Monday, 15 September 2014

Mr Bolfry

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Three stars
A giant crucifix flanked by The Ten Commandments is the opening gambit
of director Patrick Sandford's wryly observed and all too rare revival
of James Bridie's World War Two era philosophical inquiry into good and
evil in a Wee Free Highland Manse. If this sounds like a wilfully
portentious statement, once the two squaddies stationed there, Cohen
and Cully, hook up with the minister McCrimmon's flighty niece Jean and
embark on a game that conjures up the Devil himself, the play more
resembles a fantastical TV show peopled by sophisticated demons who
spout long-winded monologues in pursuit of the souls of the youthful
and equally articulate gang tasked to thwart them.

If Bridie unwittingly penned an admittedly hokey template for Buffy,
Charmed, et al, Sandford's production remains rooted in the era it was
written in. Dougal Lee's smooth-talking Mr Bolfry breezes into the
manse's Sunday night austerity and offers up a litany on the
transcendent powers and pleasures of art and life beyond old-time
religion. By the time Bolfry has taken flight, with Greg Powrie's
McCrimmon in hot pursuit, the doors of perception have opened up for
all.

For all the play's lofty moral aspirations, all aboard Sandford's
production are having great fun with it, adding levity to what could be
rendered as an overly verbose affair. Lee by turns spars and flirts
with his gathered congregation, with Karen Fishwick's Jean clearly a
free spirit in waiting, while Kirsty MacLaren's maid, Morag, is already
spellbound.  As all discover that the pleasures of the flesh maybe
aren't so sinful after all, the assorted clinches they get into
suggests happy ever afters have been corrupted forever more.

The Herald, September 15th 2014




ends

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