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Whisky Galore

Dundee Rep
4 stars
Paul Godfrey’s stage adaptation of Compton Mackenzie’s famously filmed 
novel is as clever as Michael Frayn’s backstage farce, Noises Off.  
Framed as a 1950s BBC radio play, such a conceit not only allows for 
subtle hints of backstage shenanigans among its cast of three who 
appear alongside a tireless sound effects man. Sharing the original 
story’s multiple roles among the trio also makes for canny economic 
sense.

Godfrey’s version was last seen at the old Mull Little Theatre. Irene 
MacDougall’s new production, which tours community centres in the area 
this week, does much to capture the show’s essence, both in its 
stylistic dexterity and its deceptively subversive intent.

For those who don’t know it, Mackenzie’s World War Two-set yarn is set 
on two neighbouring islands whose whisky rationing is overcome via a 
fortuitous shipwreck’s offloaded cargo. As played here, an entire 
community is personified with a swiftly changed facial expression or 
accent. John Buick is leading man and narrator Sir Hoppy Caruthers, 
while Martin McBride’s dashing Dick Burns plays Hoppy’s assorted foils.

As regal diva Fanny Heywood-Haddock, Emily Winter plays all the women 
of the island, from battle-axes to belles, as well as several 
over-excited canines for good measure. There is the merest hint too of 
possible extra-curricular activities between the two fictional 
thespians that goes beyond professionalism. Unlike Frayn’s play, where 
one might expect things to fall apart, here they don’t.

Top marks must go to Kevin Lennon, who, as studio manager Ivor Ash, 
conjures up an entire audio world the old-fashioned way in a show that 
lays bare the full liberating power of what’s found in the bottom of a 
glass.

The Herald, October 30th 2012

ends

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