Mitchell School of Drama - A Midsummer Night's Dream
To witness this "Midsummer Night's Dream" is to enter a world of enchantment.
Magic and mystery abound, and cause mayhem in the material world - is this not the very essence of Shakespeare's play? But what this production offers also is charm - in the music, the costumes, the set, and in the actors' performances. Smiles and shining eyes abound, while the company's enthusiasm is palpable.
Most impressive of all is each young actor's ability not only to speak the dialogue intelligently but also to communicate to the audience every nuance of every line. The level of understanding of the text is outstanding and comes from a company process of devising the show as an ensemble; indeed the ensemble share many of the highlights as they sing and dance their way through "Dream a little dream of me" and "Dream Lover".
All the principal characters give strong performances: Joe Simpson is both a romantic Theseus and a self-loving Oberon, Rosalind Watt portrays Hippolyta and Titania with great poise and style; Imogen Watt excells as a fun-loving Puck while Isla Kinnaird is a charming changeling child. The four lovers (Eliz. Smith, Abbie Faskin, Aaron Bisset, Reuben Gedge) swing violently and comically in their passions and rivalry. For knockabout comedy credit must be given to Archie Whyte (Peter Quince) and Paul Paterson (Bottom) and their troupe giving a hilarious send-up of amateur "ham" acting.
There are constant moments of surprise and delights: the reporting of The Royal Wedding by STV news; the magical flying birds; the pictures of The Royals in their castle home, ending with Puck locking the door.......
With a twinkling set, striking costumes by Liz Cork, and sensitive sound and music from Ashley Forbes' band, this show is a delight.
Catch it at The Lemon Tree, as part of AIYF, July 28 - 30.
‘All the principal characters give strong performances: Joe Simpson is both a romantic Theseus and a self-loving Oberon…’
‘Had I not seen him in the flesh, I should have thought Joe Simpson sounded like a very young David Tennant.’
‘Joe Simpson was excellent in the joint roles of Theseus, Duke of Athens and Oberon, King of the Fairies…’
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Wyness Hall, Inverurie
Sex & God
Wyness Hall, Inverurie
Wyness Hall, Inverurie
Once again this talented group of youngsters brought us an innovative and entertaining version of one of Shakespeare’s classic plays about murder plots, revenge and love. Clever use of screen puppetry and “Big Band” era music, using a crooner and backing singers, was made to move the story along. Also there were tributes to “Sunday Night at the London Palladium”, including a “Beat the Clock” game with contestants drawn from the audience, and “Strictly Come Dancing” including an excellent Latin and Ballroom dance finale from the whole company. Gwyllum Hunter as Prospero, Duke of Milan gave a commanding and aristocratic performance throughout. Craig Sandison’s animalistic and athletic performance as the Duke’s Savage and deformed slave Caliban was nicely balanced by Rosalind Watt’s graceful and balletic performance as the spirit Ariel. Imogen Watt and Paul Patterson, as the Doric speaking servants Trincula and Stephano, brought gales of laughter from the audience with their every appearance. Strong support was given by Mary Williams and Joe Simpson as the young lovers Miranda and Ferdinand, Finley Whelan-Duenas as Alonso, King of Naples, Elizabeth Smith and Zoe Stark as the sisters of Alonso and Prospero respectively and Meg Moir as Gonzala, counsellor to Alonso. Mention too must be made of Jordan Abberley as the Crooner/Presenter and his backing group the Desert Island Dolls ( Lucy Ashley, Alice Foulis and Annabelle McLeod) whose delightful singing added much to the enjoyment of the evening. With simple, but effective, set and lighting, colourful costuming and backing from the five piece band, the whole production was excellent. Well done everyone at MSD Productions for another first class show.
Douglas J Clark, Regional Rep
Shakespeare “Twelfth Night”
DATE : 21 June 2012
GROUP Mitchell School of Drama
Review: John Smith - Inverurie Advertiser
VENUE: Wyness Hall, Inverurie
The young actors of the Mitchell School of Drama have pulled off yet another highly polished and totally enjoyable performance in their contribution to the 2012 Garioch Theatre Festival. They tackled William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, at the Wyness Hall, Inverurie ( I was there on 21 June). Producer/Director Rhona Mitchell brought many intriguing touches to the Bard’s popular comedy. In my estimation this allowed the farce to retain much of its original nonsense and yet also made many connections to the modern world.
