City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Tales From The Golden Slipper


By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 13 August 2007

3
Show details
Company: 
St. Magnus Festival Players
Running time: 
90mins
Production: 
Penny Aberdein (director), Alan Plater (writer), Peter Maxwell Davies (music), David Griffith (flute), Kenny Ritch (accordian), Iain Campbell (piano), Leslie Burgher (set design), Jude Barnes (stage manager), Chris Giles (lighting designer), Sarah Wallhead (costume designer)
Performers: 
Graham Garson (Willie Fraquahar), Carol Taylor (Morag), Gareth Williams (Al), Valerie Bleakley (Vera), Jim Chalmers (George), Iain Campbell (Ian), Naismi Flett (Mrs Farquahar), Tommy Wylie (Sgt Archibald) Christopher Matthews (Sherrif Keith)

'A good earthly place to be, blessed by the hidden sun'.
Thus the late George Mackay Brown on the shebeen known as 'The Golden Slipper', run by the redoubtable Willie Farquahar in the isolated community of Stenness among the Orkney Islands.
Mackay Brown ought to have known, since he was there on probably more than one
occasion.

'Tales of the Golden Slipper' is as much a celebration of a way of
life and looking at the world which has vanished from many places, as it is
about one individual's battle with conformity and bureaucracy. As the mock
trial of Willie for selling drink without a liquor licence proceeds on its
comic way, we begin to understand that it's a minor skirmish in an on-going
struggle with a mind-set intent on applying the normative even where it's
neither appropriate nor desirable.

In spite, and perhaps because of this, 'Tales from the Golden
Slipper' remains a cheery wee number, its fine cast of community actors clearly
enjoying the opportunity to reprise the success of Alan Plater's script, first
performed as part of the St. Magnus Festival.

Willie Farquahar ran
an unlicensed drinking establishment for many years, his later brushes with the
law earning him the red-top accolade of 'Orkney's Al Capone'. Stenness is
hardly Chicago, however, and Willie's principal crime seems to have been to
thumb his nose at legality once too often. Although one suspects the play of
taking a slightly rose-tinted look at its subject matter, the fact Willie's
legend has long survived both premises and patron
suggest Willie's good-hearted ebullience is more than merely Plater's
conceit.

Graham Garson as Willie gives a fine performance which
carries the show along, and he is ably aided and abetted (sometimes in more
ways than one) by a cast working as a good community company should; supporting
each other in driving the show forward. Jim Chalmers as 'George' and Iain
Campbell as 'Ian' offer a finely drawn pair of squabbling pals, and if they
remind any audience members of two deceased Islands poets, that would, of
course, be their own business.

It's a little unfair, however, to single out individuals in
what is clearly and very genuinely a community effort. Even if Plater appears a
little unsure where he's taken us by the end of the show, the journey has still
been an enjoyable one.

Time 10.15am, 13-17 August


Copyright Bill Dunlop 200, published on EdinburghGuide.com August 2007