Oran Mor star tells his own love story as play de­liv­ers ro­man­tic re­minder


TOM McGovern’s ap­pear­ance this week in Oran Mor play The Ori­gins of Ivor Punch, a love story, is a poignant re­minder of his per­sonal ro­man­tic tale.

Colin MacIn­tyre’s play is set in the present day and in the 1860’s, on a re­mote Scot­tish is­land (based on the isle of Mull).

It touches on themes of mythol­ogy and fea­tures the Vic­to­rian love story be­tween the post­man Ivor and Hen­ri­etta Bird, who reg­u­larly re­ceives let­ters from her travelling sis­ter.

The tale, based on the Ed­in­burgh In­ter­na­tional First Book Award-win­ning novel The Let­ters of Ivor Punch by mu­si­cian and au­thor MacIn­tyre, “ex­plores the world of ori­gin and iden­tity”.

It’s also a tragic story. Hen­ri­etta, we learn, be­comes preg­nant. And it’s the post­man’s child. But in this time frame, that’s not ac­cept­able at all.

Tom smiles as he re­veals his own love story to be less com­pli­cated.

“I met my wife Lorna at drama col­lege in 1988, what is now the Con­ser­va­toire,” he rewinds.

“I was ac­tu­ally go­ing out with a friend of hers at the time. But Lorna was al­ways around the gang, and we were good friends.”

But all that changed when the drama col­lege held its Valen­tine’s dance in Glas­gow’s Sub Club, which Tom and Lorna at­tended.

“I had just split up with my girl­friend at the time and be­gan chat­ting to this other girl. Then all of a sud­den I re­alised Lorna had dis­ap­peared. I thought ‘What the hell is go­ing on?’

“I knew she lived in Hyn­d­land so I fol­lowed the route I thought she would take and found her.

“I asked why she’d left and she said ‘I thought I’d come to the dance with you.’

“I said ‘You did.’ And she replied ‘Well, come on then.’ And we went back to her place and we’ve been to­gether ever since.’”

He adds: “I hadn’t re­alised Lorna had feel­ings for me. But in hind­sight, I re­alised I’d only en­joyed the com­pany of my pre­vi­ous girl­friend when Lorna was around.

“Now I ap­pre­ci­ate I’m so lucky to have here.”

Tom McGovern’s act­ing ca­reer has en­dured the highs and lows of most Scot­tish ac­tors.

Since win­ning the Gold Medal and the Shake­speare prize at drama col­lege he went on to work at the Lyceum in Ed­in­burgh and has had an il­lus­tri­ous theatre ca­reer.

He’s starred in Ham­let, Pri­vate Lives, The Cone Gather­ers, in panto , in mu­si­cals such as Guys and Dolls. In­deed, Tom McGovern has proved him­self a chameleon.

“But not work­ing is the dif­fi­cult part,” he says with a shrug.

“It can be hard in Scotland right now be­cause it’s dif­fi­cult to be even seen for parts. And very of­ten England-based cast­ing directors look to the south to fill the roles.

“I think that’s wrong. I’m not be­ing anti-English, but I feel if you’re an act­ing liv­ing in Scotland you should have a fair crack of the whip.”

He adds; “That’s changed a lot since I left drama col­lege. But all you can do is hope.

“I try to stay fit to make sure I’m ready when a part comes along.

“But I’ve been re­ally for­tu­nate in that Lorna has been so sup­port­ive. She works as a full time vi­o­lin teacher and she’s kept me go­ing through­out this pre­car­i­ous ca­reer I’ve cho­sen to have.

“And the bot­tom line is she’s my best pal. I’m just so for­tu­nate.”

He adds, smil­ing: “And re­cently I’ve be­come a grand­fa­ther, which is a great fo­cus.”

He has en­joyed the process of get­ting into char­ac­ter for Ivor Punch. Tom plays Charles Dar­win – who comes to Mull in the play.

And in mod­ern times he’s the post­man’s friend Randy.

But what about the words GOD IS LOVE which have ap­peared painted on a cliff face?

And how does the pi­o­neer­ing Vic­to­rian travel writer Is­abella and Hen­ri­etta link the past to the present?

“Yes, there are el­e­ments of fantasy in the story,” says Tom. “But it all makes sense in the end.”

„ The Ori­gins of Ivor Punch, Oran Mor, un­til Satur­day also stars An­drew John Tait and Eva Traynor.

Eva Traynor, Tom McGovern and An­drew John Tait in The Ori­gins of Ivor Punch

Tom McGovern, who is ap­pear­ing in Tommy’s Song writ­ten and di­rected by Lou Pren­der­gast, and right, in Mac­beth

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