Two Doors Down star Elaine C Smith returns to Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum company after 19 years

RAB C NESBIT and Two Doors Down favourite Elaine C Smith is set to return to the Edinburgh stage in a new adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's political comedy Mr Puntila and His Man Matti.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 4:55 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 5:20 pm
Elaine C Smith and Steven McNicoll

Reworked as Mrs Puntila and Her Man Matti by award-winning novelist and playwright Denise Mina, the piece which originally featured a male lead, tells the uproarious story of Argyll landowner Mrs Puntila who, when drunk, is a generous and kind-hearted boss who convinces everyone they can have a bright future under her wing.

When sober, she’s a cruel and greedy tyrant. Behind the scenes, her shrewd chauffeur Matti irons out her drunken mishaps while pursuing a hopeless romance with her already-spoken-for daughter Eva, a match which will only be possible if Mrs Puntila can get over the class divide.

Playing that role of Mrs Puntila, Smith, one of Scotland’s most loved and recognised performers, returns to the Lyceum company for the first time since playing Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls there in 2001.

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The production also reunites her with Mina after the pair worked together on the play Ida Tamson. Mina says, “Elaine is such a great performer, and she also invites an audience who might be wary of Brecht, because whilst he’s not always done to be funny and entertaining, with Elaine they know they’ll enjoy it.

"We want it to be really, really funny. We want people to leave feeling uplifted and angry and motivated to stand up for each other. In the original, Brecht says ‘never accept your rights as charity’, and that’s pretty much the theme of it.”

Smith and Mina, arguably two of the most influential women in their respective fields, will work alongside creatives from DOT Theatre Istanbul who previously worked with the Lyceum on the production Rhinoceros.

The new adaptation of Brecht’s epic comedy satirises the injustices and absurdities of capitalism and promises a hilarious and thought-provoking night of theatre that pulls no punches - the perfect antidote to today’s gloomy political climate.  

Smith, who returns to her political theatre roots in the play will be joined in the other title role by Steven McNicoll in the Lyceum and Citizens Theatre co-production, which will open on 28 February and run until 21 March.

The cast is completed by Natalie Arle-Toyne, Rebecca Banatvala, Richard Conlon, Beth Marshall, Joanne McGuinness and Chloe-Ann Tylor, Stephanie Payne, Liam King and members of the Lyceum Youth Theatre.

Mrs Puntila and Her Man Matti, Royal Lyceum, Grindlay Street, 28 February-21 March, £10-£33, https://lyceum.org.uk/whats-on/production/mrs-puntila-and-her-man-matti