Leddy’s Bordello Edinburgh Bound

Dec 3 2017 | By More

David Leddy’s “biggest ever” show to play Traverse

Fire Exit, the company run by innovative Glasgow theatre maker David Leddy, has announced dates for its biggest production to date, The Last Bordello, which will play the Traverse in February 2018.

The play’s themes focus on sexual abuse, writer and director Leddy told Æ. A co-production with the Tron, it will open in Glasgow on February 13 and arrive at the Traverse for four nights from Wednesday 21 February 2018.

The Last Bordello Publicity image: Tommy Ga ken Wan

It is set inside the last bordello left in the middle of a brutal war zone, where the atmosphere is like an X-rated mad hatter’s tea party. The Madame refuses to serve Mitri unless he joins in the surreal parlour games the prostitutes are playing. Reckless with lust, he agrees. They immediately lock the doors…

Described as “an absurd, sensual and provocative parable about trust and truth, domination and devotion, fact and fiction”, the play will star David Rankine as Mitri, the sweet young terrorist who must lose his virginity tonight, with Irene Allan as the imperious, neurotic Madame.

Leddy says the show will be the biggest he has ever made. The creative team will be Leddy’s regular collaborators: stage designer Becky Minto, sound designer Danny Krass and lighting designer Nich Smith.

David Leddy told Æ: “It has taken over a decade to bring it to the stage. Along the way I’ve done development work in France, in Glasgow and at New York Theatre Workshop. I’ve been lucky enough to work with legendary people like Anne Bogart in New York and Neil Bartlett in London.”

a bizarre, disquieting collection

The bordello’s inhabitants also include a bizarre, disquieting collection of sex workers and their sly and manipulative charwoman Irma, played by Vari Sylvester.

There’s the pregnant Virtue (Apphia Campbell) who believes she might be Professor Angela Davis; a sugary sweet schoolgirl (Helen McAlpine) who believes she can resell her virginity night after night; and a beguiling feminine sailor (Matthew McVarish) who carries his heavy old typewriter down to the docks at midnight and hammers out dirty stories in between servicing clients.

David Leddy. Photo: Dermot Fitzsimons

Such characters will be not unexpected to those who have followed Leddy’s work over the years with his shows such as Coriolanus Vanishes, International Waters, Susurrus, Long Live The Little Knife and Sub Rosa.

As always with Leddy, The Last Bordello promises elements of the exotic amidst a wide range of influences and political provocation. Here there is a Latin mass – peppered with the secret gay slang language Polari, there, there is the fetishisation of sexual abuse and references to the most notorious red light district of all time – Barcelona’s Barrio Chino in the 1930s.

Leddy said: “My plays are always about moral ambiguity. They’re about speaking the unspeakable. I make shows about the things that frighten me and find myself writing about the abuse of power again and again because it disturbs me so much.”

His themes might appear to be tuned specifically to contemporary events, but are actually indicative of Leddy’s ongoing concerns – even if he is happy to see the serendipity.

“This play particularly focuses on sexual abuse,” he adds. “So, even though the themes are timeless and the play has been years in gestation, it seems like 2018 will be the perfect time for it because all the issues within the play are suddenly in the news. It will be fascinating to premiere it while the abuse scandals of Weinstein, Spacey, Trump and all the many others are fresh in the audience’s mind.”

Listings and Links

The Last Bordello
Tron Theatre, 63 Trongate, Glasgow, G1 5HB. Phone booking: 0141 552 4267.
Saturday 10 (preview), Tuesday 13 – Saturday 17 February 2018
Evenings: 7.45pm. (Q&A Thurs 15).
Tickets and details: www.tron.co.uk

The Last Bordello
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED. Phone booking: 0131 228 1404
Wednesday 21 – Saturday 24 February 2018.
Evenings: 7.30pm (Q&A Thurs 22)
Traverse website: https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/
(Tickets not yet on sale).

Fire Exit website: www.davidleddy.com
Facebook: @fire.exit
Twitter: @FireExitCo.


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