Ian Lawson was something of a late starter on the non-musical stage. He was the Judge in Trial by Jury at school and performed for three years in the Durham University Light Opera Group, but it was not until living at home and commuting to Glasgow as a trainee accountant that he was obliged to seek refuge and excitement in the heady world of village am-drams.
For seven years he appeared in a succession of light comedies and whodunnits for the Bridge of Weir Players and Kilmacolm Amateur Dramatic Society. The choice of plays may have been limited – nothing too racy and must make use of the Clubs’ French windows – but they gave him the chance to take on a wide variety of roles from silly twits to callous murderers. They also included the lead in Blythe Spirit, the Cary Grant part in Arsenic and Old Lace, the critic Moon in Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound, and the title role in Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime – an adaption of an Oscar Wilde story – which reached the finals of the Scottish SCDA three-act competition.
On moving to London in 1978, Ian auditioned for the Tower Theatre in Canonbury, which had its own little theatre and put on some 15 plays a year. But he was also lured back into the world of Gilbert & Sullivan. Over the next three years he managed to combine three appearances at the Tower – Stoppard’s Moon again, an extraordinary piece by Pirandello, and the American musical The Fantasticks – with four G&S Operas.
Moving to Edinburgh in 1981, now with a wife and four-week-old daughter, Ian restricted his thespian activities to an annual outing with the Edinburgh Gilbert & Sullivan Society (EDGAS), and occasional appearances in lesser known musical works staged by ‘Alan Borthwick & Friends’. He has now notched up a total of around forty different roles in operas by Gilbert and/or Sullivan, as well as parts in half a dozen other musicals. But in ‘straight’ plays he has jumped direct from juvenile roles to elderly butlers. Apart from a couple of short two-hander playlets for Tempo Productions in the Fringe a few years back (with fellow cast member Dorothy Johnstone), The Hollow is the first non-musical play Ian has appeared in for forty years – he’s looking forward to it!
Now retired as an accountant, Ian keeps busy as a church organist, Diocesan Treasurer, active grandfather, dog-walker, Elgar devotee, concert convenor for EDGAS and occasional cabaret ‘artiste’. He and his wife live in ‘Wester Murrayfield’, close to their elder daughter, but periodically disappear off – rehearsals permitting – to check up on a holiday house they rent out on the Atlantic coast of Cornwall, or to see their younger daughter on the Pacific coast of California.
- Biography taken from the programme for The Hollow (2020)