Review - Iron: far from innocent

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Firebrand’s sold-out production of Iron is an emotive insight into the rebuilding of a relationship between Fay, on life sentence for the murder of her husband, and her daughter Josie, whom she last met 15 years ago.

Sprinkled with gallows humour, colourful language, and, once or twice, explicit imagery, it is not a tale for the innocent.

A simple, low-tech set and surrounding leaves much to the collective imagination of the audience, which is fed the mind and colourful past of lead character, Fay (Blythe Duff). The simplicity of the stage is offset by a clever use of light and few props, and the experience of the intimate audience – so close to the stage and, at a number of points, surrounded by prison wardens and brought even further ‘in’ to the production – is enriched by the emotive and passionate relaying of Fay’s vivid recollections of the lead-up to her crime.

Judging by this performance, Duff could tell the story in a solo performance and still absorb the audience to a man; the script alone is sufficiently compelling to create a meaty, rivetting story.

The attempted reconstruction of Fay’s relationship with daughter Josie is a joy to behold, with turns of emotion – born of Fay’s wariness of Josie’s motives and an insecurity developed from a decade-and-a-half behind bars – constantly threatening to jeopardise their fragile, precarious bond.

Correlating with the mother-daughter development is the firey relationship between wardens and prisoner, which offers a fascinating suggestion of social interaction between a fiesty female on life sentence and her guardians. Fay’s skipping emotions and surge of feeling adds a welcome unpredictability to the dynamic of a gritty and rewarding production.

Iron is showing at Heart of Hawick tonight (Thursday) and tomorrow, with tickets sold out.