Jacobite Country, by Henry Adam

Wednesday, 18 August, 2010

Skilful, honest, amusing

Edinburgh ‘10 – Cow Barn, Udderbelly,  5th -30th   August, (15.50)

Jacobite Country

This new comedy drama production by Dogstar Theatre from Inverness deserves a large audience. The performing company of four very talented young women are a credit to theatre in Scotland.  The actresses bring this play to life with vigour. Energetically reaching into the auditorium without need for microphones or expensive staging, they co-create a strange world of cracked beings struggling to be recognised in the modern world. Are they patients or staff in a mental hospital? Are they living in their imaginations or telling us the truth about life, as they experience it?  The surreal and dingy set, effectively representing the various unkempt places the characters inhabit, will easily transfer to any village or town hall in Scotland.

Sarah Haworth, as Haggis McSporran is a joy to watch, exploring the edges of sanity necessary to become a Highland Comedian from ‘Jacobite Country’, rehearsing his stand –up act and engaging in rapid-fire conversation with a variety of ‘odd’ people who define his daily life. His comedy is anchored in the daily frustrations of being a person whose life experience is almost incomprehensible to “folk from the South “.

The playwright walks the boundaries of truth and bigotry with great elegance, giving Haggis McSporran a splendid comedy set which Sarah Haworth delivers with brio. She creates pathos by committing to Haggis’s enthusiasms and ingenuous questioning of his fellows when trying to work out what is truth and what is not.

Fiona Morrison plays Craitur Face with equal style and grace, physical agility and high speed delivery. This character is the philosopher in the mix, playing with notions of spiritual reality, freedom and positive thinking while bouncing around the set “ out of it “ on what-ever is available. The conversations between Haggis and Craitur Face are enormously energetic and engaging, humorous and full of meaningful content, appropriate to the condition of young people all over our country in rural areas.

Mairi Morrison is splendid in all her characters, playing Vernon, Eddy and Granny with a fine seriousness and comic talent. She creates lovely cameos moving in different rhythms, to counter-point the manic pair, giving them apparently solid outside reference points with which to relate as the story unfolds.

As Uncle Angus, Annie Grace is ever present upon the stage, once allowed out of the cupboard! Uncle Angus plays the Ulian Pipes from a wheelchair. Annie maintains a splendid stillness, plays beautifully and when Angus finally speaks many of the layers of mystery are woven together with great sanity, making us question any false conclusions to which we might have leapt.

The voices in this play are authentically Highland. If you are a Scot the high speed delivery will thrill you, since no quarter is given to those who ‘ cannot understand the accent’. Should you have little capacity for understanding Scottish voices you might be a little lost from time to time but the powerful physicality of the performances, the music and the surreal nature of the piece make this a minor difficulty to which you will soon adjust, swept along by the enthusiastic, skilful creation of a  world which defies solid definition.

Cast Credits: Annie Grace Actor, Fiona Morrison Actor, Mairi Morrison Actor, Sarah Haworth Actor

Company Credits: Artistic Director – Matthew Zajac, Artistic Director – Hamish MacDonald, Director Mathew Zajac, Assistant Director – Iain MacDonald, Playwright-Henry Adam, Technical Stage Manager- John Gordon, Sound design -Timothy Brinkhurst, Set and Costume Designer – Ulla Karisson, Lighting designer – John Gordon, Step Dance Instructor – Hugh Nicol, Live Music Arrangement – Annie Grace, Producer – Matthew Zajac, Production Manager – Shottto Bruce, Assistant Designer – Peggy Jones, Set Construction- Angus Dunn, General Manager – Catherine MacNeil, Press and Marketing- Liz Smith, Production Photography – Colin Campbell, Rehearsal Photography- Paul Campbell, Publicity Photography- Lawrence Winram, Publicity Design- Emma Quinn www.dogstartheatre.co.uk / www.edfringe.com/venues/udderbelly-s-pasture

( c ) Lilian Kennedy Brzoska 2010

reviewed Sunday 15th August ’10

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