It was perhaps a variation too far to have Alasdair Gray read from his most recent play Fleck at the inaugural Scottish Royal Variety Performance (8/10/09), but it may turn out to have been the only place to have seen this work on stage anytime soon, even if it was only a taste. I understand that those involved with putting the bill together wanted to have a selection of the popular (inexplicably Daniel Bedingfield) alongside the classical (Craig Armstrong and Scottish Opera) and introduce lesser known, at least to a mainstream audience, names (Frightened Rabbit). There was also the to be expected smattering of Scottish music and comedy. Fair enough all round. But why ask Gray to perform for a few minutes from a three act play? I would think it obvious that such a brief excerpt could only lead to confusion of the audience and frustration for all those involved.
However the real travesty is that, according to the man himself, no theatre company is willing to do a production of Fleck, something I find unbelievable. Fleck is a re-imagining of Goethe’s Faust and contains Gray’s trademark wit and anger. Why would a major work by one of Scotland’s few internationally recognised and critically acclaimed modern writers be ignored in such a manner? I would have thought for the name alone some company would be willing to take a chance. It may not be considered ground breaking, but having seen large sections of the play performed by Gray and Rodge Glass I know that it is an entertaining, thoughtful and political piece that is the right side of uproarious. Surely someone will rescue this play from the bookshelves and give it its rightful place on the stage. Both Alasdair Gray and theatre goers deserve it.