*** 3 Stars
“Wears its Scottish Heart on its Sleeves!”
Following a lengthy development period and a successful run at the Eden Court Theatre Inverness in 2022 Morna Young’s “The Stamping Ground” embarks on its first Scottish Tour. Telling the story of Euan (Ali Watt) and Annie (Jenny Hulse) who return from London to the highland village of Glenbeag. Bringing with them there 16-year-old daughter Fiona (Caitlin Forbes) who is recovering from a serious attack whilst in London. The plot follows the family struggling to hold it together in a place they struggle to remember and yet is changing all round them as the impact of financial and environmental change take their toll on the family, village and its people.
Morna Young script based on a concept by Alan B McLeod has much to offer even when it strays in soap opera and light comedy, but by using the music of Runrig (with gorgeous arrangements from musical director John Kielty) gives it serious emotional depths and strong Scottish flavour throughout.
While the thirteen strong ensembles cast and musicans deliver well, especially vocally, the script is somewhat clunky and over long at least 10 minutes could be cut from each act to quicken the pace, the production feels its two hour and ten minute run time. Runrigs music remains timeless and its beautifully performed and sung in the show making it worthy of ticket on its own but the show feels like it’s trying to emulate Stephen Green Horn’s “Sunshine on Leith” or the stellar Royal Lyceum theatre production of “Local Hero” but never quite gets to that level of engagement with its audience.
Production wise the show is a triumph, Kenneth McLeods stunning Costume and Set design is a remarkable achievement transporting the audience from the heart of Edinburgh to the Heart of the highlands. This is boosted by Simon Wilkinson’s sublime lighting design and Garry Boyle’s intimate sound design brings the best out in both performers and story alike.
The Stamping Grounds is a truly Scottish Collaboration of the arts with Raw Material and Eden Court Inverness wearing there Scottish beating hearts very much on their sleeves and the characters capture the angst, emotion, joy and fun of life in Stirling style. The overall show does still feel like it’s still very much a work in development and somewhere deep inside the Stomping Ground is a show with so much to offer and as it matures it may well go onto greatness.
For the moment what we have is an engaging testament to Scottish ideals with worthy writing, stunning production values and the awe inspiring music of Runrig, music that comes from the heart and Transends a generations, as the curtain fell to the strains of “ Loch Lomond” it was clear the audience were ready to jump from their seats in celebration of the place we all call home and that alone makes getting along to the Festival Theatre the place to be for this truly deep night of musical theatre.
The Stamping Ground, Festival Theatre Edinburgh runs until Saturday 27th May 2023, For further info go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/all-shows/the-stamping-ground/2087