Playwright brings asbestos tragedy to the world of theatre

A new production from Scottish female-led theatre company Stellar Quines and the Citizens’ Theatre has been winning rave reviews from audiences and critics alike.

The play in question, Fibres, is the work of Glasgow-based playwright Frances Poet, and is presently touring Scottish venues, concluding at the city’s Whiteinch Centre on 2nd November.

Fibres began its run on the country’s theatre stages on 17th October, and documents the story of Clyde shipyard worker Jack and his wife, Beanie, who is nursing him through asbestosis. Their marriage is severely put to the test when they find out that the dusty overalls Jack brought home to be washed by Beanie, also poisoned her.

Poet said she was inspired to write a play about asbestos by an encounter after her daughter’s music class with a woman who told her, over coffee, that she had recently lost both of her parents to mesothelioma, just six months apart.

While the play shows the energy and humour that Jack and Beanie bring to this toughest of challenges, Poet has also said it contains “a lot of anger”, observing: “The first report linking asbestos exposure to lung disease was published as early as 1898; yet for a century after that, companies went on using it in the construction trades.

“In making the story into a play, though, I really felt the need to make it something more than an angry rant; I wanted to write a real human story, with love and laughter as well as tragedy – a story audiences would want to engage with.”

The cast, meanwhile, is something of a dream one, featuring Jonathan Watson (Only An Excuse, Two Doors Down) as Jack and Maureen Carr (Still Game) as Beanie, ably supported by Suzanne Magowan and Ali Craig.

The play is also backed by the asbestos charity Action on Asbestos.

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