Scottish theatre company Cutting Edge Theatre is touring a new play this summer that sensitively explores questions of love and disability. The play’s title is Downs With Love and stars 24 year old Abigail Brydon, who has Down’s Syndrome, in the leading role.
Abi plays Beth, a young woman with Down’s Syndrome who lives a happy, independent life. Beth has her eye on Mark (Stephen Arthur) who sings in the local pub on Friday nights, but when Mark starts to fall for Beth’s support worker Tracy (Katie Milne), everything is set to get a lot more complicated.
Abi, who is studying Acting and Performance at Fife College and has appeared on stage in several local productions, said, “Beth is a bit different from me. When I change my hairstyle, I know I’m playing Beth, not being myself. I like acting a lot - my dream is to be on Coronation Street!”
Abi has been a member of the INSPIRE programme, created by Cutting Edge Theatre 5 years ago in Fife offering drama to young adults with additional support needs. The company is working towards establishing a Performing Arts Academy for this group in Scotland with satellite classes around the major cities
The play uses original music by James Siggens, with movement direction from Tony Mills, artistic director of dance company Room 2 Manoeuvre and lighting design from Andrew Wilson.
Writer and director Suzanne Lofthus worked with Abi, exploring her feelings and experiences of growing up with Down’s, to create the character of Beth and a powerful monologue written by Abi about her experiences is used in the play.
Lofthus said, “Downs With Love challenges us all to think about what we consider acceptable. Can we accept a couple, one of whom has Down’s and one does not, or would that make us feel uncomfortable?
“Abi is in a very strong position throughout the play. She doesn’t leave the stage. We’re not aiding her in any way - we’re all equals on stage. She’s an actress is her own right doing what she does, and that makes the story even more powerful.
… When I heard Abi say that her dream was to be an actress, I thought: ‘I can make that happen’. We’re delighted to be helping her to realise that dream.”
Downs With Love is on a ten-venue Scotland-wide tour, funded by a grant from the National Lottery People’s Project, after votes from the public made it one of this year’s top three projects.
Downs With Love On Tour (Edinburgh date 6 June):
Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling
Thursday 24 May, 7.30pm
www.macrobertartscentre.org, 01786 466666
East Kilbride Arts Centre
Friday 25 May, 7.30pm
www.sllcboxoffice.co.uk, 01355 261000
Gerrard Street Church, Aberdeen
Saturday 26 May, 7.30pm
www.eventbrite.co.uk, 01224 624339
The Phoenix Centre, Newton Dee, Bieldside, Aberdeen
Sunday 27 May, 7.30pm
www.neatshows.org.uk, 01224 868701
Easdale Island Community Hall, Easdale
Saturday 2 June, 8pm
Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock
Tuesday 5 June, 7.30pm
www.beaconartscentre.co.uk, 01475 723723
Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Wednesday 6 June, 7.30pm
www.assemblyroxy.com, 0131 623 3001
Theatre Royal Dumfries
Thursday 7 June, 7.30pm
www.theatreroyaldumfries.co.uk, 01387 254209
Sunday 10 June, 3pm
www.platform-online.co.uk, 0141 276 9696 (option1)
Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
Tuesday 12th June, 7.30pm
www.eden-court.co.uk, 01463 234234