This is Memorial Device, Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
This is Memorial  Device - © Mihaela Bodlovic
Show details
Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh
Graham Eatough (director / adapter from the novel by David Keenan), Anna Orton (set and costume designer), Stephen Pastel (music), Gavin Thomson (sound designer / music), Nigel Edwards (lighting designer), Martin Clark (video designer), Kally Lloyd-Jones (movement director), Zephyr Liddell (associate designer), Neil Murray and Callum Smith (producers).
Paul Higgins (Ross Raymond). [Filmed performances – Julie Wilson Nimmo (Andrea Anderson), Mary Gapiski (Miriam McCluskie), Sanjeev Kohli (David Kilpatrick), Gabriel Quiqley (Monica Lawson). Audio performance – Martin Quinn (Big Patty)].
Running time

We are invited to commemorate and celebrate the 40th anniversary of a special transformative night where everything came together, a gig by Memorial Device, the greatest band from Airdrie who defined an era and changed, or deformed, Ross Raymond’s life.

They were like nothing else, they resonated of Airdrie, “which is to say they sounded like a black fucking hole”.  Loved and hated, they were expected to go the whole way, vindicate Airdrie, valorise Coatbridge, memorialise Greengairs.

This was 1983, 1984 and 1985, the glory years where anything seemed possible. Everybody was reading, listening, writing, creating, putting up posters, and rehearsing, rehearsing in dark windowless rooms at 2pm.  But it was all over by ’86 and Ross, unable to put it out of his mind, has been capturing a ghost of a feeling, fanatically collecting fanzines, memorabilia, and interviews. 

Central to this ritual act of forgetting and remembering is the band’s lead singer Lucas Black, who has no memory, or very little, hidden, occluded, swept away everyday like splinters of a ship in a storm. He journals his own life, writing himself into existence every morning and always feeling his way into a new role, perpetually original and never rote. 

The story is told in an often mesmerising performance by Higgins, sharing the feeling of the time with an enthusiastic sense of wonder and messianic zeal.  The sensation of the gig is played out as he places mannequins and props around the stage, all intersected by video of grainy greyscale images of the scenes and murmurations of starlings.  Undercutting his dark and often witty poetic musings and recollections are believable talking heads interviews which add credibility to the wild tale, bridging between documentary and the source book’s subtitle, “An Hallucinated Oral History of the Post-Punk Scene in Airdrie, Coatbridge and Environs, 1978‑1986”.

Part gig, séance and rumination on memory and experience, it’s an innovative work on the power of books, music and theatre and being in the room, living in the moment and beyond the mundane. 

These bootlegged memories have no neatly tied up ending, just a moment passing, but it’s a trip.


Show Times: 3 to 6 April 2024 at 7.30pm.  Matinee 6 April at 2pm.

Tour continues - 

Lemon Tree, Aberdeen - 18-20 April

Riverside Studios, London - 23 April - 11 May


Tickets£20 (£16).  Other concessions available.


Suitability: 14yrs+ age recommendation (contains strong language).