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Saturday, 16 September 2017


In theatrical circles, both professional and amateur, the term tour de force has become so over used that it barely carries any value.
Over the years it has been with the kindest of intentions falsely attached to everything from Christmas nativity shows starring less than precocious four year olds to the efforts of village hall pensioners revisiting the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.
And as this is most definitely the case it could be easy to dismiss those who are claiming Pylon to be a tour de force as simply reaching for a stock phrase to bandy about.

That would however be a mistake, a large and unforgivable mistake, because 'Pylon' is, to use another well worn phrase, the real deal.

It is theatre that drags the audience in to entertain and inform in equal measure. From passion to professionalism it not only delivers, but punches above its weight class from curtain rise to curtain fall.
It is raw imagination given wings and allowed to lay claim to the sky.  

In casting aside any limitations that could casually be attached to what could be described as amateur dramatics, the performance delivered ultimately leaves glass at the feet of all involved as they smash through a perceived ceiling and arrive in the midst of the professionals who call the arts their stock in trade.

In so many ways the success Pylon has already enjoyed should not be possible.
Considering that it is a theatrical writing debut, and that it is being performed by a cast of local artists; better known for their musical endeavours, then the lack of experience should scream that it will fail, but failure has very obviously never been considered.
Instead this is a production that carries itself with the swagger of having been penned by a well established playwright, and performed by a cast of experienced actors. That in itself is not just impressive, but something that at times is difficult to actually comprehend.
It could be argued that Pylon has no right to be as good as it is, and yet if it was to be placed toe to toe with anything playing in the bigger cities then it would more than hold its own.

Centred around the cancer scare in the nineties that was attributed to electricity pylons weaving their way through the housing scheme of Shortlees in Kilmarnock, the story is gut wrenching in its emotional range, but also laced with enough kitchen sink humour that the darkest moments can be met with a smile.
Reminiscent of a certain type of working class theatre that thumbed its nose at what had come before it is a production that embodies the spirit of the now legendary 7:84 theatre company and its offshoot Wildcat, and it is entirely possible that this play will be seen as the genesis of yet another wave of socially conscious theatre coming our way.

But only if it is seen, and championed by, a wider audience.

And therein lies a problem. That being in how all the funding applications to take Pylon on tour have thus far been unsuccessful.
This rejection must feel like a body blow to those involved, but they should consider what they have already achieved against all the odds, and then take from that the belief that when the curtain went down on the most recent performance that it was only the end to one chapter of this story.

It really shouldn't need to be said, but theatres across Scotland should be looking to support initiatives such as this, and it seems obvious that the Citizens Theatre of Glasgow is the natural home for Pylon.
And maybe it will be.

Who knows.

Watch out for an interview with the people behind Pylon coming soon.

In the interim go and buy a CD direct from the Pylon team from their facebook page.

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