Sunday, 26 February 2012

An Appointment With The Wicker Man


His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
As sacred cows of Scottish pop culture go, Robin Hardie’s 1970s post 
counter-culture big-screen pagan romp The Wicker Man has become an icon of weird 
Caledonia. Greg Hemphill and Donald McLeary’s approach to the film’s legacy is 
to take screenwriter Anthony Shaffer’s original yarn about a virgin copper who 
uncovers a ritualistic conspiracy while investigating a young girl’s 
disappearance on a remote island, and turn it into a very camp piece of music 
hall absurdism.

The conceit in Vicky Featherstone’s National Theatre of Scotland production is 
to focus on a rubbish fictional am-dram group’s own ludicrous attempt to put The 
Wicker Man onstage, with all the cack-handed egomania one might expect from such 
a ruse. The result, as Sean Biggerstaff’s too cool for school TV actor Rory is 
hired to give the show some kudos, is a curious mish-mash of drug-induced Noises 
Off style backstage shenanigans and Singalonga Wicker Man.

As a half-hour extended TV sketch, all this would be fine, but over a full show, 
what is essentially an overblown theatre industry in-joke can’t really sustain 
the nonsense, even with Sally Reid dry-humping her way through Britt Ekland’s 
butt-slapping routine. While there’s a few choice one-liners amid the comic 
business, Reid and a cracking cast including Jimmy Chisholm, Rosalind Sydney and 
Hemphill himself seem at half-speed. As with its inspiration, if they’re going 
to kill their prey, they need to be as ruthless as they are when they murder 
Paul Giovanni’s original psych-folk songs. These are by far the best part of a 
show that tours to the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.

The Herald, February 23rd 2012

ends

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