The Fire and The Thistle Review

Edinburgh Festival review
Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Carpe Diem Productions
Iain Hughes (director), Peter D Robinson (composer)
Jon Carridge (king), Kirsty Anderson (Gillie), Duncan Robertson (David Seaton), Morag McDougall (Lilian Seaton), Julie Stirling (Queen), Peter Robinson (Bothwell), Iain Hughes (Kerr)
Running time

This production is set in the late 16th century Scotland set against the background
of witchcraft and a plot against James V1. In Presbyterian dress of black, the play opens on Hogmanay with a rousing song addressing issues of friendship and letting the old year out and the New Year in. With local references to towns and villages of East Lothian and the issue of pardons for witches being topical to-day in Prestonpans, the show is always interesting for the history lesson provided.

The main investigator, David Seaton (Duncan Robertson) dominates
the early scenes along with his wife, Lilian played by Morag McDougall who is
suspicious about the motives of her husband in taking an interest in the
activities of his servant Gillie Duncan).

The best solos are with this part and Kirsty Anderson has a very good
voice, used to good effect when questioning if her master has other motives for
his interest in her. The story transfers to the court of James VI
as the pursuit of plotters and witches moves to the capital.

The style of the
play and its music is that of the period, which leads to scenes that are a bit
static. The King (John Carridge) is depicted as a complex character and is
central to the story thereafter. The King, Bothwell and Kerr all portray their
parts well but the almost cameo part of Agnes Sampson (Linda Robertson) catches
the eye.

The music is good throughout supported by a small orchestra and the
chorus is very well rehearsed. A couple of members have developed bits of "business" and that might be adopted by other cast members to breathe attitude
into the big numbers. Having seen plays about such trials, this particular show
lacks the kind of tension that I would have expected as it reaches its conclusion.

Times: til Sat 22 August, 7.45pm