Eastgate Theatre, Peebles 3 stars Robert Louis Stevenson probably wasn’t the first to rewrite Scottish history as a Boy’s Own style adventure, and he certainly wasn’t the last. On the one hand, Kidnapped’s eighteenth century orphan Davie Balfour’s on the run rites of passage over land and sea en route to reclaiming his stolen birthright is a heroic yarn of discovery and derring-do. On the other, it’s a state of the nation dot-to-dot through history that throws Davie together with real-life figures in the ferment of some of the most crucial moments that followed the Jacobite Rising.
Cumbernauld Theatre’s Ed Robson takes advantage of this in his pocket-sized three-person touring production which utilises live and recorded back-projections, puppets and story-telling techniques in a quick-fire romp through the landscape.
If the TV news report is an idea pioneered in Peter Watkins’ seminal film, Culloden, the projections of puppet gladiators on the battlefield looks straight off YouTube. Some of the more scenic projections that accompany Scott Hoatson’s Davie galloping through the glens with Peter Callaghan’s Alan Breck Stewart to Bal Cooke’s rollicking score, meanwhile, look like airbrushed offcuts from a Visit Scotland ad in what at times looks something akin to the sort of TV drama that marks a political epoch with a telly blaring out real-life news footage at the edge of the human narrative centre-stage.
With Alan Steele doubling up as assorted wicked uncles, sea Captains and redcoats, beyond al this, Cumbernauld’s Kidnapped cuts to the heart of what matters to both accidental wanderers in very different ways. While Davie is learning to be a man, like his comrade and adversary, exile has taught him to believe in something beyond home.
The Herald, April 20th 2012