The story in brief is that siblings Sebastian and Viola endure a shipwreck. Viola(Rosalind Watt) is thrown up on a beach at Illyria. Thinking her brother drowned and she now alone, she disguises herself as a boy (Cesario) and joins the court of Count Orsino(Alex Duncan in an almost Wildean role!). He uses Viola/Cesario as a ploy to try to get the attention of Countess Olivia (Olivia Watt) whom he loves (fancies is probably more true). The first of the many complications is that the countess herself becomes attracted to Cesario. But, Cesario is falling for the Count, her boss, who even though he understands Cesario to be a boy, is himself getting drawn to him/her!
When later Sebastian (Finlay Whelan-Duenas) eventually arrives at Illyria he is apparently so like his sister in dress and looks that all parties in the play confuse the two, and chaos ensues. The audience has to suspend a little belief here! Of course everything comes right in the end.
A side plot involves Sir Toby Belch((Elijah O’Connor) and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Joe Simpson) who might be termed drunken Posh Lads with more money than sense, the countess’s steward Malvolio(Jordan Abberley) and Maria the servant(Eilidh Bett), Feste the fool (Imogen Watt) and Fabian the gardener(Alice Foulis). In this group jealousies, avarice and competition all contrive to allow for fabulously funny scenes in which all the characters gave vent to the many possibilities for comic portrayal. Jordan’s over the top creep when in the ascendant and desperately miserable self-pitying on the down was simply great (incidentally he has a rather good singing voice). Equally the skills and timing by Feste the fool were impressive and enjoyable. Newcomer Elijah O’Connor showed great promise in a part which I understand he came to at rather short notice.
Helping the story along were the Illyria Girls (a nine strong choir which looked a composite of Girls Aloud/Spice Girls and any other number of current girl bands). They tweeted on their phones, sang pop favourites which were apposite to the situations, and reacted with OMGs, LOLs and the hysterical squeaks and noises which modern teenagers are wont to punctuate all their conversations, to the various situations they were witnessing. All this, which could have been distracting, melded into the play with remarkable and satisfying ease. The graphics which accompanied the performances brought modern b_ehaviour even further to the fore. It is only fair to congratulate the musicians and the rest of the production team which seemed to make much out of not an easy venue.
There were other minor characters ,Orsino’s men, Antonia the pirate, the Captain and the Vicar who by their interpretation of their roles added to the drama and the fun. By dint of the size of the part and its complications I would want to congratulate Rosalind on the way she played Viola/Cesario. I was impressed. Shakespeare subtitled the play “What You Will”. For me, with the three sisters (Rosalind, Olivia and Imogen) this was almost Watt You Will! The show is appearing at the Lemon Tree Theatre Aberdeen on 1-3 August. Please go to see it.
MSD Productions - Twelfth Night
Once again this youth company decided to put their own stamp on to one of William Shakespeare’s classic plays and came up with delightfully refreshing piece. The use of colourful animations projected on to the back wall of the pure white set and the the singing and dancing Illyria Girls helped carry the story along well. Rosalind Watt as Viola/Cesario was excellent in the double cross-dressing main role. Oliva Watt as Countess Olivia made the transition from deep mourning sister to coquettish, love-seeking maiden a joy to watch. Jordan Abberley, as Olivia’s lovelorn and much put upon steward Malvolio, gave a delightfully humorous and over the top performance. Strong support was given by Finlay Whelan-Duenas (Sebastian), Alex Duncan (Orsino, Duke of Illyria), Eilidh Bett (Maria, Olivia’s servant), Elijah O’Connor (Sir Toby Belch), Joe Simpson (Sir Andew Aguecheek), Imogen Watt (Feste, the fool) and Alice Foulis (Fabian). Well done everyone!
