It's been quite a week for Robert Louis Stevenson at the RCS. Running alongside a devised post-modern take on Jekyll and Hyde, the rarely explored backstage area of the New Athenaeum Theatre became the venue for a look at his Boys Own style response to the 1745 Jacobite uprising like no other.
With the audience herded into a room awash with metal platforms, hanging ropes and stainless steel ladders, Graham McLaren's production rips into Stevenson's yarn with hell-for-leather abandon, as an ensemble of fourteen final year students from the BA Acting course jump into David Balfour and Alan Breck's dissident world. That they do this by way of flying ships, upside-down aerial acrobatics and Vicky Manderson's joyous choreography makes McLaren and co's take on things no ordinary adaptation.
The ghosts of both Bill Bryden's post-industrial spectacles and Ken Campbell's lysergically charged epics loom large here, and they'd no doubt both look kindly on the extra added gymnastics that give Stevenson's story such a kick. With two sets of actors playing the dynamic duo in tandem, as they go on the run there are moments where taking flight takes on a whole new dimension inbetween them climbing the walls.
Clocking in at just under an hour, and pumped along by Iain Copeland's raucous beats and bagpipes score, there's so much going on that there's barely a chance for either audience or performer to catch their breath, or indeed some of the text. What it lacks at times in narrative coherence is more than made up for in terms of energy and spirit in what swiftly erupts into an almighty ceilidh of a show.
The Herald, November 10th 2015