Sunday, 2 October 2011

Singing Far Into The Night

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
3 stars
Strikes, riots and pay-cuts for the lowest earners are all the rage
just now, the first two possibly with good reason. None of this is
anything new, however, as Hamish MacDonald's new play for Mull Theatre
makes clear in a tale of would-be revolutionaries on the streets of
Glasgow and aboard a Royal Navy ship in 1931. Inspired by real life
events when sailors in Invergordon protested at a twenty-five per cent
wage cut while officers continued to lord it over them, MacDonald's
script follows the travails of Connal MacNab, who becomes a figurehead
for a mutiny that mirrors his journalist brother Finlay's would-be
Bolshevik tendencies on terra firma.

As an incarcerated Connal looks back on an adventure that led to his
downfall forty-odd years earlier along with thrill-seeking actress
Erica, what becomes evident in this hitherto buried piece of peoples
history is just how much the establishment are prepared to put the boot
in when they're found out.

Things are muddied somewhat in the first half of Alasdair McCrone's
production, which flits between scenes of Connal's interrogation and an
array of flashbacks which require more of a back-story to fully
connect. By the second act, however, a more elegiac tone for a
seemingly lost cause is realised. It is here that Harry Ward comes into
his own as Connal, thrust out into the world as Finlay and Erica find
some kind of reconciliation.

Beyond his play's occasional flaws, MacDonald has nevertheless
reclaimed a significant event and used it as a very timely metaphor of
how, if you push people too far, they become radicalised enough to
strike back.

The Herald, September 27th 2011

ends

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