Scarlet Carnage

May 15 2016 | By More

Well REaD at the Roxy

It’s ginger or bust at the Assembly Roxy this week, where Glasgow-based multi-genre company, tidy carnage, arrive for one night of their subversive redhead cabaret REaD.

REaD envisages a dystopian parallel world, where redheads are strictly segregated from the rest of humanity and live under curfew.

Linda Duncan McLaughlin, Sarah McCardie and Belle Jones. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Linda Duncan McLaughlin, Sarah McCardie and Belle Jones. Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

In such a place, redheaded performers are reviled outcasts from society, forced to work underground where they create secret cabarets and performance spaces for true believers.

The play began life in 2014 when tidy carnage’s artistic director Allie Butler thought to create a show about being a curly-haired redhead after worked with flame-haired actress Helen Cuinn.

Butler invited the distinctly ginger-tinged wordsmith and spoken-word specialist Kevin P Gilday to work with the words, while she and copper-topped actresses Linda McLaughlin, Trish Mullin, Sarah McCardie and Belle Jones put together the performance.

A week of development saw the pre-Raphaelite women exchanging anecdotes and comparing stories about their personal experiences as redheads, culminating in a Scratch performance at the Arches.

comically bizarre reactions

According to tidy carnage: “These real-life tales ranged from the hilarious to the heartbreaking: victimisation and prejudice juxtaposed with comically bizarre reactions to red pubic hair. Kevin then used these accounts as stimulus for a series of poems which he created specifically for the project.”

Two years down the line, including a  further development at the Tron’s Mayfesto in 2015, and tidy carnage are out on the road with a six date Scottish tour. Having kicked off with an auspicious (or not) opening on Friday 13th a the Greanock Beacon, the show arrives at the Roxy on Tuesday 17.

“Our show takes place in the Scarlet Church Cabaret,” Allie Butler told Æ. “It is a celebration of difference and individuality in the face of persecution.

“REaD is a devised piece of work which borrows from all sorts of traditions – from vaudeville, to Hollywood musicals, to performance poetry.”

Staged as a cabaret within a play, the production swings through redhead history from pre-Raphaelite exotica to social exclusion and popular culture. It’s performed by Belle Jones, Sarah McCardie (who is also musical director) and Linda McLaughlin under Butler’s direction.

“Setting it outwith our existing reality has allowed us a freedom to explore creative genres,” Butler adds. “It’s been a delight to work on and will be a really fun evening for our audiences to enjoy.

“We look forward to welcoming you all to the Scarlet Church!”


Assembly Roxy, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH 9SU.
Tuesday 17 May 2016
Evening: 8pm
Tickets from:

REaD on tour May 2016:
Tue 17 May Edinburgh
Assembly Roxy
0131 510 5511 Book online
Wed 18 May Inverness
Eden Courth
01463 234 234 Book online
Thurs 19 May Glasgow
0141 552 8378 Book online
Fri 20 May St.Andrews
The Byre Theatre
01334 475000 Book online
Sat 21 May Aberdeen
The Lemon Tree
01224 641122 Book online


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