Script Review: 'Any Given Day' by Linda McLean

André Agius

  • OnStage Malta Columnist

---- Book Blurb ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
‘’This is a big day for Sadie and Bill; their favorite person is coming to visit. They’ve gone to great lengths to prepare for the occasion. It’s an even bigger day for Jackie; and not one she’d anticipated. Should she make the most of it? She doesn’t know if she can any more; too many people depend on her.’’

---- Preliminaries --------------------------------------
Title – Any Given Day
Playwright – Linda McLean
Published – 2010
ISBN – 978-1-84842-093-9
Pages – 78
Cast – 3 Males, 2 Females
Setting – ‘a flat in the city, a bar’

---- Text -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I distinctly remember being intrigued by the blurb at the back of this script, while anxiously waiting in the lobby of the Traverse theatre, in Edinburgh, the same theatre this script would go on to have its premiere in. With the promise that this very script is ‘perceptive, funny and moving’ (as advertised at the back) I was sure that this was something I had to get my hands on, after reading it though I feel that these three above nouns steer readers in another direction to what this play can really offer. Split into 2 ‘plays’ (not scenes), McClean’s writing lends itself to some easy reading, flowing rapidly from one line to another, with lines being no longer than 11 words at most. This repetitive single line tit-a-tat between the characters (2 characters in each play), creates an almost breath-taking flow to the play, only to be broken up momentarily by monologues also, made up of more single lines. 

---- Characters ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Although I found all 4 characters (yes I am aware, there are 5 listed above – but one of them is a very minor character in play 1), having hints of realism throughout their lines and interactions – I do feel that they become a bit surrealist when placed within the situations they are in. With the most surrealist of moments coming in the closing of the first play (or act 1), which I must admit caught me completely off-guard and left me a bit awe-struck. All-in-all though I must complement McClean in clearly capturing her intended feeling of ‘urban isolation’ – as this theme came out strongly throughout the interactions between her characters and the scenarios they interact within. This underlying feeling within her work continually haunts the reader, even after finishing off this script.

---- Staging ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There are minimal stage directions throughout the script, although we are given the location of where both scenes are taking place. Hence it is left to the reader’s imagination to interpret and create these scenes and interactions in any way possible. For any prospective directors looking to stage this work, there is a certain creative freedom to how both scenes should look, how scenes should be staged and also how the characters should interact and look (as only ages of characters are stipulated); which is a big advantage when looking at this work. 

---- Themes ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Urban isolation     surrealism     family affairs     Guilt     Responsibility

---- Favourite lines -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
‘You like me now?
Youre all right.
You don’t like it when I don’t like you.’

---- Conclusion ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Although, I did find the text a bit daunting at times and didn’t quite captivate me fully – I do believe, though, that this text carries a large amount of potential to be turned into a verbatim-dance theatre piece (I can imagine both ‘DV8’ or ‘Frantic Assembly’ really hammering this text home); this is mostly due to the poetic nature of the lines, where action, emotions and interactions are described vividly throughout.