Sweetness swaps Sweden for Scotland

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A small piece of Sweden will be transported to Hawick next Saturday, March 19. Tower Mill hosts Sweetness, an adaptation of the novel Hummelhonung by top Swedish writer Torgny Lindgreen.

Translated by Tom Geddes, as Sweetness, the powerful comedy has been adapted by acclaimed Isle of Lewis poet and writer Kevin MacNeil for Dogstar Theatre’s tour of Scotland.

Among the alterations is a change of scene from northern Sweden to Northern Scotland, though both areas are described as similar landscapes.

Describing the plot, a Dogstar Theatre spokesperson said: “Two brothers, Archie and Murdo, live in the far north on opposite sides of a field.

“One brother is shrivelling away. The other is eating himself to death on a diet of macaroons dipped in jam.

“These misfit siblings haven’t spoken for years – but they do share a cat.

“Kate, a writer who has come to lecture in a nearby village, is snowed up with Archie after he puts her up for the night.

“In the days that follow, Kate is drawn in to the tissue of lies and self-deception that keep the brothers alive in a bond of mutual loathing, leading them to their fate with profound, funny and touching results.”

Kevin MacNeil‘s recently published novel, A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde (Polygon) is receiving rave reviews.

He is working on a travelogue-memoir entitled Two Wheels by the Danube, centring round his cycle trip down the Danube in 2009, which has been filmed for a documentary for the BBC.

Kevin has taken a number of national and international literary honours including the Tivoli European International Poetry Prize in 2000.

Kevin said: “I can’t remember when I last read a book that so desperately and winningly cried out to be adapted for the stage.

“Torgny Lindgren’s rich and droll and dark and life-enhancing Sweetness/Hummelhonung is one of the most wittily meaningful novels northern Europe has produced in recent times.”

Torgny Lindgren is known for writing sparse, poetic parables using the people and places of the north of Sweden.

He is widely read in Scandinavia and many of his stories have been adapted for stage and screen in his home country.

The Dogstar spokesperson added: “He has achieved international status as a writer by relaying these oral, regional tales into universal investigations into the human condition.

“Possessing elements of Franz Kafka and Harold Pinter, his style is distinctly suited to depicting the ambiguities and absurdities of the present day.

“Torgny has emerged as a forceful and prominent writer, becoming a member of the prestigious Swedish Academy, which determines the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.”

Dogstar have previous ties to Sweden, having taken the multi-award-winning The Tailor of Inverness to Umea University and the inaugural Skelleftea Storytelling Festival in northern Sweden in 2009.

“They are delighted to build on these links by producing the work of Torgny Lindgren in Scotland,” said Dogstar’s spokesperson.

“Lindgren and Kevin MacNeil are a perfect partnership, a developing writer and an established master from very similar parts of the world, both with great gifts for poetry and dark humour.”

Matthew Zajac, Dogstar’s joint artistic director, acts in and directs this production, having previously presided over Seven Ages, The Seer, ’e Polish Quine and Jacobite Country. He also wrote and performed in The Tailor of Inverness.

Music and sound are from the renowned musician Johnny Hardie, and set design is by Peggy Jones.

Sweetness starts at 7.30pm and tickets are priced at £10 (£8 concessions) – phone 01450 360688 for more information.