Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock Four stars There's something irresistibly invigorating about Robert Louis Stevenson's historical romp, first published in 1886. Dressing it up as a Boys Own style adventure was a master-stroke, and by putting young David Balfour in the thick of a plot that involves political intrigue, Jacobite rebellion and considerable macho swagger, Stevenson created something akin to a Look and Learn of its day that has captured the imaginations of would-be Davie's ever since. The ambitious Sell A Door company take the book's spirit and run with it in Anna Fox's big, bold production of Ivan Wilkinson's new stage version, which opened its extensive tour last week. There's already something of a commotion onstage as the audience enter to the cast belting out a song on fiddle, guitar and pounding percussion as if they were a punk-folk ceilidh combo in full pelt. This is just a curtain-raiser, however, to allows the older Davie to spin a yarn about his colourful past to entertain his guests. As Stewart McCheyne's young Davie sets off on what turns out to be the ultimate rites of passage, the rest of the multi-tasking cast of five unveil a world which,no matter how far Davie roams, is forever defined by the giant map of Scotland that hangs in a frame at the back of the stage. It's a fast-moving ride, with puppetry, music and stylised movement played out on a set where walls become a ship in an instant. Balfour and Simon Weir's Alan Breck, who struts the stage as cocksure as a young Iain Cuthbertson, form a swashbuckling dynamic duo in a complex tale of loyalties that go beyond politics to something deeper.
The Herald, January 20th 2014 ends