Douglas J Clark Regional Rep District 9 - NODA Scotland
'Comedy of Errors'
This adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s early plays used puppets, magic and music, along with the Bard’s words, to tell the story of two sets of estranged twins. The costuming of the cast in 1950’s style allowed music of that era to be used very effectively in the unfolding of the story. Ruth Ledingham and Maren Mitchell as twins Antipholus of Syracuse and Ephesus respectively gave excellent performances. Rosalind Watt and Morven Bett as Dromio of Syracuse and Ephesus respectively, their twin servants, also gave excellent performances with their comic antics eliciting lots of laughter from the audience. Strong performances were also given by Olivia Watt (Adriana) and Danielle Fentiman (Luciana) as the love interests of the Antipholus twins. The performances of each of the 20 young people in the cast- from lowly kitchen maid to high born Duke – were exemplary. Well done all at MSD Productions for another excellent show.
Devised by the company
Directed & Choreographed by Rhona Mitchell
Music & Songs by Ashley Forbes
MSD Productions Our Scotland 18-20 June 2009
Director/Choreographer: Rhona Mitchell Musical Director: Ashley Forbes
This show, devised and written by the company, took the form of a television magazine programme. Complete with hosts, celebrity guests, food and fashion features, schools quiz final, weather girls, bagpipes, fiddlers and scottish country dancers it was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to both modern shows and shows of the past like the White Heather Club. The cast without exception were excellent. Holding things together were Stephen Innes and Danielle Fentiman as the good looking,charming tartan clad hosts. Among the many characters portrayed mention must be made of Claire Gauld as The Rhyme Quine and Alison Telfer as the winner of reality show “Big Grunny”. The finale was a humorous but touching telling of the story of Mr & Mrs Ordinary from their births to the death of Mr Ordinary, with a backing of songs by Robert Burns. With original songs by Ashley Forbes and excellent choreography this was a most enjoyable evening.
Douglas J Clark (NODA Scotland)
A new production by Garidge Theatre Company and Mitchell School of Drama
Staged as part of the annual Garioch Festival, this was another premiere with the script written by local author Charles Barron in conjunction with input from Company members who had researched all of their own characters with an accompanying exhibition.
The storyline followed the life of Lottie, born in a Northeast poorhouse, and explored the lives of people with whom she had come into contact. With superb direction from Rhona Mitchell, everything about this production was just right, from the splendid costumes, excellent make-up and the clever map of the Garioch which provided the set.
This was shades of Les Mis meets Lewis Grassic Gibbon with music that was sometimes traditional Scottish, sometimes jazz, yet always appropriate and provided by a “funky” 4 piece combo.
Very much an ensemble piece, the Company performed with some wonderful facial expressions and a discipline both on-stage and off stage in the open wings that would shame many an adult company;-watching MSD perform should be made compulsory!
It would be almost unfair to single out any individual performances but special mention must be made of;-Ruth Ledingham as the frightening and perpetually scowling Granny Cran, lauding it above everyone as she arrived on her handcart.
Stephen Innes as the Chairman, in a multi-coloured suit giving an oily EmCee type performance.
The bitchy and bullying “Gossips” and last but not least, Rosalind Watt giving a lively, streetwise performance in the title role as a sort of Doric Artful Dodger; - a remarkable show from a remarkable Company.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Director/ Choreographer: Rhona Mitchell
This production was part of the annual Aberdeen International Youth Festival, and although billed as Aberdeenshire Youth Theatre, the greater majority was made up of MSD youngsters who positively shone in this one off production.
Rhona Mitchell’s direction brought a really different twist to this Shakespeare classic, with a highly effective use of on stage video camera work with a large back projection screen-not forgetting the guest appearance by a certain North Today newscaster on film. I’m sure that Shakespeare never envisaged it, but the resulting Fly on the Wall reporting, gave real impact to the part that media plays in the life of celebrities.
Chief amongst these were Dan Greavey as Theseus/Oberon, with a particularly commanding entrance on to stage accompanied by a well matched Pamela Barrie as Hippolyta;-both cheered on by the masses waiting outside the palace, beautifully caught on camera prior to the forthcoming nuptials.
Every facial expression was caught by the media, giving a real challenge to which all Principals rose beautifully.
Jonathon Milton scuttled throughout the production as a frenetic Puck, matched only by a group of brightly costumed Spirits, possessed of a gleeful pixie-like quality as they dashed around the stage.
