Wilf - a new play by James Ley - to receive world premiere in December

News 2 Nov 2021

Following its popular reading as part of TravFest21, the Traverse today announces the world premiere of Wilf, an hilarious and heartfelt new play by James Ley, in Traverse 1 from Wed 8 – Fri 24 Dec.

Directed by the Traverse’s Artistic Director, Gareth Nicholls (Ulster American, Crocodile Fever), the cast includes Michael Dylan as Calvin, Irene Allan as Thelma and Neil John Gibson in a very wide range of parts.

Completing the creative team are Becky Minto as Set and Costume Designer, Renny Roberson as Lighting Designer, Susan Bear as Sound Designer, Sophie Ferguson as Costume Supervisor, EJ Boyle as Choreographer and Eleanor White as Dramaturg, with Yvonne Buskie as CSM and Gillian Richards as DSM.

About the play

Calvin is going to completely revolutionise his life. Escape his abusive boyfriend, detonate his inner sex bomb, see (and shag) the world. Yes, he’s going to change things, and everything will be wonderful, and he’s going to be so happy. Definitely. Finally. Right?

After a mere 104 driving lessons with Thelma, his beleaguered instructor and a lapsed psychotherapist (who knows far more about Calvin and his kinks than she ever wanted to), Calvin has finally passed his test on the 12th attempt, and there’s officially no stopping him.

Now he’s found his partner in crime - the Cagney to his Lacey, the Celine Dion to his…Celine Dion - in the form of Wilf, a rusty Volkswagen Polo which, like Calvin, has seen better days. Together they hit the road on a wild and bumpy ride of dodgy Airbnbs, greasy takeaways, anonymous graveyard sex and banging 80s power ballads - ending up somewhere they never imagined they’d go.

But is Calvin breaking free, breaking down, or just breakdancing in hot pants?

This riotous and heartfelt new play from James Ley (Love Song to Lavender Menace), directed by the Traverse’s Artistic Director Gareth Nicholls (Ulster American, Crocodile Fever), takes audiences on a hilarious and unapologetic ride through Scotland as Calvin and Wilf attempt to escape loneliness, cope with mental illness and learn to love themselves, with the help of one another.

James Ley, writer, said:

"It’s long been my dream to have a play on at the Traverse, a theatre that has been monumental in my journey as a playwright and place of queer solidarity and liberation since I went to my first Traverse Festival as a teenager. I’m extremely excited that my Traverse premiere is Wilf and to be working with Gareth and this fantastic cast and creative team. I hope that audiences enjoy the crazy journey we’re going to take them on. There’s a huge part of the protagonist Calvin in me as I think there is in all of us, and I hope that as he confronts his encyclopaedia of personal problems with unnerving honesty the audience will get behind him and root for him to find the happiness, stability and love that he needs, and that we all need. Most importantly with Wilf, I want to say that, even if your life is going to shit, putting on hot pants and dancing will always make you feel at least 100% better.”

Gareth Nicholls, director, said:

“We are incredibly excited to bring James’ heartfelt and hilarious story to the stage after its audience pleasing reading as part of TravFest21. It offers something truly unique at this time of year – it’s spiky, cheeky, funny and moving in ways you might not expect. At its heart, it’s about how we can recover from loneliness, rediscover ourselves after a traumatic event, and how love can come in many forms – all of which feel very relevant to where we’re all at just now. We can’t wait to be back in a rehearsal room, and to share the warmth and laughter with audiences in December. We hope you’ll join us on what’s bound to be a wild ride!”

COVID-19 safety

At the current time we are adhering to 1m social distancing for all in-person events. Traverse 1 continues to offer allocated seating with audiences able to book specific seats in bubbles of 1 or 2 seats. Audiences will be required to wear masks whilst in the Traverse and throughout in-person performances, unless medically exempt.

The Traverse Bar will now be open from one hour before performance times.

Full COVID-19 safety procedures will be in place across all sites, which will be shared with bookers before their visit, and our current procedures can be viewed at any time on the How We’re Keeping You Safe section of our website. Refunds will be available to those who need to cancel their bookings for Covid related reasons.

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