Touring – reviewed at Darlington Hippodrome
In the very remote Highlands of Scotland, on the Applecross Peninsula, in the even more remote village of Coillie Ghillie lies the Croft. The childhood holiday home of Laura and her family. No phone signals, no broadband and no wifi but plenty of folklore and tradition.
Laura and her married lover Suzanne arrive at the Croft in the present day for a weekend together. Seemingly the first time Laura has visited since her mother Ruth died there, giving in to the cancer savaging her body. Much older Suzanne is worried that the remoteness means she won’t be in touch with her soon to be ex-husband and two teenage sons, who Laura was the baby sitter for. Interweaved in this is Ruth, living her final weeks in the croft with local ghillie David, whilst Laura is at home with her father, clergyman Tom. And in 1870 we have Enid, who took in unmarried pregnant Eilene, who are to be evicted due to the highland clearances.
Only Enid (Gwen Taylor) is not double cast. Lucy Doyle moves between Laura and Eileen seamlessly, even with the costume changes. Caroline Harker plays both lover Suzanne and mother Ruth, commenting upon their similarities when Suzanne sees a photo of Ruth. Drew Cain is both ghillie David and the illicit lover of Eilene; whilst Simon Roberts is Tom, Laura’s father, and Patrick the father of Eilene – both clergymen.
Whilst billed as a thriller, it’s difficult to tell if this is a family saga – full of middle class angst, staring into the distance, swearing for the sake of it and wine drinking. Or is it a spooky horror – with a few fabulous moments of fright. Certainly the set (Adrian Linford) and the sound (Max Pappenheim) and lighting (Chris Davey) add atmosphere.
Writer Ali Milles’ debut play gives a promise of some great work yet come.