Of the Players, special mention must be made of Ruth Ledingham, a wonderful over acting Bottom, and the rest of the Interlude players, all clad in St Trinians’ uniform and full of comedy-I couldn’t stop laughing at Claire Gauld’s Wall.
In her first leading role with the company, Tilly Armstrong revealed a fine sense of comic timing as Helena, like a lovelorn spaniel, wonderfully tearful and mournful and giving real depth to her character.(But to me she will always be a strawberry!!)
Geoff Greavey, NODA Scotland
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"The production has been the highlight of this year's Festival. Your design and direction was inspired and there is some extraordinary talent amongst the cast. All of them showed tremendous joy and enthusiasm in what they were doing"
"... a fabulous performance which had me thoroughly entertained from start to finish"
Twelfth Night & Hamlet
by William Shakespeare
The second Garioch Theatre Festival brought two very different and well-chosen pieces of “Abridged” Theatre to the Wyness Hall, which once again excellently illustrated the splendid performance skills of this talented bunch of youngsters.
In “Twelfth Night”, the characters came tumbling out in this comedy of errors, punctuated with short and appropriate musical extracts-very much in the mode of “Loves Labours Lost”-and what a joy it was. Shakespeare was never like this when I was at school!
The clever musical links instantly set the scene for the next character or device, with much heaving of sighs for a performance in which “Anything Goes”.
A scheming trio of Maria (Olivia Watt), Sir Toby Belch (Ruth Ledingham) and wonderful facial expressions from Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Claire Gauld) input more than their fair share of humour.
As the song said, they had it just right “All the Way” for this first offering, and although all portrayals were excellent, my abiding memory for this production was a kilted lovelorn Malvolio (Stephen Innes) still trying to bravely smile, exiting, completely unnoticed, armed with a suitcase!
The second play, “Hamlet”, was given a much more modern interpretation with, I suspect, the characters being given a little more leeway with their persona. For those not fully au fait with Shakespeare, we were provided with a “Shakespeare enthusiast”(Emma Jack) and “bored theatregoer”(Lucy Weir) who “interpreted” some of the more problematical aspects of the Bard. “There’s been a murrdur” seemed to sum it up nicely!
Again strong performances from all, with Alison Telfer a splendid Viola, with Cara Fraser(Sebastian) suitably “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”. I must also mention a very powerful Hamlet from a Matrix-like Louise Dalgarno and an extremely camp King Claudius from Callum Bell, with a death scene to end all death scenes.
A multi-purpose set and splendid costumes from Liz Cork made this yet another memorable evening from MSD.
Passion: Grave Matters
by Charles Barron
Director: Rhona Mitchell
Performed under the artistic title of Passion, and written by local writer Charles Barron, this was in fact a community arts piece at a number of different locations in the same evening;-a real chance to experience the arts in different and unusual settings.
The ongoing Street Theatre group from within MSD moved the audience from location to location whilst at the same time keeping us informed on the things that they were passionate about. Having initially been escorted by a strawberry (yes, you read it correctly) to our first venue, the MSD youngsters gave us their main offering, Grave Matters, located not surprisingly in the local churchyard.
The plot revealed a cleverly written set of characters centred around the late “Geordie”- a local biker who had obviously been passionate about the ladies of the area and whose death revealed the complicated life that revolved around him and more especially those who had been left behind-with the exception of the main character’s granny who was here in spirit at least to advise her grand daughter about life and everything.
As well as being a most entertaining play, as ever the MSD cast revealed a whole raft of characters, all excellently portrayed. What made it even more impressive was that the heavy rain that they were forced to perform in didn’t for one moment dampen their enthusiasm or performing ability. They were all beautifully in character, completely focussed and positively shone.
Nice to meet the strawberry later, with a wonderfully improvised line of “just because I’m a strawberry, doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings!” –but then, perhaps you had to be there to appreciate it?
My second visit to the Garioch Theatre Festival for MSD’s second production in the unusual setting of the local British Legion in Inverurie. Partially devised by the cast themselves and scripted by Director Ewan Cameron, the programme stated - Expect nothing, anything, definitely not “proper theatre!” and that was certainly true for this piece of theatre in the round.
