Brunton Steamie

Mar 27 2015 | By More

Quirky Pond stir Corelli

It takes a lot to shake Andy Corelli. He’s the kind of theatre director who likes to shake it up himself, finding the unusual in a story, the unexpected in a play and capturing that in a production.

So it must have been something very special to bring out a “mix of blind fear and nervous excitement” when Quirky Pond asked him to helm their latest show, which opens at the Brunton tonight (Friday) for two nights.

Quirky Pond's The Steamie

Quirky Pond’s The Steamie

The irony is that it was neither the outrageous nor the twisted that caught him up. But Tony Roper’s The Steamie, one of the most popular plays in Scoltand. And one to which audiences return time and again.

And he admits that this production is not just the first time he has directed the play, but that when he got the call, it was the first time he had seen or read the script.

“I was aware it was Scotland’s second most popular play,” he told Æ. “So there was a healthy mix of blind fear and nervous excitement when Yvonne [Quirky Pond’s producer] asked if I’d be interested in directing it. I must admit I was slightly apprehensive about working with a text that was heavily in the Scots dialect, but the beauty and the humour of the characters and the stories they told won me over.”

How then, is he going to find the unusal in the story of Doreen, Magrit, Dolly and Mrs Culfeathers as they nip down the Steamie late on Hogmanay afternoon, for one last wash before the end of the year?

“Whatever over-inflated ideas I’d had at the start to put my own stamp on the play and make something original and different were quickly laid to rest,” he admits. If, for no other reason, than the discovery that the show was selling out, fast, even as rehearsals had just started.

Honest portrayal

“This is a much loved play,” he continues. “Audiences have taken it to their heart and rightly so. It may sound pretentious, but I knew I had a duty to present an honest portrayal of the play. That said, there are moments we have all played a part in adding to the production which I hope audiences will enjoy. The company is called Quirky Pond after all!”

Indeed, this is true. It would a brave – and foolhardy – director who messed too much with the succession of shaggy dog stories, idle gossip and tart remarks which draw out, with such depth and perception, a fragment of Glasgow life on the cusp between post war austerity and the white heat of modernity.

“I think the quality of the writing does most of the work for you,” Corelli adds. “I’m also immensely lucky to have a wonderful cast who bring tremendous energy and insight to their roles. I don’t need to do that much with such a combination; I can just sit back and let the story unfold with all its pathos and humour.”

So how do you ensure that the humour and comedy of the play is allowed to shine through?

“The key is to let the characters be truthful and natural and not to play for laughs,” Corelli says. “The laughs will then flow from that.

“It is incredible, though, that even after a long rehearsal period there are still things in the script we are finding – and I’m sure long after too. The mark of quality indeed.”

Quirky Pond’s cast for The Steamie is:
Doreen – Yvonne Paterson
Magrit – Deborah Anderson
Dolly – Kirsten McLelland
Mrs Culfeathers – Alice Rhind
Andy – Adrian Macdonald


The Steamie
The Brunton, Ladywell Way, Musselburgh EH21 6AA.
Friday 27/Saturday 28 March, 2015.
Evenings: 7.30pm.
Tickets from 0131 665 2240 (returns only)


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