Blythe on wrong side of law for Borders role

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A BORDERS theatre company have pulled off a major coup by recruiting Taggart actress Blythe Duff to lead its latest production.

Duff stars in Iron, Rona Munro’s powerful psychological drama, staged at the Heart of Hawick and Wynd Theatre in Melrose by Firebrand.

She plays Fay, a woman imprisoned for the murder of her husband, who meets her daughter for the first time in 15 years.

Speaking between rehearsals in Hawick, Duff told TheSouthern: “I was introduced to the Firebrand project by Richard Baron (Iron’s director) when he invited me down to Melrose last November, on a beautiful day, which was a cunning move as it the sold the idea of coming to the Borders.

“It seemed to me when I was involved in theatre previously that there was a lot more touring of the Borders by theatre companies than there is now. So this was a chance to establish something down here.

“I have been fortunate to perform recently in productions by Scottish writers such as Andrew O’Hagan and David Harrower, but never on a piece by Rona Munro. So, I felt Iron was another chance to work with a strong Scottish writer.

“Iron has been performed internationally but was last seen in the UK 10 years ago, which I felt was another good reason to get involved.”

Discussing the character of Fay, who stands on the other side of the thin blue line from her best known role as detective inspector Jackie Reid, Duff says: “She is an incredible, in control yet volatile person.

“She is quite a chameleon and has some very unusual traits, as you would imagine from someone who has never had a relative visit them in prison for 15 years. She is also comfortable in jail, so I had to get my head around all of these aspects.”

Firebrand’s artistic directors Ellie Zeegen and Janet Coulson are delighted to have secured Duff in the lead role.

The duo said: “Our casting of Blythe underlines our aim to make theatre of the highest quality here in the Borders and it’s being made possible by the support we’ve had from our audiences, by the new financial assistance we’ve been awarded by Creative Scotland in recognition of our efforts, and especially, the invaluable help from Susan Taylor and the team at Heart of Hawick, who are co-producing Iron with us.”

The Scottish cast features Crawford Logan, well-known to Borders audiences for his memorable performance as Sir Walter Scott in Rowan Tree’s The Ragged Lion.

Others include Claire Dargo, recently nominated for her second consecutive Stage Best Actress award and Irene Allan, fresh from her role as the botanist Elizabeth Blackwell in The Chelsea Belladonna, which concluded its national tour last month at Kailzie Gardens, Peebles.

Richard Baron added: “It is a deeply moving, thrilling and thought-provoking story requiring a brave and highly accomplished actress to play the mother Fay.”

Iron will hold a preview night on Wednesday, October 31, at the Heart of Hawick, with further performances on November 1 and 2. Tickets can be bought from 01450 360688.

The production will then travel to the Wynd, Melrose, on Monday, November 12 and Tuesday, November 13, with tickets available from 01750 725480 or visit www.borderevents.com