The venue limited the audience to just over thirty and made use of at least four different locations within the Legion Building for a very surreal story with characters a cross between Royston Vasey and Emmerdale! (I particularly liked the background Stairway to Heaven as the audience trudged its way up to the top floor in a confused crocodile!)
Strange characters abounded in this unusual offering with the young actors all over the top in their chosen characters-all peculiarly believable!
Was this the story of a power struggle between the local inhabitants and the evil machinations of a global company trying to set up a megastore or was it “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, -signifying nothing? Discuss!!
Geoff Greavey NODA Scotland
The Invergroovie Game
Directors; Ewan Cameron & Rhona Mitchell
Choreographer; Pam Taylor
This second offering from MSD (but a week later!) as their contribution to the Garioch Theatre Festival 2005 explored new ground, as it was the first piece of work totally devised by the company themselves. Based loosely around their home base of Inverurie (Invergroovie-get it?) it proved to be a surreal experience, with shades of Greek drama and "Alice". I was pleasantly surprised to find that although twelve of the twenty or so on stage were first timers, you would never have known. Everyone kept totally in character throughout and exuded confidence in a very tricky show.
Although all were good, special mention must be made of Stefanie Ritch as a very mature (and dominating!) Lady Luck, with John Scott making his on stage debut as a really wacky “Treasure”. I also enjoyed a real together performance from Alannah Cruickshank and Louise Dalgarno as Gemini, the Twins.
The whole company also got it together with some precise and challenging choreography and what was more important, looked like they were enjoying themselves-chicken and all!
Director: Graham Bett
When I learned that the setting for MSD’s production of “The Steamie” was to be in the relatively small Wyness Hall in Inverurie, I must admit I had my doubts as to the venue, but the choice proved to be perfect and provided a wonderfully intimate atmosphere for Tony Roper’s clever dialogue in this piece of theatre in the round.
This was a great study in characterisation which held the audience spellbound throughout. Pathos was there a-plenty with the reminiscences of Glasgow Green(yes, we were living it) and The sight of Liz Loggie as an underplayed Mrs Culfeathers getting slowly in and out of the washtub was a real piece of theatre that was a joy to behold. As indeed was the hilarious telephone conversation that was almost like eavesdropping, so well was it done.
I’m only grateful that I wasn’t in the front row though whilst the washing was being shaken!
It was a privilege to attend this excellent production.
by Charles Barron
Midsummer in Aberdeenshire was somewhat cold, wet and windy, but nothing dampened the enthusiasm of the audiences who attended this outdoor performance of a promenade play in four scenes by celebrated N.E. author, Charles Barron. In "Take Off Aborted", the audience boarded Garioch Airlines (actually a Bluebird/Stagecoach bus!) surrounded by a handful of dysfunctional, but highly entertaining characters. "Prepare for Take Off' soared to the heights of modem melodrama with an exploding bomb in the toilet, whilst the most original scene took place in a garden transformed into a world of insects, bluebottles, bees and glow-worms. The evening's denouement came in the church scene, "The Bride Takes Off', in which the audience became guests at a wedding which, true to dramatic form, never took place. All the young cast performed with verve and were adept at handling the perambulatory audience. They were a model of good diction and projection despite the conditions. Entertainment value was 100%, and the company thoroughly deserved their sell-out performances.
The Eagle Has Flown
by Charles Barron
Directors: Rhona Mitchell & Liz Loggie
I was delighted to attend the premiere performance of Charles Barron's "Eagle', a modern day Doric comedy drama, set on Bennachie and based loosely on the Twelve Labours of Hercules. And indeed it must have been a thirteenth labour getting the stone circle on the stage! The Eagle of the title was a very hassled Brown Owl, played extremely well by Karen Young with bags of angst, losing control of a rebellious pack of Brownies, all of whom were just perfect in their characterisations. Rescuing her sanity and carrying out the Labours were the mysterious Her, played very capably by Pamela Barrie, Ack, (Danielle Pirie), a wonderfully Doric friend of her brother Les (Zoe Tuach) - (Her-ack-les, clever huh?) This modern day allegory was a real treasure hunt of talent throughout, requiring some tight characterisation and excellent projection, and that is just what was delivered - complete with some very good local accents!
