Bonnyrigg playwright takes Heroin to Hero story to the Fringe stage in one man play
A Bonnyrigg playwright and actor has taken to the stage the amazing story of a former Edinburgh drug addict who beat his addiction and ended up as a soldier guarding the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
His novel, Heroin to Hero, has now been turned into a one-man play by former Lasswade Leisure Centre lifegaurd Tony McGeever, who hopes Paul’s story will inspire his audience on its Fringe run.
Tony, who now lives in London, explained how he got involved with Paul’s incredible story.
He said: “It was just by chance. I was doing a short film up in Edinburgh and in between takes everyone said I have got to play this guy in a Hollywood film, as we are both from the Edinburgh area and both Hibs fans. And I had played nothing but soldiers in my career as I’m military trained.
"I went home that day to my parent’s home in Lasswade and a podcast popped up on Facebook telling Paul’s life story.
"I couldn’t believe it, so I had to buy his book and read his story. Then I just wanted to help this guy get his story out to people and help addicts get off their medication, for them to see that you can go on to do great things.
"It was a light bulb moment reading the book. His book is written in such a theatrical way, perfect for a play.
"If we can help save one life then it’s all been worth it.”
Paul faced a long struggle to beat his addiction, suffering 13 relapses before the positive thinking course by Lou Tice changed his life.
Tony added: "The reason it’s a one man show is that Paul himself is a one man show. He does it all on his own. I play everyone in his life, 17 different characters.
"The response has been fantastic. Everyone is saying it’s really good. Paul is delighted.
"We want to take the play around schools and prisons, to share Paul’s story.
"It's more than a play now. It’s basically now about trying to get to the Scottish Government, to encourage them to get on board with the course Paul did, to offer it to just one city, to see what happens.”
Having seen the impact drugs have had on Scottish communities, and all across the UK, Tony recognised that Paul’s story – and the man himself – could offer a way forward.
He said: "Scotland has the worst drugs death rate in Europe, it’s a pandemic. So we are trying to change the stigma around addiction. We need to tackle why people are there in the first place.
"It could be something really small to start with, but once that blows up this grey cloud is over people.”
Lt Col. Hugo Clark, chief engagement, British Army in Scotland said: “We’re thrilled to be able to support Tony’s retelling of Paul’s extraordinary story. Paul’s experience really shows how the Army can recognise quality and draw out potential in young people, while being pragmatic about their background.
“Heroin to Hero is a story of resilience and fortitude in the most challenging circumstances and we’re delighted to be working with Paul, whose sense of service continues today with his work to help veterans and those with problematic substance abuse.”
From Heroin to Hero, [email protected], Hepburn House, East Claremont Street (Venue 358) 7.15pm, August 5-7, 9-14, 16-21 and 23-28.
Ticket prices: £14 and £10 concessions. Advisory: Age 14+. Box office: www.armyatthefringe.org/theatre.