15th November 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Drama group proves less can be more

It is difficult to know what to expect when an amateur group takes on a well-known play, but Islesburgh Drama Group’s performance of The 39 Steps last week was quite simply a triumph.

The group’s interpretation of the John Buchan classic was hilarious from beginning to end and the sell-out audience at the Garrison Theatre loved every minute, as the claps and cheers proved.

On the run: Character Richard Hannay tries to outwit the police. Photo: Dave Donaldson

On the run: Character Richard Hannay tries to outwit the police. Photo: Dave Donaldson

The far-fetched story starts and ends in a palatial London flat and romps through a series of improbable adventures en route to the Highlands of Scotland. And, incredibly, a tiny cast of only four actors carried the whole thing off with aplomb.

While main man Richard Hannay was played by one actor, Lawrence Radley, throughout, all the other parts were taken by the three remaining actors. And this feat required swift changes of clothes, headgear and especially accents as the action moved north.

Actor Andy Long in particular appeared in so many guises it was difficult to keep count, and at one time had different hats in each hand to accompany alternate sentences, to great comic effect. And all the cast were completely in character throughout the fast-paced play.

The reduced cast played in a minimalist stage set, which again was very successful and served to illustrate that less really can be more. The revolving door indicating scene changes worked well, the toy train and dog which graced the stage at various points worked wonders in depicting the action – and got a lot of laughs.

In some scenes pyrotechnics, lighting, including strobe lighting and music conjured up the atmosphere remarkably well, grabbing the audience’s attention. And at every possible moment the comic potential of a scene was exploited by producer and director Morag Mouat, whether by a moving window (you had to be there), a mispronunciation or a costume.

The John Buchan classic has stood the test of time, been through many iterations on film and stage – one seen by this reviewer at the West End – but has never been so enjoyable.

More in this week’s paper.

About Rosalind Griffiths

I am a Shetland Times reporter covering news, including health stories, and features. I have been in Shetland for more than 30 years.

View other stories by »

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.