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GOOD WITH PEOPLE is now up and running Off-Broadway and here is a gallery of production photos to prove it, taken by Carol Rosegg.

The show is directed by our Joint-AD George and stars Blythe Duff and Andrew Scott-Ramsay in roles they originally performed back in 2010 at Oran Mor, with whom we initially co-commissioned and co-produced the play.

Last summer we revived the production with the Traverse Theatre and Datum Point, with whom we’re now presenting in New York.

You can see a fuller set of photos on Flickr, here, along with shots of all our past work.

At a Lonely Hotel, Two Lives That Overlapped


At a Lonely Hotel, Two Lives That Overlapped
‘Good With People’ at 59E59 Theaters

Published: April 3, 2013

Be warned in advance that there’s no inoculation against the viral effects of “Good With People,” David Harrower’s beautiful, deceptive wisp of a play at 59E59 Theaters. Though this two-character Scottish drama, which opened on Wednesday night as part of the Brits Off Broadway series, is less than an hour long, it is likely to have an enduring and varied afterlife in the shadows of your mind.

If that makes “Good With People” sound like a ghost story, it is in a sense, though it contains no elements of the classically supernatural. It is instead a story of how people haunt their own lives, failing to be entirely present, no matter where they are. Or with whom. Mr. Harrower’s title is a dark joke of the cosmic variety, since being good with people is, by his severe but forgiving standards, an unobtainable virtue.

It feels appropriate that the only people we meet in this play, directed with light and icy fingers by George Perrin, work in what are considered people-oriented professions. Helen (Blythe Duff) runs the desk at a Scottish hotel, inaccurately named the Seaview. Evan (Andrew Scott-Ramsay) is a nurse.

He is also the only guest in the town’s only hotel when he shows up one morning, though it is high season. Helen recognizes Evan’s name, and the two come into focus for each other as hazy, vaguely hurtful figures from a mutual chapter in their pasts. Helen reminds Evan that he once knew her son, Jack Hughes. Evan mishears her, or pretends to. “J’accuse?” he answers.

Sara Krulwich/NY Times

An empty hotel by the water (a loch); a man and a woman with a shared history and some unfinished business: this is the stuff of many a familiar fictional idyll, romantic or spooky or suspenseful. Holding true to that form, the plot will lead into a cross-fire of recriminations amid a slow, steady buildup of sexual tension. But you don’t expect what happens to happen — that is, if it really does happen, which is debatable.

Seducing an audience by the slow, blurred divulgence of information is a specialty of Mr. Harrower. This was evident in his best-known work, the brilliant “Blackbird,” staged at the Manhattan Theater Club in 2007 and one of the most powerful dramas of this century. That play too was essentially a protracted dialogue between a man and a woman, who in that case turned out to have had a sexual relationship when the woman was still a girl.

The bonds that connect Helen and Evan in “Good With People” aren’t anywhere near as strong or as visceral. This allows Mr. Harrower greater latitude in considering how we connect, or fail to, with others. His canvas is surprisingly wide here, touching on bullying (both by schoolchildren and, wait for it, members of the Taliban), small-town class hierarchies, military life, the divisive existence of a nuclear base, foreign wars, one-night stands and a local wedding.

These disparate subjects come up without strain in Helen and Evan’s conversation. They all relate quite specifically to two lives that have only on occasion overlapped. But the talk subtly nudges you into thinking about the failure of most social structures and the poignant hopes for comfort and security that we pour into them.

If the dialogue is mostly naturalistic, the staging is not. Beneath the words Helen and Evan exchange, a whole other relationship is taking place.

It is given life in an extraordinary series of tableaus that find the characters suddenly illuminated, crouched fetally or reaching out or dancing together clumsily in a state of mutual surprise. These movements are both precise and hauntingly elliptical, reminiscent of the subliminal choreography of Steven Hoggett on “Black Watch“ and “Once.”

Ms. Duff and Mr. Scott-Ramsay are perfection. They expertly embody characters who are confined and isolated by class, age and gender. At the same time they seem to belong to a world of shadows, a Jungian realm conjured by the masterly lighting of Tim Deiling, the soundscape of Scott Twynholm and the set and costume design of Ben Stones, which only seem simple.

