Men – especially working class men from the West of Scotland – are not known for expressing their emotions, instead hiding behind either brutish silence or dry humour. Davie is very much in the latter camp, even taking supposed insults as compliments. Jamie, however, has reached a point where he needs some time away from all the false banter in order to think things through. The top of a 100 feet water tower, however, doesn’t provide the isolation Jamie hopes for, as a nervous and concerned Davie is soon clambering up after him.
Anne Hogg’s debut script is certainly an engaging two-hander, full of wry humour and heart, showing a good ear for what’s said and – more importantly not said – between men.
Set in 1987, Davie and Jamie are part of an ill-fated “work in”by staff of the Caterpillar factory in Uddingston which –despite being a profitable, going concern – has been unexpectedly earmarked for closure by its new American owners.
For the characters, this seems like the end of the world: Davie accepts that, being in his 50s, he’s unlikely to work again, and faces the horrendous prospect of spending the rest of his life with his wife, Jessie. Jamie, meantime, fears a community robbed of its meaning, the closure having consequences for the whole local economy. “Bookies and pubs will be all that’s left,”he cries, angry and frustrated at decisions made by distant Americans and just as remote politicians.
The pair, though, are more than just fellow workers; Jamie calls Davie “Uncle” although, as events on the water tower progress, some doubts are left in the audience’s mind concerning their exact biological connection. It takes a while, but Jamie eventually admits his big problem. Despite having grown up with – and being effectively engaged to – local girl Linda, a recent one-night stand in Aberdeen has left the girl, Janice, pregnant and determined to keep the baby. Jamie knows whatever choice he makes – to stay home or to move up north to a new life with his redundancy money – will hurt people he cares about. It’s left to Davie – who admits to also “straying”from the marital bed in the past – to somehow help Jamie come to a decision.
David Thomson's lighting of Patrick McGurn’s simple set, allied with Andy Cowan’s scene-setting sound design, is unobtrusive, ensuring the focus remains on director Stasi Scheffer’s choice of actors. Paul James Corrigan(Jamie) and Frank Gallagher(Davie) are both regular cast members of BBC Scotland soap River City; their comfort in each other’s presence certainly contributes to a genuine sense of life-long relationships and love.
Anne Hogg’s debut script is certainly an engaging two-hander, full of wry humour and heart, showing a good ear for what’s said and – more importantly not said – between men. Admittedly, it’s final point – that the closure of the factory is a potential new start rather than just an end – is somewhat trite, not least with Davie making too strong a play for “an analogy” concerning the titular butterfly. Overall, though, here is a writer’s whose work will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.