With a drum-roll and a muted roar of virtual applause, the Scotsman Sessions this week introduce our first brand-new play, written in lockdown. Hazards is a new work by acclaimed Glasgow writer and actress Meghan Tyler; and here she performs it alongside Olivier Award-nominated actress Amy Lennox, currently in lockdown in London, whose credits include starring as Elly in David Bowie and Enda Walsh’s Lazarus, directed by Ivo Van Hove, and playing Pocahontas in Ramona Tells Jim at the Bush Theatre, in Scottish Actor and writer Sophie Wu’s debut play.
Lennox grew up in Aberdeen, won her performing spurs with Aberdeen Youth Music Theatre, and after appearances in panto at His Majesty’s Theatre and training in Guildford, went on over the last dozen years to play major stage musical roles in London and on tour across the UK. These have included Liesel in The Sound of Music, Elle in Legally Blonde, the Dolly Parton role of Doralee in 9 To 5, and an Olvier Award nomination-winning performance as Lauren in the musical Kinky Boots. She currently plays passionate young doctor Chloe Godard in the BBC drama Holby City.
Tyler grew up in Newry in Northern Ireland, and settled in Glasgow after training at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Her chosen discipline was acting, and at the RCS in 2014 she joined playwright and performer Isobel McArthur and director Paul Brotherston in forming Blood Of The Young, the brilliant young Glasgow-based theatre company responsible for shows including Daphne Oram’s Wonderful World Of Sound (2017) and, in the summer of 2018, their smash hit Pride And Prejudice* (*Sort Of), which premiered at the Tron, went on to tour the UK in 2019, and made its final triumphant Scottish appearance at the Lyceum in January 2020, a few weeks before lockdown.
Meghan Tyler played the heroine Elizabeth Bennett in that remarkable show; but in the intervening years, her own creative life had taken an unexpected turn, as she found herself scribbling down lines of dialogue while she worked, and rapidly emerged not only as an outstanding actress, but also as one of Scotland’s leading young playwrights. In 2018, her play Persians appeared at A Play, A Pie And A Pint, featuring a Tory minister intent on reintroducing capital punishment, trying to negotiate support from SNP and DUP MP's at Westminster; Tyler herself played the DUP representative, a Doc Martens-wearing young LGBT activist.
Then in August 2019, her full-length play Crocodile Fever, about two Belfast sisters and their disabled father living out the legacy of the Troubles in memorably surreal style, became one of the centrepieces of the Traverse’s Edinburgh Festival programme, projecting Tyler’s playwriting career onto an international stage. She is currently writing a new play for “the burning present” based on Strindberg’s Dream Play, and leading playwriting workshops as part of the Traverse Theatre’s online programme.
In this video, though, edited by Conor Reilly, we see Tyler and Lennox grappling with the minor but infuriating woes of trying to carry on with professional theatre work under lockdown conditions. Saz and Nell are theatre company workers trying to carry out a risk assessment for an online read-through they are organising; and as they try to evaluate the relative likelihood and seriousness of hazards including spilling hot drinks, tripping over tangled cables in cramped home offices, and dealing with interruptions from children, postmen and cats, all the stresses and tensions of their relationship begin to surface, with an added twist of lockdown paranoia.
Like all Tyler’s work, Hazards has a tremendous earthy and satirical energy, along with a streak of pure surrealism. And it’s a joy to see two brilliant young theatre-makers bringing this brief lockdown satire to such intense on-screen life – both longing to be on a real stage again, no doubt, but nonetheless pouring all their formidable performing energy into the camera for us, in this lockdown moment.
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