Though its length is about 55 minutes, “Good With People” leaves you feeling far from empty. For all the phantasmal effects of its staging, it is a dense work, and you may find yourself sorting through lines and images later in a way you seldom do after a more conventional full-length play.

There’s been talk of a return of interest in the short story. And I don’t think it’s just because of our much lamented shrinking attention spans. A first-class short story — especially from a master like Alice Munro or William Trevor — forces us to focus and savor in ways novels usually do not.

Surely there’s room on the stage these days for the dramatic equivalent of great short stories, for plays that make concentrated use of theatrical methods to distill ineffable thoughts and feelings. “Good With People” is short, but it’s anything but small.

Good With People

By David Harrower; directed by George Perrin; designed by Ben Stones; sound by Scott Twynholm; lighting by Tim Deiling; stage manager, Raynelle Wright; production manager, Kevin McCallum. A Traverse Theater Company and Datum Point, in association with Paines Plough, production, presented by 59E59 Theaters, Elysabeth Kleinhans, artistic director; Peter Tear, executive producer, as part of the 2013 Brits Off Broadway festival and Scotland Week. At the 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, Manhattan; (212) 279-4200; Through April 21. Running time: 55 minutes.

WITH: Blythe Duff (Helen) and Andrew Scott-Ramsay (Evan).

Link to the review on the NY Times website.

Meet the cast of GOOD WITH PEOPLE


We’re thrilled to announce that the fourth production of Programme 2013 is David Harrower’s GOOD WITH PEOPLE which opens on Wednesday 27th March at 59 East 59 Theatrers, New York.

We co-commissioned the play with Oran Mor in 2010 as part of A Play, A Pie and A Pint and toured it from Glasgow to Edinburgh, Coventry, Newcastle and Dublin.

There was such demand amongst Scottish audiences that the production was then revived in partnership with Datum Point and the Traverse, alongside THE LETTER OF LAST RESORT by David Greig, as the centre-piece of the latter’s 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Programme. A sold out run saw the critics lavish praise on both the play and our AD George’s production.

Now New York audiences will have a chance to see the show as it plays 3 1/2 weeks as part of both Brits Off Broadway and Tartan Week.

You can read all about the life of the production so far here.

To book tickets, click here.

In praise of . . . Glasgow

‘There’s been a wee boo-boo’ . . .

. . . is the phrase that will be remembered from Paines Plough’s rehearsal period in Glasgow this summer gone. Not a reference to our production of Good with People, it is instead the reaction of a pensioner in the local press talking about the North Korean Olympic flag debacle.  But rather than being a cause for continued embarrassment, we think it encapsulates our opinion of the city perfectly.

Because there has been a wee boo-boo if anyone south of the border thinks that Edinburgh is the only Scottish city worth visiting. Glasgow is the veritable arts capital of the country. It has a proud past, striking architecture and is the jumping off point for some of the most breath-taking scenery that the United Kingdom has to offer.

We’re off to the The Tron Theatre next week with London (have you booked yet?), so it’s just the right time to update our Glasgow hit list.

Oran Mor

Paines Plough knows this part of town well. We have worked on numerous of the Play, Pie and a Pint productions at Oran Mor. It’s a lunchtime thing where the main course is a hearty portion of new writing, with a side order of pie and ale all at an extremely reasonable price. We think the clue is in the name. The setting is a gutted church, and the atmosphere inside is what brings us back each time. Safe to say it is less about worship and more about revelry as the additional comedy nights, live music and unbeatable whisky selection retain the parish’s congregation. Worth mentioning also is the surrounding West End area. Set in the backdrop of Kelvingrove Park, it is home to Glasgow University and some impressive Victorian architecture.

