Ley’s Wilf for Trav Xmas

Nov 4 2021 | By More

New play by James Ley makes Traverse Xmas debut

Wilf, a new script from Edinburgh playwright James Ley will be the Christmas offering in Traverse One this year, running for 19 performances in December 2021.

Described as “a high octane and unapologetic exploration of queer love, escaping loneliness, coping with mental illness and learning to love yourself”, Wilf hits the stage following a reading as part of this summer’s TravFest21.

Michael Dylan. Wilf promo image. Pic: Laurence Winram

Ley was a founder of Villager Pub Theatre and wrote Love Song to Lavender Menace about Edinburgh’s ground-breaking gay bookshop. The Traverse’s artistic director Gareth Nicholls will be directing, while Becky Minto will be on set and costume design duties and Susan Bear on sound design.

“It’s long been my dream to have a play on at the Traverse,” says Ley. “It’s a theatre that has been monumental in my journey as a playwright and place of queer solidarity and liberation since I went to my first Traverse festival as a teenager.”

The show stars Michael Dylan as Calvin – who is going to completely revolutionise his life: Escape his abusive boyfriend, detonate his inner sex bomb and see (and shag) the world.

everything will be wonderful

Yes, he’s going to change things. And everything will be wonderful. And he’s going to be so happy. Definitely. Finally. Right?

Irene Allan plays Thelma, Calvin’s beleaguered driving instructor and a lapsed psychotherapist. After 104 driving lessons she knows rather more about Calvin and his kinks than she ever wanted to…

But now Calvin has finally passed his test. On the 12th attempt. And he’s found his partner in crime – the Cagney to his Lacey, the Celine Dion to his…Celine Dion – in the form of Wilf, a rusty Volkswagen Polo which, like Calvin, has seen better days.

Helped along by Neil John Gibson in a very wide range of supporting roles, Calvin and Wilf hit the road on a wild and bumpy ride of dodgy Airbnbs, greasy takeaways, anonymous graveyard sex and banging 80s power ballads – ending up somewhere they never imagined they’d go.

crazy journey

Ley adds: “I hope that audiences enjoy the crazy journey we’re going to take them on. There’s a huge part of the protagonist Calvin in me as I think there is in all of us.

“I hope that as he confronts his encyclopaedia of personal problems with unnerving honesty the audience will get behind him and root for him to find the happiness, stability and love that he needs, and that we all need.”

Gareth Nicholls said of the play: “It offers something truly unique at this time of year – it’s spiky, cheeky, funny and moving in ways you might not expect.

“At its heart, it’s about how we can recover from loneliness, rediscover ourselves after a traumatic event, and how love can come in many forms – all of which feel very relevant to where we’re all at just now.”

But according to Ley, Wilf has an even more relevant message: “Most importantly with Wilf, I want to say that, even if your life is going to shit, putting on hot pants and dancing will always make you feel at least 100% better.”

At least!


Wilf by James Ley
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, Edinburgh, EH1 2E
Wed 8 – Fri 24 Dec (previews Wed 8/Thurs 9)
Evenings: 8pm;
Mats 2pm: Fri 17/Sat 18, Thurs 23/Fri 24.

Tickets and details: Book here.


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