Edinburgh Fringe 2014
David Hayman on a lonely stage takes us through the loneliness of the long winded trade unionist struggling to accept an honour whilst his class is divided
Bob Cunningham, trade union stalwart and the son of a working class local hero has been awarded an OBE. He stands in his local hall about to thank his comrades for their support in their struggle that has seen him being honoured. It is an honour shared, an honour collectively fought for and he stands alongside his comrades to declare it is better thegither. During his rehearsal and in reflective mood he captures himself talking with his 17 year old past self, struggles to explain himself to his dead wife and father before he is introduced to the throng. It is then he throws off the shackles of the honour and seeks to be positive and progressive for him and his class’s sake.
This is a very clever pro independence one man show. It is, however haunted by more than the presence of a naïve activist. Chris Dolan has managed to capture just what the Socialist movement should be debating. How is it that a progressive movement is now talking of conserving a tradition? The shadows of the radical politics of the past are now haunting Bob Cunningham but should they not also be haunting the debate?
A committed fighter for social justice, it was always going to be David Hayman that would bring such gravitas, faith and belief to this part. It is not enough to say that Hayman is a force of nature. He commands the stage and requests understanding. It makes you alive to the nuances when he starts to talk to himself and give that other self a presence in a chair next to him on the stage.
The stage is perfectly poised as some form of TV studio or as a top table for a ceremony. It gives Hayman areas to direct himself and us into as well as to ensure that you consider the wider implications of his quandaries.
By not attacking the whole debate as some kind of polemic with which you can argue, by making it personal and by making it an issue with which many socialists in Scotland are wrestling this manages to talk referendum but not mention it much.
The performance was about ¾ full and whilst respectful there was more than an inkling that we had a mixed crowd. Some would be there because it was Hayman and some because it was a YES platform. All enjoyed the performance and there was certainly the feeling that conversion was in the air. (Perhaps a wee invite to Argyll and Bute would be a step forward…)
But to suggest that this was an advert, some form of theatrical and political broadcast would be to misjudge what happened within it. The question still to be answered for many socialists is how to vote for a Conservative ideal. Through the lens of Tony Blair many see disillusionment but struggle to abandon the party of their youth and their parents’ youth. Such a theatrical event shows maturity and no matter what the decision is in September, we should be all the better for having the debate.