After a one-night stand with an old flame from America, Vicky loses interest in Clive. Hurt by the betrayal, Clive sleeps with Mo, a waitress from a local café. She in turn is modelling for Clay, the draft-dodging American photographer whose visits up and down the country find him in both Vicky’s and Mo’s beds. The chain of infidelity and promiscuity is uncovered when all four contract the ‘Saigon Rose’, the slang term used by American GIs during the Vietnam War for gonorrhoea.
As the infection spreads, the modern ‘American’ values represented by Clay are also transmitted, corrupting the relationships which connect these four characters. Although sparked by the arrival of the foreign photographer, David Edgar’s portrayal of the clashes in personal, sexual and political mores hints at the underlying fragility of this Scottish society.
Saigon Rose was first presented at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh in July 1976. It was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1979.