A stage will become a prison with only the characters locked inside as Bench Theatre puts on Rona Munro’s Iron at The Spring, Havant, from tonight until Saturday.
The Havant-based amateur dramatics company returns to the stage with the psychological drama written by the Scottish writer.
It begins with the first visit by 25-year-old Josie to her mother Fay, who is 15 years into life imprisonment for killing her husband and Josie’s father.
It’s a murder the daughter cannot remember and the mother wants to forget, but uncovering the memories they both share proves more dangerous than they could ever have imagined.
Directed by Sharon Morris, the production features Sally Hartley as Fay and Beth Evans as Josie. Sharon has decided not to keep the Scottish accents for the play, which has been performed in many countries since its premiere in Edinburgh in 2002.
She says: ‘It doesn’t need to be Scottish and worked well in Belfast with Northern Island accents. Also, I wanted to avoid any “och aye the noo” echoes.’
The director plans to heighten the effect of claustrophobia by using lighting to focus on small areas of the stage for some scenes, notably that with Fay and Josie. Sharon explains: ‘It’s a mother-daughter relationship like no other. Josie has no memories of her childhood, and she seeks out her mother because she needs those memories – but the mother wants to live her life through Josie and seeks to manipulate her.’
Sally Hartley, who plays Fay, says the company had been conscious of avoiding prisoner clichés, so she tries to think of her character as a person who happens to be in prison, rather than simply as a murderer: ‘Her behaviour is erratic and impulsive.
‘She can go from a standing start to a screaming banshee in a second.’
For Beth Evans, who graduated from the University of Portsmouth in 2008, playing Josie represents a change in her other appearances with Bench Theatre, notably as a schoolgirl in Daisy Pulls It Off and Princess Puddle in Aladdin.
Beth says: ‘This is very emotionally wrought. But I used to do these kinds of plays at university – plays by Edward Bond, Sarah Kane and Mark Ravenhill. They were challenging, exploring edgy characters, and this is quite dark, right up my street.’
Roger Wallsgrove and Helen Young complete the cast as prison officers.
Tickets cost £6 to £8 from The Spring, Havant, on (023) 9247 2700 or go to thespring.co.uk.