Now’s the Hour’ is the Scottish Youth Theatre’s take on the Referendum debate thus far, but (perhaps thankfully for some) it’s about much more than that.
In the space of an hour, these lively and lucid young actors touch on Scottish identity, history and education as well as their aspirations for their nation. It’s a frequently entertaining as well as inspiring journey they embark on, and they consistently deliver their messages with a passion the current debate has all too often lacked.
From the stillness of its opening moments through to its cleverly constructed musical finale this is a show which aims to please, but not by compromising its obvious integrity.
The company begin by telling us they’ve been asked to write letters to their more adult selves, expressing their hopes for their own and their country’s future, before unpackaging something of the Scottish past and present and its impact on their lives.
It’s an instructive hour as well as a frequently entertaining one, occasionally punctuated with music and song, a ceilidh but mercifully without a jabot or tartan sash in sight.
A ten-minute tour of Scottish history (all too frequently elided over in the classroom) manages to point out how many attempts at Anglo-Scottish union were made prior to 1707, possibly a useful corrective for those imaging that a vote in September settles any questions permanently.
Although refreshingly confident in its identity, ‘Now’s the Hour’ does not show its political colours except in its acceptance of differing opinions. It’s here, more than anywhere that the differences of contemporary Scotland heighten. It’s perhaps natural for young people to be more aware of inequality and ‘unfairness’, but in Scotland this aversion seems innate.
What’s even more striking now is that outspokenness is a commonplace. If there once was a ‘Scots Crisis of Confidence’ as Carol Craig has claimed, it’s a condition in remission if not complete eradication, and certainly not one this bright and beguiling company seem likely to suffer from now or in the future. One wishes them all well, in hopes to see them in other roles before too long.
Stand III, York Place, 1-25 August, 13.30; £10 (£9)