CALUM’S ROAD To 28 June.

by David Harrower from the book by Roger Hutchinson.

Tour to 28 June 2013.
Runs 1hr 35min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 8 June at Traverse Theatre (Traverse 1) Edinburgh.

Quiet yet vivid picture of human determination.
It’s a good basis for a folk-story or legend, but it happened – an example of what politicians are now labelling localism, and a rare example of individual determination.

Sometime in the mid-1960s, at some season of one of those years (a folk-tale’s ‘Once Upon A Time’ is already looming), Calum MacLeod, one of the few, and growing fewer, people living on the island of Raasey, between mainland Scotland and Skye, became fed up with the authorities’ refusal to complete the road to his home. So he constructed the final miles himself.

The deliberate depopulation of the Highland Clearances lie behind Calum’s determination, confirming his fury at being ignored by the powers-that-are.

He never sat down as he worked with wheelbarrow, pick and shovel. More stuff of legend, and seen in retrospect as island father and son Iain and Alex journey back for a night to oversee their Raasey property.

They find most people have left the island; only a lone blogger has moved in. Even Calum’s daughter Julia had to leave when she went to school.

As scenes move between the father and son’s brief return and Calum’s road-building life, both the road he constructed and the natural beauty of the island are projected behind, while Alasdair Macrae’s music adds emotional reflection to natural beauty.

Playwright David Harrower interweaves scenes skilfully, catching the steady pace yet energetic course of island life. Director Gerry Mulgrew, whose Communicado Theatre company co-produces with the National Theatre Scotland, can always create fireworks of physical theatre; here he stays true to an elegiac, unsentimental style that infuses everyday reality with a quiet intensity.

Yet his theatricality is firmly contained within the lyrical intensity as, among a strong ensemble cast, Iain Macrae’s Calum goes about his business with quiet determination, breaking-out only occasionally – scaring sheep to see where they run; if any creatures know the best route for a road, it’s the local herbivores.

When we’re told Calum never sits, he’s seated in his wheelbarrow. When the moment’s revisited we discover why, in an elegiac moment that’s a tribute to an independent, spirited life.

Young Julia: Angela Hardie.
Iain: Lewis Howden.
Julia/Lexie: Ceit Kearney.
Calum: Iain Macrae.
Alex/Young Iain: Ben Winger.
Musician: Alasdair Macrae.

Director: Gerry Mulgrew.
Designer: Gordon Davidson.
Lighting: Sergey Jakovsky.
Composer/Musical Director: Alasdair Macrae.
Video: John McGeoch.
Movement/Assistant director: Malcolm Shields.

2013-06-14 17:22:56

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