Swindle and Death
Tron, Glasgow, Wed 11–Sat 14 Jun; Byre, St Andrews, Mon 16–Fri 20 Jun
There’s a long history of plays by Scottish writers about the Scottish theatre, and too often these pieces become mired in self referential jokes. While Peter Arnott’s new play strays into this territory, the dangers inherent to the genre look like being avoided, given the professionalism of Alastair McCrone’s Mull Theatre and the pure quality of the writer.
‘This is the nearest I’ve come to shitting where I eat,’ explains Arnott, who’ll be stepping away from his characteristic style (exemplified by last year’s Cyprus, a dark political drama). ‘Cyprus was a very serious play, which I rewrote three times on its run. This is a thing that developed in the middle of all that; it was just fun, an out and out comedy that I wrote in the middle of all that as a kind of relief.’
The piece centres on an Arts Council employee who infiltrates the theatre company of the title in an attempt to uncover how the degenerate blend of ironic tartan toryism that the company perpetuates continues to be funded. The piece promises satire which goes beyond the theatre to Scottish identity itself. ‘As a nation we’ve avoided defining ourselves, except as not being English,’ says Arnott. ‘This company slightly sends that up. Some of their jokes are a little dodgy, but they aren’t anti English jokes, they’re more taking the piss out of the Scottish – so hopefully there’ll be something to offend everyone.’