Skip to main content

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …