The Scotsman Sessions #19: Amanda Wright and Louise Ludgate
Welcome to The Scotsman Sessions. With the performing arts world shutting down for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on scotsman.com, with introductions from our critics. Here, Amanda Wright and Louise Ludgate perform extracts from their Fringe First-winning show, Enough, by leading Scottish playwright Stef Smith.
Toni and Jane are colleagues. For 15 years or more, they’ve been flight attendants for the same major airline, flying the world together, and getting drunk together in cities from Berlin to Bangkok. Toni is single, and involved with a man who is not good for her. Jane is older, married with kids, the proud owner of a lovely suburban home; but still, she has sorrows to drown, during layovers in anonymous hotels the world over. And in Stef Smith’s 2019 play Enough, an acclaimed Fringe First winner at the Traverse during last year’s Edinburgh Festival, we meet these two women at a point of crisis that is not only theirs, as they maintain surface appearances - and the life of a flight attendant is all about that image of glamour and reassurance, with a faint hint of sex - while each is privately haunted by images of destruction: a falling plane, a collapsing house, a way of life hurtling towards catastrophe.
The last few years have been hugely successful ones for young Glasgow-based playwright Stef Smith, who over the past decade has won global recognition as the writer of fierce, moody and thoughtful studies of 21st century life ranging from Cora Bissett’s groundbreaking site-specific work about people-trafficking, Roadkill, through Swallow and Girl In The Machine at the Traverse, to Nora, her recent hugely successful re-working of Ibsen’s Doll’s House, presented by the Citizens’ Theatre at the Tramway, and then transferred to the Young Vic in London.
When the world’s airline industry shuddered to a halt at the beginning of lockdown, though, it was Toni and Jane, with their growing sense of the absolute fragility of their world, who immediately returned to haunt the mind. In this powerful extract - directed for Scotsman Sessions by the show’s original director Bryony Shanahan, of the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and given its own sound design by the show’s composer Alexandra Faye Braithwaite - you can see and hear the different levels of exchange between Toni and Jane that made up the powerful, poetic texture of the show. Sometimes they chat like ordinary colleagues shooting the breeze. Sometimes, in a different sound-state, they are haunted by their own nightmares. And sometimes they narrate each other’s lives in the third person, watching from a distance as the other’s gradual disintegration mirrors their own unease.
The two actors involved - Amanda Wright, well known for appearances on Casualty and Doctors, as well as for her stage work at Shakespeare’s Globe and elsewhere, and Louise Ludgate, an essential figure in Scottish theatre ever since the early days of Suspect Culture - are both outstanding theatre artists in their own right; and together, they bring us to the heart of one of the most powerful pieces of new writing premiered in Scotland last year.
The Enough company are donating their fee for this Scotsman Session to Scottish Women’s Aid