This Is Memorial Device: David Keenan's portrait of post-punk Airdrie's music scene comes to Tron Theatre

Tron Theatre includes innovative and exciting productions in the launch of its Spring/Summer 2024 season with two Scottish premieres alongside a powerful visiting company programme.
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A highlight will be Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh’s Fringe First-winning This Is Memorial Device (Thu 28 – Sat 30 March), based on David Keenan’s gloriously hallucinatory cult novel about Airdrie music scene’s mysterious post-punk band from the 1980s.

Joyce McMillan, reviewing for The Scotsman, said of the Edinburgh Fringe production: "There are many shows about fandom on this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; the bands, films and franchises that, since the 1960s, have provided generations of young people with way-marks, and a sense of shared identity, in an increasingly confusing and media-driven world.

"There’s none more poignant, though – or more significant in the cultural landscape of Scotland – than This is Memorial Device, Graham Eatough’s new stage version of the 2017 novel by David Keenan about “the greatest band that never existed”, an imaginary punk-art combo from Airdrie in Lanarkshire who, for three brief years in the early 1980s, light up the local landscape with their wild indie experimentalism, and even make brief forays to Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, before crashing and burning in classic rock-icon style.

"On a stage cluttered with memorabilia kept for decades in his basement, Paul Higgins plays music writer Ross Raymond, who grew up in Airdrie alongside the members of Memorial Device, and remains obsessed with their brief moment of counter-cultural glory. He tells the story of a band whose journey began when their lead guitarist, Big Patty, saw a tower-block being demolished, and decided that in future, his music would sound like a building falling, or nothing; and with the help of some fragmented shop-window dummies – who feature extensively in the story – constructs for us the three core members of the band, Big Patty in his shades and battered top hat, quiet Richard the drummer, and Lucas, the brain-injured genius, poet and lyricist, who needs his own “memorial device”, in the shape of a notebook, to remember what he did yesterday."

The play is rooted in an era "when Scottish working-class artists had both the means and the motive to commune with the greatest minds of the 20th century underground and avant-garde, and to create their own counter-culture, on the streets where they grew up."

Elsewhere on the roster, the National Theatre of Scotland will present the world premiere of Maggie & Me (Wed 8 – Sat 11 May), James Ley’s brand-new adaptation of the Damian Barr memoir of the same name - a story set in the shadow of the Ravenscraig Steelworks, of growing up gay in a straight world.

Sligo’s Blue Raincoat Theatre Company are back for the first time since 2019 to close out the main house programme with their brand-new production, The Last Pearl (Thu 30 May – Sat 1 June), the story of a woman and her daughter as they scavenge and explore a dying world in the aftermath of a typhoon, based loosely on the ideas of the environmentalist James Lovelock.

Tron Associate Director Joanna Bowman will stage the Scottish premieres of Caryl Churchill’s ‘revolutionary’ Escaped Alone (Thu 22 February – Sat 9 March 2024) where the blissful domesticity of a garden get-together is punctured by a brutal commentary on catastrophic climate change; and Johnny McKnight will direct Philip Ridley’s Radiant Vermin, (Thu 27 June – Sat 13 July 2024; Press Performance: Friday 28 June, 7.30pm), a dark and wickedly comic satire about a young couple offered a way out of the housing crisis, and just how far they are prepared to go to secure their dream home.

Tickets for the full Spring-Summer 2024 season are now on-sale with all performances available to book online at tron.co.uk , by telephone on 0141 552 4267 or in person at our Box Office.