Sat 12 Apr.