I went to Edinburgh yesterday, to a world premiere at the Lyceum Theatre. The play was The Last Witch, based on a true story about the execution of the last witch in Scotland – actually, the last execution of a witch in Scotland. That’s more like it! The basis of the play was the accusation and execution of an alleged witch in 1723(ish) in Dornoch, a town on the north east coast of Scotland beyond Inverness. There is very little detail of the actual event in existence, so the playwright has taken what she could find, added her own interpretation and written an exceedingly good storyline, about Janet who is accused by her neighbour of putting a curse on some of his beasts, they subsequently dying. I mustn’t spoil it for you by telling you the whole story in case you get the chance to see it sometime, but suffice to say Janet’s case is investigated, and though at first she is seen to be a whimsical eccentric, an affair with the sheriff leads to her arrest, accused of being in league with the devil. She is imprisoned and tortured and eventually executed. The actors, especially the woman who played Janet, were excellent, and the stage effects terrific, especially when conveying the execution by burning! That was very cleverly managed.
The Lyceum Theatre is one of the two main old traditional theatres in Edinburgh, and I love it! It was here that many actors well known over the last few decades made their first stage appearances. I remember seeing Tom Conti here in a production of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped many years ago, before he made it big time! It’s not a huge theatre but that adds to its charm. An enormous chandelier hangs from the domed ceiling above the stalls. I expect people in the back of the upper circle/the gods might find it a distraction.
The photos were taken without flash, and are not very great, but it gives you an idea of the place. (I was warned off taking pictures of the stage as I might be from a rival theatre company pinching ideas!)
I must try and go to the theatre more often. Sometimes I go to the Eastgate theatre in Peebles, but I have neglected going to Edinburgh for quite some time. The programme for the rest of the 2009/10 season is in my bag, so I must look at what’s on, and go again.
Talk again soon.