TWO of Scotland‘s best-loved performers are to star in a “story of love, laughter and the untold legacy of Glasgow‘s shipyards”.

Only An Excuse actor Jonathan Watson and Still Game’s Maureen Carr are husband Jack and wife Beanie in Fibres, a Stellar Quines and Citizens Theatre co-production set to tour community halls in Glasgow and south-west Scotland.

Their marriage is tested when they discover Jack’s dusty overalls are to blame for the former shipyard worker’s asbestosis – and Beanie is affected too.

As Frances Poet’s play addresses, illness relating to asbestos is not something confined to the past. As 2018 UK Government figures show, the number of deaths related to the material were around 5000, compared to 1770 reported road fatalities. It was only banned in 1999.

“It’s not banned in America, it’s not banned in Russia or China or India,” Poet says. “My geriatric doctor friend says deaths haven’t even peaked yet, that it might be as long as 2040 before they do.”

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Earlier this year, Poet was awarded the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Play for Gut, a taut thriller exploring a subject rarely seen on stage: who we trust to care for our children.

The National:

Family is also central to Fibres, with Poet hearing how asbestos-related illness had affected a woman she met at her daughter’s music class.

“After weeks of getting on very well, she told me she had lost her parents six months apart,” she says. “Her father had a three-day apprenticeship on a ship where asbestos was falling like snow. Forty years later it cost him his life. And it cost her mother her life because she had washed his overalls.”

The Glasgow-based playwright says she was “fascinated by the marriage angle” and how the fallout from parental relationships can affect the next generation.

With support from the charity Action On Asbestos, Fibres sees the pair’s daughter Lucy (Suzanne Magowan) struggle to open her heart to Pete (Ali Craig).

Though Watson and Carr are best known for comedic roles, it’s the younger characters who get most laughs.

“On a broader level, Fibres is about what committing to another person means,” says Poet. “It explores that from two angles, with Jack and Beanie and also with the daughter and Pete in this romcom strand.

“I wanted to look at how we are scarred by what we see in our parents’ marriages while also finding hope and humour – that’s played brilliantly by Suzanne and Ali.”

She adds: “If you have a connection to the material, it will be painful but hopefully cathartic, because we can hold the anger you are feeling. If you don’t have a connection, it will make you feel angry and hold that for others.”

October 17 and 18, Barrowfield Community Centre; Oct 19, Cove Burgh Hall, Helensburgh; Oct 22, Paisley Arts Centre; Oct 24, The Pearce Institute, Govan; Oct 25, Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock; Oct 26, St Francis Community Centre, Glasgow; Oct 27, Barmulloch Community Centre; Oct 29 and 30, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh; Oct 31, Barlanark Community Centre; November 1, Dunoon Burgh Hall; Nov 2, The Whiteinch Centre, Glasgow. Book via or Action on Asbestos’s free advice line: 0800 089 1717.