Citizens’ Theatre

We promise to stop talking about theatre in a second (sort of). The third venue in town that is always worth a visit is the Citizens’ Theatre. They’ve recently done a co-production with Mike Bartlett on his re-write of Medea and they also hosted us on the Love, Love, Love tour. Its trademark black and bright pink interiors are all part of the fun. National Theatre of Scotland often use the space for their productions and under Dominic Hill’s artistic direction, we are always looking forward to what they come up with next.

Trongate 103

This is somewhere we are yet to visit but which comes highly recommended. Billed as an arts resource space, it is home to trendy creative organisations and has a year round gallery space. The people in charge also programme talks and readings to bring together the creative folk of Glasgow and whilst PP are there, composer Nigel Clark will be hosting one of his regular gigs with actress Judith Williams.

Arisaig restaurant

Bringing food to share with another Paines Plough staff member is a bit of a double-edged sword. Sure, you’ll be greeted with smiles and warm wishes, but you’d be fooled to think that your colleague is demonstrating a particularly spirited reaction to your presence in the office. They’re really just wondering what’s in your Tesco bag and woe-betide if it’s not at least 60% glucose based. Although not sugar, Arisaig does venison sausages and some of the snappiest seafood going. If you’re in town to watch London, try this place in Merchant City for pre or post-show dining. Just don’t go with one of us lot – blink and you’ll only have those especially bloody chunk of haggis left on your plate.


Ok, so we’re sort of back to theatre with this one. But seeing as Sarah had reputedly never gone further north than the Watford Gap before starting at Paines Plough, we’ve already booked her into this Glasgow museum. It’s theatre because the centrepiece is a black box sound and light show. Over fifteen minutes the entire history of Glasgow is projected onto the floor from an impressive looking rig to educate those new to the city, or just unaware. It also shows how the Commonwealth Games in 2014 are going to look.

The Botanic Gardens

By night, the glass domes of Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens look like giant glowing spinning tops – and if you were lucky enough to catch Three Sisters at the Young Vic you’ll know how mesmerising those can be. With walks next to the River Kelvin, the gardens are immaculate and provide a welcome break from the rumble of the city. Although not quite the Highlands, it’ll do for a few hours for script reading and switching the iphone onto flight mode.

The Tron

Last but not least is our home for the week, The Tron. It is home to the majority of Glasgow’s new writing and is one of the leading players is Scottish theatre. The week before we are there, friend of the family Blythe Duff will be giving another stalwart performance in Rona Munro’s thriller Iron, and just after us there is a Macbeth partly in Gaelic. Michael Boyd was at the helm once upon a time, and it is real pleasure to be playing the space on our London tour. We cannot wait.

Have we missed anything out? Let us know.

And have you booked your tickets yet? Do it here.

GOOD WITH PEOPLE production photos

Here’s a little gallery of GOOD WITH PEOPLE production photos. The show is playing at The Traverse in our Traverse / Datum Point co-production until 26 August as part of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. You can book tickets here, but toodle-pip, because there aren’t many left.

GOOD WITH PEOPLE is written by David Harrower, directed by our Joint AD George, and starring Blythe Duff and Richard Rankin. Production photos were shot by Robbie Jack.

You can see the whole set of photos – and hundreds of photos from our archive – over on our Flickr stream.

4 Star Reviews for GOOD WITH PEOPLE

Last week we opened David Harrower‘s GOOD WITH PEOPLE as part of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe to sell-out houses and rave reviews.

Our co-production with Datum Point and The Traverse, starring Blythe Duff and Richard Rankin, plays in Traverse 1 until 26 August. You can buy tickets here.

Here’s a quick round-up of the reviews so far…

“A shining gem in this year’s Traverse programme…a lovely, lyrical play that takes its time but earns its keep.”
★★★★ Independent

“A near mythical quality pervades George Perrin’s brooding production.”
★★★★ Herald

“Blythe Duff gives an unforgettable, haunting performance as Helen.”
★★★★ Scotsman

“A gentle, disturbing play, very well directed by George Perrin, and it leaves a mark.”

★★★★ CRITICS CHOICE Sunday Times (Paywall)
★★★★ Sunday Telegraph
★★★★ Financial Times
★★★★ List
★★★★ The Public Reviews
★★★★ Edinburgh Guide
★★★★ The Edinburgh Reporter

Have you seen the show? Give us your review by leaving a comment or tweeting us @painesplough.

