When WeWere Young

Kelly Craig

Since the pandemic, it has been encouraging to see the rise in the number of Scottish plays treading the boards across the country, and with the burgeoning film industry in Scotland showcasing some exciting new productions, creativity has never been more important. Our home-grown talent is going from strength to strength and our theatres are filling their programmes with productions from Scottish writers.
A celebration of working class life in the west coast and a tribute to the culture that we are so familiar with, is what inspires the work of bright young theatre company, Geez A Break Productions. Playwright Liam Lambie’s ingenuity has been showcased in Scottish theatres for many years now. He doesn’t shy away from bringing the toughest of issues to life on stage and it’s the honesty in his work that has the audience captivated. His portrayal of backstreet abortionist Mamie is 1950s Scotland was an emotional tribute to many women who found themselves in a difficult situation. On Any Given Night explores the tragedy of homelessness and Ower the Tap is a depiction of life in the trenches during WW1.
“I don’t push an agenda,” says Liam, “I let the storyline speak for itself.”
His latest production, When We Were Young certainly speaks to a variety of audiences. The play looks at the violent ‘young team’ culture existing in our towns and cities, a culture that has cut across generations. Set in the 90s, it tackles the trials and tragedies of the Mooney family as the boys and their friends navigate gang life in Govan and it explores the worrying and sometimes devastating impact that this can have on a family. It is character driven and while the storyline tackles sensitive issues like knife crime and addiction – with razor sharp dialogue and the right mix of humour – Liam delves into the vulnerability behind the façade of the gang members, showing the person behind the hard man.
“It was important to look past the tabloid stereotype of the ned,” he says. “Neds are not just characters, but people. In some cases, it’s impossible to avoid becoming part of a young team, it’s a natural path to take.”
Each of the characters shows a person underneath the mask and the narrative is driven by each of their own back stories. Although it’s set in the 90s, it’s still as relevant now.
“The same problems still exist,” Liam tells me with passion, “but it’s worse because of social media, and so it was the right time to tell this story.”
After great success in the spring, the company is about to embark on a second run of the play. This time round it opens in the Pavilion. Liam doesn’t underestimate the importance of their Pavilion debut but at the same time understands the poignancy of bringing new audience members to the theatre.
“There was a lot of people in our audience on the first run that hadn’t been to the theatre before because the story resonates with so many people. Everybody knows somebody who has been in a young team or on the periphery of it.”
When We Were Young opens at the Pavilion on 17th October. Ayrshire audiences can catch it at the Harbour Arts Centre on 19th October.