Brian Beacom

HAVING a genuine American voice in a New York-based play adds a real authenticity.

The Mother****** With The Hat, now running at the Tron Theatre, offers a searing insight into the confused, conflicted, but often funny lives of five New Yorkers.

Playing one of the interconnected characters, Victoria, is right up Renee Williams’ street, an actress who has lived and worked in New York for nine years.

However, she smiles as she reveals the street she’s happy to live in right now is a quiet suburban one in the heart of quaint Kirkintilloch.

“I get teased about Kirkie a lot,” she says, smiling. “But I like it there. I didn’t want to be in the city when I first came to Glasgow. At heart, I’m more of a Kirkintilloch type person.”

Renee grew up near Malibu Beach Renee and was a “high energy” child. After studying Music and Dance she was asked to stand in for an acting role - and became hooked.

She moved to New York to study and worked in Hell’s Kitchen. But was never at home in the high energy city.

“It was alienating,” she recalls with a wry smile. “I’m too happy to live there. It bothered people.”

After several years teaching and acting in Italy, Renee came to Scotland to study.

Over the years, she has appeared in a range of productions, working with the likes of David Leddy’s Fire Exit theatre company.

Now, the role of Victoria in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s New York drama is one she would have hated to miss out on.

Victoria, we learn, was once a trader in Wall Street who finds herself caught up in drug dependency.

“This applies here too, if you are in fast-paced lifestyle and the pressure is always on there’s a real temptation to take something to help you through the day.

“But before you know it you’re waking up next to strangers.”

Victoria gets her act together and attends AA, where she meets her husband-to-be, Ralph (Jermaine Dominique), a counsellor.

“Let’s just say he’s the type who doesn’t really think of anyone but himself. But here he is meeting a woman who’s clever and still has money and a house.”

But five years on, the husband who came with the seemingly perfect wrapping begins to unravel.

Meantime, another couple Jackie and Veronica (Francois Pandolfo and Alexandra Riley) are staging their own personal war. And to make up the group there’s Cousin Julio (Kyle Lima), a camp Latino with a real heart who thinks he’s as tough as Jean Claude Van Damme.

“Each character comes to a dilemma in the way they live their life,” says Renee.

Each is entirely believable.

“I work in the restaurant business when I’m not acting and so many women go through what my character has to endure. I hear the stories of the unfaithful marriages.

“I hear stories of people who have managed to make a comfortable life for themselves and lost it, or almost lost it all, because of drugs.”

Thankfully, this world of infidelity and duplicity is not something Renee is overly familiar with.

“I’ve been married over twenty years,” she says, smiling. “But let’s put it this way; if my husband cheated on me he’d be dead.”

That’s an honest declaration? “I’m not laughing,” she says, keeping a very straight face.

Renee is an upbeat, resilient character. But she’s also a realist. She worries about an acting future in Scotland.

“Companies like Fire Exit have hired me, but they’ve lost funding.

“And Tron director Andy Arnold has been fantastic. In fact, he was the first person to give me a chance, when I was still at the RSAMD.

“Yet, there aren’t that many parts in plays in Scotland for black, African women. People are scared to take a chance.”

Surely she can play Scots? Her CV lists a range of accents, including real toughies such as South African and Australian.

“My Scottish accent isn’t great,” she admits, smiling.

“I listen to people in the restaurant and try to copy them but it’s tough.”

Right now however, she’s loving the chance to reveal Victoria’s secrets to the world.

“It’s a perfect play for Glasgow,” she maintains. “The characters have a lower-to-middle class lifestyle – except my own – and they live in an inner city clump.”

She adds; “What this play is really about is adults who have to decide to become adults. It’s about moving forward. It’s about growing up.”

Has the American actress reached that point in her own life?

“I’m still growing up,” she says grinning, and then switches into New York character mode.

“But if you print that I’ll hunt you down and kill you.”

• The Mother****** With The Hat, The Tron Theatre, until March 17.