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Whisky Kisses

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars
When American wheeler-dealer Ben Munro attempts to buy up the final
dregs of the rarest whisky in the world, things don't quite go
according to plan. So it goes in Euan Martin, Dave Smith and composer
James Bryce's rollicking musical play, in which the Glenigma malt
becomes a symbol both of the absurdities of global capitalism and of
the life-force of a rural community struggling for economic survival.
Of course, John Durnin's big, showbiz-styled production is a whole lot
more fun than that, but such underlying political motifs are what
drives this revival of a show first seen in 2010 following its
development from the Highland Quest competition to find a new Scottish
musical.

With distillery heiress Mary forced to sell off the last bottle of
Glenigma to the highest bidder, the auction also attracts a Japanese
collector, setting up an east-west conflict that captures the attention
of the Scottish government. With an export ban imposed on proceedings,
the theme-parking of the village's heritage seems to be the only way
out.

The metaphors aren't difficult to spot in this rousingly optimistic
affair, which also features a gay love story sub-plot and a valuable
lesson on the real roots of country music. Durnin's fabulously
well-drilled ensemble led by Dougal Lee as Ben and Mairi Morrison as
Mary are in fine voice as the action zips between town and country on
Ken Harrrison's fluid set. With all the actors contributing to Jon
Beales' big-band arrangements of Bryce's score, Morrison's Gaelic solo
in particular is thrilling to hear in a gloriously idealistic toast to
the power of community in an increasingly cut-throat world.

The Herald, May 26th 2014


ends

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