Working Legs: a play for people without them by Alasdair Gray

Dog And Bone, 1997, 134p

Working Legs cover

Gray wrote Working Legs at the request of Birds Of Paradise a Glasgow-based theatre company which stages plays using physically disabled actors.

It is set in a society where to be in a wheelchair is the norm and those who can stand and walk are unusual and frowned upon. The plot concerns the trials and tribulations of Able McMann, who is hypermanic and cannot stop himself using his legs. This is a kind of inversion typical of SF (to which Gray is, of course, no stranger) and while the play is somewhat programmatic at times it does highlight issues surrounding society’s treatment of those who are different while incidentally satirising Thatcherite politics of swingeing cuts (now a timely concern again) and the machinations and manipulations of the tabloid press. The resolution could be sentimental were it not undercut by the reappearance of a minor character, but it does round things off satisfactorily.

The book is also copiously illustrated with Gray’s unmistakable idiosyncratic art work.

I don’t usually read plays and bought this only as a Gray completist. I did enjoy it, though.

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