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The Traverse Breakfast Plays have become a 9am Fringe fixture over the last few years. This year's season of six plays have been selected and developed from The Traverse 50, Scotland's new writing theatre's year-long initiative designed to develop and hone writers' playwriting skills.
First out the traps is this brutally dark look at domestic abuse in a family which has somewhat miraculously stayed together despite the behaviour of its drunken head of the house. As with the soup on the stove at the start of Emma Callander's script-in-hand work-in-progress production, tensions between the three generations of women who may or may not have battered Jimmy Chisholm's unreconstructed patriarch into submission are simmering to boiling point.
This is seriously grown-up stuff from Primrose, who takes all the trappings of dour domestic drama and explodes it into unexpected territory which a full-length rewrite might make even wilder. Even at this stage, however, the text has prompted a set of no-holds-barred performances from a cast of five.
Repeated on August 19
Blinded By The Light
One of the joys of the Traverse's early morning season of Breakfast Plays is the liberation it provides for writers to play with form.
Sylvia Dow takes full advantage of this in a piece that criss-crosses a first-hand account of striking miners who occupy a Blackhall colliery in 1982 with notes from a young woman living in a future-world where society has moved underground. As tensions unravel down in the pit, the air becomes equally stifling in both places. It is a Ladybird children'S book, however, that allow those in both time-spheres to come up for air.
On one level, the Blackhall set sections are a timely reminder about how one of the UK's most profitable industries was gradually and wilfully destroyed. There is something more going on here too about community and life beyond being kept in the dark, while EM Forster's short story The Machine Stops springs to mind in this section's science-fiction tinged parallel.
Emma Callander's script-in-hand mini production allows Dow to raise concerns about how the world has been and may yet be shaped to its detriment.
Repeated on August 20
The Day The Pope Emptied Croy
When Pope John Paul II came to Glasgow in 1982, it left an awful lot of Catholic churches in the vicinity unattended. This is the starting point of Martin McCormick's contribution to the Traverse Breakfast plays, in which a glued-up pair of would-be teenage punks break into one such institution in Croy intent on stealing its chalice. To use as bargaining power with the bullying big brother of Finbarr, the Catholic half of the operation.
This is all dressed up as something of a comic caper in Emma Callander's work in progress, and even when the pair chance upon a man wearing a mini skirt, who has been beaten and hung on the cross by a balaclava sporting gang, it looks like it might veer into Whistle Down The Wind territory. A bond of sorts is formed with the man, only to be cruelly upended in the final moments of this meticulously plotted study.
Repeated on August 21