In Robert Forrest's Poem In October, meanwhile, the hero's familiar spirit has an instantly recognisable voice, Welsh, poetic, and relentlessly frank.
In this beautifully written lyrical monologue, our hero Walt – a retired man in poor health – finds himself haunted by the rowdy spirit of Dylan Thomas, not his favourite poet, but one whom he loved in his youth. Walt is sitting on a park bench with pills and a hip-flask of whisky, contemplating the end of life; Dylan helps him do it in style, with the right measure both of rage, and of vivid sensual memory of those intense moments that shape our lives, and that we imagine we will recall in our dying moments. In the end, Forrest's play pushes its long elegiac moment a shade too far. It has too many fine last lines; and it looks too much like a collision between Thomas and Sam Beckett, at his most dryly deathbound, to achieve much originality. But Finlay Welsh turns in a magnificent performance as the fading Walt; and if one of the tasks of middle age is to begin to reflect upon death, then this brief but beautiful play marks a classy step along the way.
Poem In October is at Oran Mor, Glasgow, until 28 March, and at the Traverse, Edinburgh, 31 March-4 April.