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Insightful monologue; A Coventry playwright talks to CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR about her homecoming.

Byline: CATHERINE VONLEDEBUR

AWARD-winning Coventry playwright Marcia Layne is returning to her roots with Bag Lady, a new play about homelessness, mental health and domestic violence which plays the Belgrade Theatre tomorrow.

An insightful and funny multilayered monologue, it tells the story of Eve - a homeless woman and survivor. The piece explores racial discrimination and cultural identity.

It is the first time one of Marcia's plays has been performed at the theatre and it will be the final show of a UK tour which began in 2013.

The writer, who grew up in Wood End and Foleshill, where her mum Jenny still lives, said: "I'm very excited that Bag Lady will be finishing its tour at the beautiful Belgrade Theatre in my home town of Coventry.

"I wanted to look at what happens when an assertive black woman self-censors her emotions - and the negative impact it can have on mental health.

"We've had four-star reviews and really positive feedback. People have found it powerful and thought-provoking. It's an important human story dealing with serious issues but is also very funny.

"It's a thrill to know my old school friends will finally be able to see my work. My mum, who has lived here for almost 60 years, is absolutely over-themoon.

For years she's been asking, 'When are you going to have a play at the Belgrade?' "She is a DJ on Hillz FM and so I've had a few shout-outs. It's a big highlight for me to come home - and it's actually my birthday on the same day."

Actor Flo Wilson, who plays Eve, has appeared in TV dramas including BBC1's In the Club, Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat, Coronation Street, Fat Friends, A Touch of Frost, Scott and Bailey and Shameless.

Marcia said: "Flo is incredible and she's had such well-deserved praise." Marcia began writing short stories when she was a pupil at Eburne Primary School in Wood End.

She said: "It was at Eburne School I first dreamed of being a writer, when my work was read out in assembly.

"My dreams continued at Woodway Park despite my careers officer telling me I'd need to get a proper job."

Marcia now jointly runs the Yorkshire-based theatre company, Hidden Gems productions, with director Amanda Huxtable. They aim to bring rarely told black British stories to the stage. Previous tours include Lost and Found and Somebody's Son.

Marcia has just written A Cut Above, an episode about female genital mutilation for the Radio 4 afternoon Stone detective drama series starring Hugo Speer, to be recorded in March. She is also in the early stages of developing a play about civil rights activists' Malcolm X and Trinidad-born journalist Claudia Jones - marking the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X's assassination.

? Bag Lady will play at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre tomorrow at 2.45pm and 8pm. Ring 024 7655 3055 or go to www.belgrade.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Flo Wilson as Eve in Bag Lady and, left, Marcia Layne

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 27, 2015
Words:495
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