City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

MacPherson's Rant Review

By Gordon Clayton - Posted on 22 October 2009

Show Details
Gaby Pavone (director), John Ward (writer/producer), Simon Hanson and James McCutcheon (Musical Supervision)
Robert Moyes (MacPherson), Lesley Ward (Bess), Ian Aldred (Laird)
Running time: 

A story of love, treachery and dysfunctional families set in a historical context – all the ingredients of a good musical. Add in a Scottish flavour with songs from Rabbie Burns and past experience could make you wary! MacPherson’s Rant, which had its World Premier in the Churchill Theatre last night, however, does not fall into the trap of being kitsch or depending on Scottish stereotyping. This is a full length production with all the touches you would expect from a West End show.

The music set to Burns and other traditional sources is skilfully blended into the storyline and seamlessly intertwined with original music.

The storyline involves the meeting of a journeyman travelling north to Banff to find his father, attending the street fair and its love at first sight with a young woman who is pledged to the local laird by her father who fears for his three daughter’s economic survival after his death.

The complications kick in as they do and the plot develops with a strong mixture of songs, love, drama and fight scenes. The use of Scots even to a native ear takes a little adjustment in the early scenes but generally the diction is sufficiently crisp and clear.

The main characters are all very strong, Macpherson, Bess and the Laird all have a considerable presence particularly Robert Moyes in the title role. Susan Semple as the daughter with learning difficulties also catches the eye.

The cast is a mixture of actors from local companies some with formal training and others without, but this is an all round performance of professional standard.

Only occasionally does that slip, but this was a very good first night both for the actors and the technical crew who have devised a very clever set that copes with the many changes that the script demands.

The ensemble pieces were very good and it’s a pity that there were so few scenes for them to excel in. The wedding scene before the interval has all the hallmarks of the big finish, but the vehicle to contrast the bride’s reality versus her fantasy was clever and gave the audience something to think about at a point when you want to leave them gasping for more.

The musical arrangements are very clever and I particularly liked the use of the song I knew as Coulter’s Candy. The sound, lighting and sets complement a well honed production from cast, musicians and crew.

The glossy programme perhaps has too much information about the plot and could act as a ‘spoiler’.

John Ward, writer and producer is making this show available to societies and companies. Maybe he should be asking Cameron McIntosh, the laird of the West End, to have a look?

Runs to Sat @ 7-30pm