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Woman and Boy, characters in 'Clearance' theatre play

Stories are dangerous

A country house has been sold and its furniture put on the lawn ready for collection. The only people left at the house are the janitor (a woman) and a twelve-year-old boy. But is the boy more than he seems? Is he in fact several hundred years old, and do the stories he tells actually come true? Whatever the truth he is determined to defend his home. Into this environment comes Queen, a disaffected monarch (who seems to be turning into a man), for her biannual visit. The three of them discover that stories have amazing power to heal and also to harm.

The play draws strongly upon the language, ballads and landscape of the Scottish Borders (particularly the ballad of Tam Lin.)

'Clearance' was Grid Iron's inagural production at The Traverse Theatre and went on to tour the Scottish Borders. It was directed by Ben Harrison.

The script was also produced under the title 'Audience with Queen' for the London New Plays Festival at The Riverside Studios in London. It was directed by David Prescott.

Poster for 'Clearance' Grid Iron production
Country house, setting for 'Clearance' by Anita Sullivan

Sullivan establishes herself as a strange new presence in Scottish Theatre Writing. An original talent to be watched. Scotland on Sunday. 1/12/96 Joyce McMillan

A fascinating model of a new shape for political theatre in Scotland. A multi-layered piece that applies our heritage to the contemporary state of the nation. The Herald. 28/11/96 Keith Bruce.

An impeccable display of imagination… as though Chekhov had been dragged into present-day Scotland and fused with magic-realism. The Glasgow Herald.3/5/96 Neil Cooper.

Provocative and intriguing… if you have a passion for telling or being told stories, go and see it. Herald and Post. 25/4/96

An amusing conflation of fact and fairy tale that cannily avoids whimsy. Time Out 18/9/96 Charles Godfrey Faussett.

Sullivan's script is remarkable for the way in which it disconcerts the audience… Sullivan's talent lies in pursuing the comic logic of her argument, weaving well-written original folklore into a wider meditation. The Independent 18/9/96. Leise Spencer. 

"People who tell stories are dangerous". Yes, but we can therefore also imagine new realities, and tell our tales to counter the malicious ones we are peddled. Sullivan's optimistic vision is commendable. And playwriting which so liberates our imagination is wonderful. (written for the Guardian but not published). Simon Reade

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Foxy devil in 'The Last Supper of Dr Faustus'
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