City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Walden Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 27 August 2009

Show details
Dovecot Studios
Magnetic North theatre company
Running time: 
Henry Thoreau (writer), Nicholas Bone (playwright and director), Sans Façon (designers) , Ros Steen (voice and dialect work), Claire Semple and Kay Hesford (Stage management), Nick Millar (production manager), Iain Kettles (set builder), Maryam Hamidi (assistant director), Lorna Duguid (producer)
Ewan Donald

Walden is an account of an ‘experiment in simple living' that was carried out and documented by Henry David Thoreau, a 27 year old Harvard graduate, failed teacher and student of Eastern philosophy. For two years from 1854, he attempted to live entirely by his own resources in woods near his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts.

In the light open room of the Dovecote Studios, the audience is seated on high-backed wooden benches, set in an almond shape, but otherwise reminiscent of a kirk. In this one man show, there is no pontification but a direct and open communication with the audience by the young actor. With no more props than a heap of sand, a staff and a few stones, he narrates a life of simplicity in a consistent US accent.

(Ewan Donald graduated at Queen Margaret, his career to date has been in Scotland and the Company has a dialect coach, so I have deduced that he did not use his own accent.)

Living apart from world, while thoroughly of the world, becoming acutely conscious of colours and senses and revelling in the moment was shown to be something to aspire to. Although Thoreau returned to civilised life, his message was to live in the present, find yourself and follow dreams.

This play about a singlar, thoughtful man is a singlar thought provoking experience and particularly timely. Thoreau's bravery in facing solitude in a fresh environment is reflected in the actor's facing the audience so starkly and a lesson to us all.

Times: 29 August, then touring til October