Good with People rehearsal diary – Day 1

We’re not quite sure what’s going on, but something looking a lot like summer came out to greet the Paines Plough team this morning, as we made our way to Scotland’s culture capital for the first day of Good with People rehearsals.  Whether we’re actually being teased and are due a healthy lashing of Scottish rain tomorrow we’ll soon find out, but it provided a happy welcome to our current residence at The Trades House of Glasgow.

If you, like us, aren’t sure what a Trade House is, think along the lines of the guilds that used to run cities in times gone by. Tailors, blacksmiths, skinners, haberdashers – to name but a few – would gather in wood panelled halls to decide who took home what and who did business with whom. And they didn’t do this in any old room – the four of us gawped upwards at the size of the main meeting place and its crest laden walls.

Enough about the setting though – as theatre people, we know that the characters that fill it are what counts. Today we had our two actors Blythe Duff and Richard Rankin in the room together for the first time. Blythe played Helen in the first production that Paines Plough did with Oran Mór, and Richard is our new Evan.

We spent the day reading through the script as it is, then pulling it apart page by page to try and form a timeline for both characters. David Harrower’s lean, exact word choice is meant to titillate and it has already become obvious that our version of events will develop as we investigate each scene over the coming weeks.

Tomorrow we’re meeting with David himself and as well as asking him some of the questions that came up today, we’ll be looking at the place of the piece and how that changes what we do on stage.

Until then!

Countdown to Edinburgh…

Last week brought the launch of the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe programme and we were eagerly checking the post box that morning for our copy of the Fringe brochure. When it did arrive there was an instant scramble over the single copy as we all wanted to take a peek at the wealth of shows on offer this year.

And Paines Plough will be taking a show up to the Fringe this year as well – David Harrower ’s Good With People directed by Paines Plough co-artistic director George Perrin, designed by Ben Stones and starring Blythe Duff. The production will be playing at the Traverse Theatre between 4th-26th August as part of a double-bill with David Greig’s The Letter of Last Resort. The play originally started life back in 2010 as part of our A Play, A Pie and A Pint season at Òran Mór, so it is exciting to have it return. And as a play set in Scotland from a Scottish writer, Edinburgh seems its natural home.

If you are interested in seeing Good With People you can book through the Traverse website or call the box office on 0131 228 1404. And of course you can also book through the Edinburgh Fringe website.

So the countdown to the Edinburgh Fringe has finally begun – we can’t wait!

Blythe Duff shortlisted for CATS award

Blythe Duff as Jackie Reid in Taggart (photo: Edinburgh Evening News)

On Wednesday night we opened LOVE, LOVE, LOVE at The Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, and we were delighted to welcome as our guest Blythe Duff, who played Helen in last year’s GOOD WITH PEOPLE by David Harrower, and is best known for playing Jackie Reid in Taggart.

On Thursday morning, as we were thrilled to learn Blythe has been shortlisted in the Best Female Performance category of the Critics Awards For Theatre In Scotland (CATS) for Good With People.

The awards are Scotland’s most prestigious for theatre, and Blythe in shortlisted alongside Kate Dickie, Gemma McElhinney, Mercy Ojelade in her category. The winners will be announced at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, on Sunday 12 June.

Blythe and Andrew Scott-Ramsey toured Good With People to Edinburgh, Coventry, Dublin and Newcastle after the production’s premiere as part of our A Play, A Pie And A Pint season with Oran Mor in Glasgow last Autumn. Our AD George directed.

Here’s what the critics had to say:

“In George Perrin’s razor-sharp production, Blythe Duff is brilliantly deadpan as a Helensburgh hotel landlady, hilariously hidebound by petty regulations.”
★★★★ The Guardian

“Terrific short dialogue – performed with electrifying power by Blythe Duff and Andrew Scott-Ramsay.”
★★★★ The Scotsman

So congratulations Blythe! We’ll be rooting for you on 12 June.