EDINBURGH FESTIVAL '98: Despite having written it I can't remember the cues

Festival Diary
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THE FIRST Thursday night of the Fringe, and it's the kind of night school weather I associate with the dog days of the Last Week - the time after the bank holiday when all the talent-spotters are away to London, and Edinburgh suddenly goes autumnal.

Siobhan Redmond and I, 13 August, at 9.30pm, on a dark and blustery night, are pacing the railings of Queen Street Gardens, just opposite the BBC, running through the opening lines of Perfect Days, my new play for the Traverse, which we are just about to perform live before an audience for Radio Scotland's Usual Suspects cabaret. The two-and-a-half-minutes-plus duration of Barb Marshall's - Siobhan's - opening tirade is interrupted only by the lines "Men, eh? What a total wanker", and "Mental" by Alice her friend, but tonight we don't have Alice. Anne Kidd, the actress playing her, is having her first day off for three weeks and seven banal words are hardly worth a 100-mile round trip for. So I can do them. If I can remember where exactly I have to spit out these lowly injections. Despite having written it I can't seem to remember the cues...

I have been spending as much time as possible of week one at home in Glasgow, putting the final polish to the next one. Britannia Rules, which we start rehearsing for post-Festival next Monday at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, two days after the First Night proper of Perfect Days round the corner at the Traverse. Perfect Days seems - from my point of view if not from the actors' or the director's - to be up and running already though, after four previews and an audience response beyond my wildest hopes or dreams. Gay boys in their twenties, and Americans, and wee old ladies in hats, have been coming up to us in the street and telling us they liked it. Not just 39-year-old Glaswegian women, with the ticking biological clocks.

All I really care about the reviewers is that they don't give the story away. New plays only have that one measly advantage over a Shakespeare or a Brecht.

And will my sister like it?

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