Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Stoirm Og and Cumbernauld take you on a generational journey within a family full of the past and struggling with the present. We meet Doddie and Meg for the lang sin past. They tell us of a love that began and didn’t blossom quite as it should. Within the narrative we are brought up to the present day with a family who sold their shop and are now struggling to deal with their new reality. The full horror of what has happened in the past is contained in a kist, now sitting in the middle of the shop. Eventually the pull of opening it is too much for the youngest and she opens a box that her mother felt was best left shut.
The opening of Spectretown sets us up for a passionate and Doric exploration of the sins of the past haunting the lives of the present. We have ghost like creatures appearing from the back to start our story of Meg and Doddie. Their courting is all too familiar for the time until Doddie’s attempted rise to the top causes strife and problems as he favours a minister on the side of the workers. We are then brought to a shop where one young woman is accosted as she seems to be breaking into the shop by her mother. The volunteer assistant arrives to challenge the mother over any idea that the door had not been locked. We are introduced to a kist on the floor and a set of fractured characters that may be unable to care for each other properly but can show their love in strange ways. It all leads to revelations that may make no difference to their futures but will change them forever.
The script may take an Anglo ear a little while to adjust to but once done there is a poetry and lyricism that Doric gives this piece that makes it all the more beautiful. It is driven by three performers who are not only comfortable in it but make no apology for it. There is no hesitancy and therefore we have the joy of hearing Scots deliver far more than the comic interludes for which it has become stock in trade.
When we move to the present day and meet Nan, Izzy and Stan that lyrical feel is continued and not abandoned to give us an urban or modern feel. Such confidence in the language is palpable.
The set is highly evocative of the time and the periods with the back looking solid in the lighting as we enter and then being the entrance for our ghost like characters. It stands as part of the production because it introduces us to things all being not what they seem. There are shadows for us all to consider with this production.
It is in those shadows that the final expose comes as quite a shock. Here is how to theatrically deliver a shock as we have a voice over tell of an event that we witness. It is full of another voice, of another time, talking of late 19th Century Aberdeenshire in 1949, but laden with the visual of the present. Such layers add to the complexities with which this script has delivered.
The sound scape is brought to us with one musician onstage who also plays parts to aid the narrative. It has all the joy and desperation needed.
I left feeling that I had been witness to something quite special but also very mainstream. The use of our language needs vehicles like this to continue the confidence we feel about performing in our native tongue. That such a sentence is used today should become redundant in the future as more of this celebration of our culture whilst tackling dramatic issues leads to a new acceptance of our heritage as being celebratory for being used and not celebrated for being cute.