City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Nancy’s return to Edinburgh or is it Clarinda?


By Editor - Posted on 10 December 2007

More than two centuries after she first arrived as a waif of a girl of seventeen, Nancy McLehose returns to the capital in 2008, the 250th anniversary of her birth.

Nancy McLehose is better known as Clarinda, the woman who said “no” to Robert Burns and she will soon be seen once again in Auld Reekie’s old town, at the Netherbow Theatre, part of the Scottish Storytelling Centre in John Knox House on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, 400 yards from Canongate Cemetery where she is buried and where a plaque is erected in her memory.

Her return is in the new Scottish musical play “Clarinda”, which not only tells the fascinating story of Nancy McLehose and of her four-year platonic love affair
with Robert Burns, that led to the exchange of the famous Clarinda and Sylvander letters and inspired the poet to write “Ae Fond Kiss”, but also looks at the life of Scotland’s National Bard from a very different angle.

“Clarinda” will enjoy it’s world premiere on Burns Night, 25 January 2008 and after an eleven performance run at the Netherbow will go on a Scottish tour visiting Glasgow, Cumbernauld, St Andrews and Aberdeen. In Glasgow, it will be performed at St Andrews In The Square, a former Church where Nancy McLehose was married in 1776

“Clarinda” was performed, to considerable critical praise, as a showcase of music at the “Burns an’ a’ that Festival” in Ayr in May 2006 but this is the first full scale stage production. It will have an all-star Scottish cast including two actors who in recent times have appeared in starring roles in Les Miserables in London’s West End.

The musical play has been written by Mike Gibb whose previous works include “A Land Fit For Heroes”, “Mother of All the Peoples” (which in March 2007 became the first ever musical to be performed in the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood), “Five Pound And Twa Bairns” (which was most recently performed in June 2007 at Dundee REP) and “Sunday Mornings On Dundee Law” (which premiered in May 2007 at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews).

The music is by Celtic composer Kevin Walsh who released a highly acclaimed solo album “Clarinda’s Reply” in 2006.

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What a wonderful new musical, a truly superb cast who revealed the story beautifully. The play portrays the complete story from the point of view of Nancy (magnificently portrayed by Sabrina) and ends leaving no unanswered questions in the minds of the audience. Clearly well researched and written closely to follow the letters as well as fleshing the story of Sylvander and Clarinda out in a very realistic, humorous and believable manner. The music fits superbly in with the whole ambience of the story, from the extremely catchy “Robert Burns The Poet” and the beautiful “Clarinda’s Reply” to an absolutely outstanding unaccompanied version of “Ae Fond Kiss” by George. Well done to all the cast, crew and all involved in bringing this outstanding musical to the stage. Certainly inspired more than one of the audience to attend a further performance!  Undoubtedly one not to be missed.