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Edinburgh International Festival 2023


National Theatre of Scotland

Genre: Drama, Theatre

Venue: Traverse Theatre


Low Down

Glasgow-based writer, actor and movement specialist Nat McCleary joins forces with director and performer Johnny McKnight to create this uniquely Scottish play.


Thrown is a new play by Glasgow based writer Nat McCleary, directed by Johnny McKnight, presented at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. A cast of five bring to life a group of women vying for the chance to play at the most important sports event in Scotland. The sport in question is backhold wrestling, which is a genre of Scottish folk wresting where participants hold each other in a specific grip around the waist at the back and then try to pull each other apart – with the goal to stay gripped – for the win.

Set in a gym, the clever high bars and six red chairs upstage and the large square training space of the stage becomes more than this, with flashing lights and excitement from the beginning! The five women are played by Efè Agwele, Maureen Carr, Lesley Hart, Chloe-Ann Tylor, Adiza Shardow, and they are each different, both in their hopes and experience but also in their dreams.

Wearing a combination of capes, lycra and sports gear they each tell their stories about themselves and chat together as they workout, after training and sports events. They talk about their identity and where they fit in society. A main focus, given that their sport is Scottish and the play is set in Scotland is whether they are or feel Scottish. This is fascinating and adds another layer to the topics that come to the forefront of these characters lives as a result of their conversations of body image, socio economic means and race.

They practice lifts and other moves and even have a tug of war! Ever active, the cast is agile and organic in the physical action and ever changing scenes with different stories and conversations, which transition seamlessly. A highlight is watching the women as they develop their friendships and recognise their common interests. They learn from each other about acceptance – and being open to exploring more about their identity and sense of belonging, which is fascinating, provocative and relatable.

If you are looking for a new play about friendship, acceptance, identity and about being Scottish then this is a very good choice. Well acted and directed, the story of the play deals with current issues in an intense,entertaining and vibrant performance.