THEATRE - Love's in the air at Oran Mor

LOVE affairs, illicit meetings involving a prostitute, a soldier, a chambermaid...

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Iain Robertson, Mark Wood and Isabelle Joss rehearse a scene for La Ronde. Picture: Mark Mainz
Iain Robertson, Mark Wood and Isabelle Joss rehearse a scene for La Ronde. Picture: Mark Mainz

the windows of Oran Mor are set to steam up this week.

Because the Play, Pie and a Pint offering is a modern take on Arthur Shnitzler's classic La Ronde – a play written in 1897 but not performed until 1920 when it caused an outcry because of its sexual content.

And now the same themes are to be explored in this re-working by 10 post-graduate television writing students in Take Me If You Need Me.

The young writers are all studying at Glasgow Caledonian University on a course sponsored by SHED Productions, the company behind TV hit Waterloo Road.

Course tutor Anne Marie DiMambro revealed how the TV writers of the future came to be writing for the stage.

"Oran Mor producer David MacLennan came to the university to do a workshop with the students and suggested they write a piece for Oran Mor," said the former High Road writer and playwright. "The idea is that the students got to write five-minute vignettes on the themes explored in La Ronde.

"It's a fabulous chance for them to get their work performed – the work will be performed by two actors, using a simple structure."

The tutor adds: "It will be a different experience for the students and while the result won't be a standard play, there will be some journey from start to finish."

In La Ronde, each series of encounters sees one of the partners form a liaison with another person, and so it continues.

Is it a form of musical beds? "Yes, it is," says Anne Marie," smiling.

"But what's really great is that Oran Mor has taken such an interest in the students here on the MA Fiction Writing course.

"It really does encourage young people to write. And the venue has already funded their theatre soap, Westenders."

Iain Robertson, with Mark Wood and Isabelle Joss, has been busy rehearsing the students' vignettes.

"I'm really looking forward to it," says the Govan-born actor.

"It's great to be able to see the talent of the future getting the chance to be heard.

"The work will cut right across the range of emotions; it will be funny, provocative and dramatic.

"And as an actor, that's the sort of challenge we relish."

Iain is one of Scotland's most accomplished stage actors, having appeared several times at the Royal National Theatre in plays such as The Mysteries and The Good Hope.

In Scotland, he's starred in Romeo and Juliet and Blood Wedding at the Citizens Theatre and The Slab Boys Trilogy at the Traverse Theatre.

He's appeared in My Romantic History at the Bush Theatre in London and has starred in several Oran Mor plays.

Next year he is back at the Citizens in Donna Franceschild's Takin' Over The Asylum, the story set in a hospital radio station, which happens to be a Glasgow psychiatric hospital.

Takin' Over The Asylum was originally a BBC Scotland TV drama, which has been re-written for the theatre.

"When I was offered the chance to appear in the play I was sure I'd be offered the part of Campbell, the young manic depressive who was played by David Tennant in the series," says Iain.

"But instead I was offered the part of alcoholic double glazing salesman Eddie McKenna, the aspiring disc jockey, who was played by Ken Stott.

"My first thought was 'That can't be right. I'm too young to play the Ken Stott part!'

"But when I looked back I realised that the series was made in 1994.

"Ken Stott was only 37 when he played Eddie and I'm now 31, so there isn't a big age difference."

The actor who played Gash in Rab C.Nesbitt adds, smiling; "It's a wee bit scary when you start to land the grown-up roles."

l Take Me If You Need Me, Oran Mor, until Saturday.

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