Fulfilling its Promise with critical acclaim

FOLLOWING its rave reviews on opening at the Tron, Promises Promises can be seen at Cumbernauld Theatre this week.

Written by Douglas Maxwell, staged by Random Accomplice and starring Joanna Tope, this one-woman show focuses on the cynical Maggie Brodie.

A retired teacher, Maggie has been reluctantly dragged back to her local primary school for supply work.

At the school she meets Rosie, a six year old Somali girl who refuses to speak.

Her community leaders believe she is possessed and in need of 'treatment', but Maggie knows they are very, very wrong,

Douglas Maxwell explains how this play came about: "I was in the pub with some pals arguing about a documentary which had just been on Channel 4.

"John Snow had presented the programme which coyly argued that some immigrants are more beneficial to the UK than others. In the end there was a list, with Indians at the top and Somalis at the bottom.

"There was a teacher at the table who told us a story about a recent personal experience with a Somali child in a school in London.

"It was a harrowing story and my jaw dropped. I could not believe that any school in Britain would sleepwalk into that situation in the name of, I suppose, cultural fairness."

Stunned by the story he had just stumbled across, Maxwell decided to retell it in the form of a play. The next step was to create the protagonist.

"I decided I would write up the teacher's story, without notes or preparation and see what happened. For the story to exist at all I knew it couldn't be a young teacher who would flow along and recover, and I knew it couldn't be a great, powerful teacher who would nip the whole thing in the bud right from the start. So I thought of an older teacher who is also, somehow, fundamentally, powerless."

The play rapidly took form. It would be a monologue, Maxwell's preferred form of drama. As fate would have it he was struggling with a commission for Random Accomplice at the time and apologetically sent them Promises Promises as a sort of "consolation prize" after deciding to abandon that project. Despite being very different from the usual Random Accomplice output, the company loved the play and opted to take it on tour.

The show made its debut on February 3, to critical acclaim. Joyce McMillan, reviewing for The Scotsman, gave it five stars and called it "a 90 minute text of such sustained brilliance … that it sometimes threatens to take the breath away."

See it at 8pm in Cumbernauld Theatre on Friday, February 12. Tickets are 9/8 and available on 01236 732887.