Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Love Letters to the Public Transport System" - March 2011

Molly Taylor's re-telling of her quest to thank a number of train and bus drivers who got her to the right place at the right time, combined with the public transport related stories of others, is a delightful piece of theatre. The peg on which the concept hangs may be a little shaky - one of the central tales only really involves a coincidental meeting on a bus - but the beauty here is in the telling. It's a long time since I've seen a performer in the Citizens Circle Studio hold an audience's attention the way Taylor did.

Despite that, its charm and confessional quality did leave me with a nagging doubt - and revealed a difference in attitude between Waldorf and I towards theatre of this kind. Large parts of the play are presented as autobiographical, and while I was happy to take things at face value I couldn't help doubt the spark of inspiration for the piece. The Molly Taylor we met last night - or at least her stage persona - just didn't strike me as 'cooky' enough to start shooting off letters to anonymous public transport employees. Unless of course the idea of creating a piece of theatre based on it was there from the very beginning. Such premeditation wouldn't invalidate what followed, but for me it would somehow take a layer of sheen off of it.

Unusually, Waldorf was more sceptical than I, questioning not just the motivation but to what extent the events presented were based in reality - so far as to doubt if any letters were actually sent (even though the replies appeared to be produced on stage). And interestingly, that wouldn't matter to her at all. It didn't need to be real - none of it.

Fortunately we can both agree that regardless of what level of dramatic license she has employed, Taylor is a wonderful storyteller who is equally at home making an audience laugh as tugging their heartstrings.

Love Letters to the Public Transport System is presented as a work in progress as part of the National Theatre of Scotland's Reveal season. It has concluded its runs at the Traverse and the Citizens.
Image by Drew Farrell used with permission

2 Heckles

Anonymous said...

Just to confirm the validity of Molly's stories - not only were all of the tales (and the letter sending) 100% genuine, but I was sat next to Gavin and Margaret - two of the heroes of the piece. The show itself, I thought, was wonderful.

Statler said...

Thanks for the info - it doesn't matter to Waldorf but I'm happier knowing it's not a work of fiction. Although, I'm still not entirely convinced that the idea for the show didn't predate the sending of the letters.