Riding the Midnight Express*** (Upstairs at Le Monde, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 13, 2014 in Theatre

riding-midnight-express-billy-hayes-76The 1978 Alan Parker/Oliver Stone film Midnight Express lives long in the memory for its brutal depiction of the experiences in a Turkish jail of Billy Hayes, a young American drug smuggler. Release of the film cut Turkish tourism by 95% instantly and the effects may still be felt today. This presentation gives us a chance to meet the real Billy Hayes who did not play himself in the film, even though he became an actor after regaining his freedom in 1975. Hayes never suggests that any part of the film is fiction, but the version of events which he gives here is somewhat different. He shows little contrition for having been an habitual drug smuggler up to the time of his arrest in 1970, acknowledging only his foolishness and talks of his actions in this period as if he had been a youthful prankster. He places much less emphasis than in the film on the horrors of the years in jail and says hardly anything about the friends he made there. However, he goes into much more detail on his escape, painting a picture of himself as a sort of Indiana Jones. Being an actor Hayes knows how to put on a slick and polished show, which may be the reason why some of the story seems not quite as real as it obviously is. Nonetheless, We are given a considerable amount of interesting detail and a lot to enlighten film buffs.

Performance date: 13 August 2014

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