This play is the latest in a series of Gordon Forum commissions to professional artists. Charles Barron was invited to write a Doric drama that would involve a large cast of local young people. The Eagle has Flown certainly provided that; based loosely on 'The Twelve Labours of Heracles' the play has 74 named parts and multiple crowd scenes, with characters ranging from bird-watchers to Brownies, from monsters to modern-day Picts!
The young cast of the Mitchell School of Drama certainly rose to the challenges of this epic play. Director Rhona Mitchell's vision was wide-ranging, encompassing a set on two levels with an impressive array of standing stones. The inclusion of the Garioch Fiddlers, local pipers, and singing interludes were a delight, while the drama was heightened considerably by the atmospheric dance drama contributions from the Levena Taylor School of Dance.
Each of the young actors (age range 10 -mid-20's) played several parts and were convincing in each role. Voices were consistently clear and well-projected; the characterisation always accurate and often amusing. The costumes were unfailingly apt for each personality. Charles Barron has written an imaginative and demanding play which gives young actors a challenging experience. Congratulations to Rhona Mitchell and her team for bringing the play to life and enabling the eagle to fly so high!
REFLECTIONS OF A PLAYWRIGHT ON A WORLD PREMIERE by Charles Barron
My new play The Eagle Has Flown, written in the Doric was intended as a vehicle for 70 - 100 actors aged between 15 and 18. Original plans fell through and the premiere production was bravely taken on by MSD with a cast of under 30 - the majority much younger. Would this prove disastrous? There was one scene specifically written for a younger age group, at the request of one of the original schools; but what about the middle-aged ladies with their over-sexed dogs? Or the obsessional bird-watchers? The two old farmers taking a bull to meet a cow?
I was convinced that Rhona Mitchell, who runs MSD, was being overly optimistic. But she remained calm - well, calm-ish. And for me, it was just a question of turning up at the first night, as nervous as I have ever been at a premiere. It wasn't going to be the play I had pictured as I wrote. But what was it going to be?
The first scene was great; the actors were exactly the right age for the Brownies and their vitality was incredible. Thereafter, as scene followed scene, I was swept away by the sheer dynamism of the cast, totally forgetting the youth of so many of them. They squeezed every drop of humour out of the characters, attacked the action scenes with vigour, projected themselves and their roles with total confidence. Yes, there were moments that weren't as I had planned, but all theatre is a collaboration between writer and performers and I couldn't quibble with anything that I saw. The youth of the actors didn't matter when they showed such understanding of the follies of the middleages characters they were portraying. Even my shock at seeing the two principal male parts played by girls quickly gave way to delight at the exuberance of their performances and admiration of their insight into male personalities. And the fact that so many of the actors had to play several parts gave a heightened interest and increased my respect for their versatility. I came away delighted with what they had done with the play.
by Bruce Fraser
Music by Helen Stewart
“Youths do a grand job”
The writer of this play, Bruce Fraser, travelled from Glasgow where it received its premiere at the Cottier Theatre in 1995 - to see it performed in Inverurie by local performers from MSD Productions and he should return south a happy man, for the local group put on a very good show.
Set in a small 17th century Scottish community, 'Outcast,' begins when a girl (Alison Coleman) is hanged for theft, and the horror of the execution causes young woman Maggie Sinclair (Pamela Barrie) to express a natural bewilderment at God's working in the world.
But her innocent remarks are wilfully misinterpreted by Lizzie Glaitness (Eloise Thomson) and soon Maggie's cry of 'I don't understand,' is transformed by gossip into a criticism of God; soon words she never spoke - such as 'I am a witch!' - are attributed to Maggie, and rumour and gossip lead to a show trial presided over by sheriff Peter Atholl (Graeme Cumming) with laird Andrew Monteith (Scott Armstrong) prosecuting.
MSD presented this story excellently. There were light moments done very well, but you got a real sense of the potency of the trio of matriarchal worthies (including the sheriff's wife) who were the real opinion formers - and you got a sense of realchilling in the way theyy crystallised the gossip into an 'issue' which needed resolving by means of a trial.
