This Is Memorial Device – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

Based on the book by: David Keenan

Music: Stephen McRobbie & Gavin Thomson

Adaptation & Direction: Graham Eatough

It beggars belief that, not even in a moment of hubris, could author David Keenan think that his 2017 novel This Is Memorial Device would become a cult classic and achieve urban legend status. So cleverly has Keenan sewn the seeds of truth throughout the work that much of its readership believes that it’s real.

The story of an Airdrie post-punk band in the early 80s has spawned its own band merchandise, a social media presence with tens of thousands of followers, countless Spotify playlists and now, a documentary style stage adaptation by Graham Eatough.

The novel features a series of ‘interviews’ with the great and the good of the Coatbridge and Airdrie music scene. Eatough’s adaptation remains faithful to its source. Comprising a tour de force central performance by Paul Higgins as one-time local fanzine editor, now local news journalist Ross Raymond with music and short filmed interviews with followers portrayed by Julie Wilson Nimmo, Sanjeev Kohli, Mary Gapinski and Gabriel Quigley.

It all feels like a fan convention, a fanatical collective getting together to share our memories of the now-legendary band. It feels as if we have found our tribe. It’s raw and intense, Keenan’s original work showed the fire of the young inhabitants of a mundane, working class Lanarkshire town. Harking back to a time now lost – a time when blazing originality, ambition, hope, drive and dreams might propel you to fame and fortune in the music industry. A time when getting a big break didn’t depend on a throw-away TV talent show.

Played out on Anna Orton’s cluttered set, strewn with Raymond’s obsessively collected memorabilia, Higgins fourth wall-breaking performance is sublime, perfectly nuanced, so utterly, utterly believable.

As Memorial Device’s music is described – it’s like a clap of thunder, this time on the theatre scene. Every music lover has experienced that one band who changed our lives, who held our obsession, and This is Memorial Device speaks to all of us who have ever felt that. It is almost evangelical, a bit hippy-trippy – a revival meeting for music addicts.

A powerful work and a perfect reflection of a moment in time, a place and a feeling that would be wonderful to experience again.

Runs until 30 March 2024 | Image: Contributed

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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