Maggie and Me – National Theatre of Scotland

Maggie and Me cast

Growing up gay in the 1980s was hard enough. But throw into the mix an abusive stepfather and a poor home life and it’s a wonder Damian Barr survived at all.

But he did with aplomb and is now a successful Scottish writer, broadcaster and host. His 2013 memoir Maggie and Me has been adapted for the stage and is touring until 15th June 2024.

Centred on an older Damian (Gary Lamont) attempting to write a book about his life, the production takes you back to when he was a boy (Sam Angell) and through his traumatic childhood.

It’s not for the faint hearted and is heartbreakingly sad in many parts, but there is a good dose of humour thrown in to keep the show alive.

Along with Barr, co-writer Jame Ley and director Suba Das have worked hard to get the story across without a straight adaptation of the book.

As Damian tries to write down his life story, he is dogged by his past and so misses deadlines, calls from his agent and causes big worries for his loving husband Mike (Douglas Rankine).

The humour comes from Damian’s sub conscious in the shape of former Prime Minister, Maggie Thatcher (Beth Marshall). After all it was Thatcher who closed down Damian’s father’s (also played by Rankine) beloved Ravenscraig Steelworks and imposed the Section 28 order which prohibited the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities.

Centred around the Brighton bombings during a Conservative party conference, Thatcher wills Damian to speak about his demons and set himself free.

Maggie and Me lead actor

It’s a comic tragedy with Damian watching what has happened to him through his life, without being able to change it.

From his parents divorcing, mainly due to the mental scars of losing a baby, the show’s pace is at a gallop. With Damian seeking sanctuary in books and the school library or the Carfin Grotto, Scotland’s national shrine to the Lady of Lourdes, from the scars of moving into a new home with his mum’s latest boyfriend, to coping with the addition of close adults, the play is sad, funny and nostalgic.

As he moves through his life and begins to accept the toxic nature of being bullied at school and home, Damian’s heart begins to heal.

The 80’s set by Kenneth MacLeod is all small television screens and old fashioned furniture which adds to the story. With excellent acting from Lamont and Angell as young and old Damian to the brilliance of the ultra-funny Marshall, the show has it all.

Backed up by Nicola Jo Cully, who is particularly hilarious as mum, reminding me of the infamous Mrs Overall from Victoria Wood’s Dinner Ladies, to Grant McIntyre, Damian’s good looking and athletic first love and Joanne Thomson, the “pretend” girlfriend, the cast is strong.

Add that to a story line which is as hilarious as well as heartbreaking and Maggie and Me is both bold and necessary in a bid for a more tolerant society.

Maggie and Me by the National Theatre of Scotland tours The Lanternhouse in Cumbernauld from 23rd to 25th May before heading to Dundee and Northampton and then finally rounding off in Edinburgh from 12th to 15th June 2024. For more information, dated and times, please visit:

Author Bio:

Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.

Photographs by Mihaela Bodlovic

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