Initiated by Atholl at the behest of his wife, the trial's purpose is twofold: to maintain Atholl's appearance of authority yet provide a vehicle for Monteith to wield his feudal power (as well as his innate desire for expressing that power: he's an altogether bad egg).
The ostensible reason for the trial - to find the truth about Maggie Sinclair - is merely the public statement: Monteith needs to convict because he needs to win as prosecutor because he is the laird.
He twists religious teaching to aid him by saying that it is his compassion for Maggie's soul which must see him convict her to death by hanging and burning.
He wants to dominate Maggie sexually, too, but is foiled, and avoids responsibility for his own actions by telling Maggie that her wickedness leads to his temptation. It is arguments and manipulations like this that swirl around in the courtroom, too, with Maggie and her sister Beth (Alison Telfer) the innocents caught in the eye of this dreadful storm.
The tale's end arrives by means of the matriarchal trio, who form the opinion that gossip and opinion forming wrongly accused Maggie Sinclair of witchcraft; they point the finger at Lizzie instead, and in a dramatic twist to the story, the townsfolk rise to exonerate Maggie.
Mob anger follows: Atholl is beaten to death, Lizzie desperately knifes Maggie and in turn is impaled on her own blade in a struggle with guards; Monteith, who has deftly stayed out of the mob's way now emerges as its anger abates and commands. them to obey him.
The story ends with the Satanic figure of the laird proclaiming, 'I am Monteith!' and readying to lead the community down a path of persecution.
MSD got everything right with the production-voices reaching across the town hall, lines excellently delivered, lighting used to good effect, characters' positioning on the stage, a wholly appropriate sparse stage and the Young Garioch Fiddlers behind a ghostly white screen, beneath a noose.
Scott Armstrong put in a very good performance, so did the matriarchs, and Beth, too; the capering young lads were also good..
Oh yeah – MSD Productions, if you didn’t already know, is a theatre group for youngsters. But the way they did this production belied their age. A busy Inverurie town hall saw a very good show.
Director: Rhona Mitchell Musical Director: Ewen Richie
Properly described as a play with music, "Outcast" revolved around the puritanical 17th Century Scotland at the height of the witch hunts. Consisting of a simply set stage with aprons, much of the atmosphere came from some effective lighting and a menacing contribution from the Garioch Junior Fiddlers coupled with some clever arrangements from MD Ewen Ritchie. As the main character, the manipulative laird Andrew Monteith, Scott Armstrong gave a mature and powerful performance and provided a perfect counterfoil to Graeme Cumming as Sheriff Atholl. There was a splendid partnering of Pamela Barrie and
Alison Telfer as the Sinclair sisters, holding together in adversity, whilst Eloise Thomson gave a malicious and spiteful performance as Lizzie Glaitness. The play concentrated very much on characterisation, none more so than the unreliable witness of Alanna Petrie, ably (?) supported by a none too bright Danielle Pirie. This tale of mass hysteria gave plenty scope for some strong acting, and the Company gave a strong and reactive performance.
An Evening of Senility
by Bruce Fraser
Director: Rhona Mitchell
Long established MSD Productions have only recently transferred to this Region and this was my first visit to one of their shows. Due to other NODA commitments, Rhona apprehensively invited me along to their dress rehearsal - though she need have had no apprehension. This was a most enjoyable production from the pen of Bruce Fraser, which allowed the young cast (29 from age 11-15) the chance to develop characters, movement and voice projection. Injected with plenty of humour, the majority of it aimed at the theatre itself (horror!!) this was a production that mocked virtually everything - and input virtually every character actor you've ever seen - a tour de force on stage characterisation. Whether it was the `professional' actor -Katherine Morland, (I was in Coriolanus you know?), the bitchy dance group gossips, Anissia Kerr/Ruth Durno, (you see her, well...) or the "piano lady" who could only play Eurovision Song Contest. Hits, Laura Sleigh - all really worked hard on their characters - not forgetting Natalie Henderson as a Bonnie Langford look-alike, complete with bunches , lithping her way splendidly through the show. The change of mood with the death of the latter character got great reaction and dead faces from eve one , complemented by effective lighting.
The characters were just a bit too close to the truth at times and to quote one, It was never like this at the National! - But of course, it was!