Hi De Hi! star Su Pollard to reprise smash hit Fringe role at Musselburgh's Brunton Theatre for one night only
SHE’S a National treasure and long been one of our funniest ladies, but there’s another chance to see the serious side of actress Su Pollard when she brings here smash hit Fringe show Harpy to Musselburgh in March.
The Hi-De-Hi! and You Rang M’Lord? star will reprise her role in Harpy by award-winning playwright Philip Meeks at the Brunton Theatre on 20 March.
Following her successful Fringe debut in 2018, this one-woman show presents a grittier side to the Pollard of TV fame, in a heart wrenching exploration of mental illness and loneliness among the elderly. Best known for her star-turn as Peggy in Hi-de-Hi!, Pollard’s career in showbusiness now spans four decades.
Harpy, a play originally commissioned for her, now under new direction by Abigail Anderson, has been described as a tour-de-force as Pollard explores one woman’s struggles with mental health and loneliness, which manifests itself through extreme hoarding.
At heart it’s a bittersweet dramatic comedy, which asks us to look beyond our prejudices against those who appear to disrupt the norm. The neighbours call Birdie a harridan and a harpy even though most of them have never even met her. They see her obsessive hoarding as detrimental to the value of their own homes.
For Birdie, saving what others regard as the junk from her own life allows her to make sense of the world around her; her possessions are memories of a time past. Shunned by conventional society, she regards it as her duty to salvage these tiny histories that without her would be entirely forgotten.
Harpy is inspired by the retro cinematic sub-genre of Grand Dame Guignol – or ‘hag horror’ - wherein fading stars battled to survive by playing mad, potentially dangerous women or bewildered creatures in peril. Beneath their acting veneer were brave and brilliant women and playwright Meeks is fascinated by their survival instincts.
He explains, “This idea of struggling and fighting for what we believe in comes to the fore in Harpy which seeks to explore mental health, questioning what madness really is.”
Pollard adds, “I am thrilled to be able to bring Harpy to a wider audience across the UK, having first performed it at the Edinburgh Festival in 2018. I hope the new audiences enjoy themselves as much as I’m enjoying revisiting this complex character. Philip Meeks’ writing is both funny and poignant, and many people have remarked at how relatable the content is, openly tackling issues of mental health.”
This revival comes at a time when social isolation among the elderly is being recognised as a serious issue, having a significant impact on their well-being. Recent statistics from Age UK have shown that 1.9 million elderly people feel alone or invisible, due to a lack of companionship, relationships, or the basic human need for conversation.
Harpy, The Brunton, Musselburgh, 20 March, 7.30pm, £18-£20, 0131-665-2240