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EDINBURGH 2016: BWW Q&A - Downs With Love

BWW speaks to artistic director Suzanne Lofthus about the Cutting Edge Theatre production Downs With Love which is heading to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year.

Tell us a bit about Downs With Love.

The play is based on an idea I had about 30 years ago for a play based around a young girl with Downs who falls for a pub singer but never did anything with the idea. Cutting Edge Theatre started a programme called Inspire a few years ago which is a programme using Drama to help people who have additional support needs gain confidence, boost self-esteem and improve their vocal abilities. We have a young adult programme in Fife and Abi Brydon is on that programme. She is a young girl whose aim is to be an actor, she's very confident and able so we decided to work with her on the play.

We have been working with Abi, taking the concept and then using improvisation to create the play. We have also worked with Abi to get some of her real life experiences around the issue of living with Downs. That's been invaluable and given us a true insight.

The play is about Elizabeth who lives very independently but has help from a support worker. Tracy is the new worker and they soon become friends. Mark is a young guy trying to make his way as a singer. Elizabeth has a crush on him but when he meets Tracy, the two of them fall for each other. Betrayal, love and friendship clash with all of them being challenged along the way.

What was the inspiration for Downs With Love?

My sister used to work with young people who have additional support needs and I was producing a pantomime to which we invited the young people to. When I saw their affection and love of theatre, I wondered about creating a play about that but never had the cast to work with. It's only when I met Abi at Inspire and we were looking to see how we would advance Inspire this year that I decided to rework the play.

Do you think you know what to expect from the Fringe?

Yes, my company has produced a number of Fringe shows. It will be the first time for Abi and that will be both scary and exciting for her.

Who would you recommend your show to?

Anyone - it's a family show.

What other shows are you hoping to catch at this years festival?

I run a small venue so don't get much opportunity to see other shows but am looking forward very much to seeing the shows on at the venue including "Once upon a..." which is an interactive kids show. They are fabulous and highly recommended. We are premiering a new musical "Carnegie" by Ian Hammond Brown who wrote the sellout production of "Whisky Galore - a musical!". Also very excited to have a number of West End Musical Theatre performers in a week long concert called "West End has Faith".

Dates and ticket information for Downs With Love can be found on the edfringe website.

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