Maureen Beattie in Québecoise play to tour Scotland

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By Russell Bruce

It is a fascinating experience to watch a rehearsal for a play about to start touring.  Increasingly directors are prepared to open the doors on a process previously hidden from the theatre going public.

It may seem daring and potentially fraught with problems by exposing the uncompleted to view, but it is also a method of engaging, test marketing the product and audience building.

By Russell Bruce

It is a fascinating experience to watch a rehearsal for a play about to start touring.  Increasingly directors are prepared to open the doors on a process previously hidden from the theatre going public.

It may seem daring and potentially fraught with problems by exposing the uncompleted to view, but it is also a method of engaging, test marketing the product and audience building.

The cascading bubbly effervescence of Maureen Beattie lurks under the performance of her characterisation of the lead and only performer in The List.  It generates a powerful tension in a one-women play that only a consummate professional could handle.

The difficulty of adjusting to rural life sits on the surface of a myriad of underlying problems in her character’s relationships with her husband, children and the guilt she harbours for an inability to prevent the death of her friend Caroline.

There is a haunting pathos in the lines as she talks about nosey neighbours contrasted with a landscape she feels more capable of finding empathy with.  She looks out of windows to ‘dead fields’, evoking that external visage as a tormented internalisation.

She finds order in compulsive list making but it does nothing to break the cycle of boredom.  The tired eyes of her husband returning after another long day, and drive home, only add to a vacuum, but briefly broken with a shutter change in loneliness when he drives off next morning.

Temporary relief is found as she imagines herself a camel in a caravan crossing the Sahara or a tree on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées or a prostitute in high heels in Amsterdam.

Maureen Beattie projects a tension in this articulated day-dreaming fantasy moment as La Putain respectueuse in which the high heels assume a symbolic importance.  It is but one of many insightful cameos in a story of a woman on an emotional journey with multiple dimensions.

The List is a story that connects with the lives and experiences of women everywhere and throws out signals that men might just recognise.

The play is one of the legacies of a Scottish Québécois collaboration involving Stellar Quines Theatre Company based at the Traverse in Edinburgh.

Beautifully written by Québec dramatist Jennifer Tremblay and translated by Shelley Tepperman, The List is produced by Stellar Quines, directed by award winning director Muriel Romanes and performed by award winning actress Maureen Beattie.

The List opens at The Eastgate Theatre, Peebles on 28th July, Heart of Hawick on 31st July before moving on to the Edinburgh Fringe at Summerhall from 3rd to 25th August, The Byre St Andrews 30th August Cumbernauld Theatre on 31st August and Birnam Arts on 1st September.

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