The Siege Of Leith Theatre Review

Submitted by Alex Eades on Fri, 18 Jun '10 11.26pm
Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Citadel Arts Group
Liz Hare (Director), Sandra Ramsay (Stage Manager), Stewart Emm (Sound Designer), Sara Keating (Lighting), Sarah Laurenson (Costumes)
Ian Watt (Malky & Rat Catcher), Caroline Mackellar (Female Servant, Antoinette and Maggie's Mother), Mairi Jayne Weir (Mary Of Guise, Maggie and Serving Wench), Mark Kydd (Scottish Lord 1, Cardinal Beaton, Archibald, English Captain and Tom), Rob Flett (Scottish Lord 2, King James V, Lieutenant, Charles and Jack), Leo Reid (Earl Of Hertford and Town Crier)
Running time

I am deeply ashamed to admit this, but I have never seen anything at the Leith Festival before in all of my time here in Edinburgh. In fact, it is rare that I go to Leith at all these days. No particular reason. Maybe it’s because it’s all downhill and I’m worried that I will not be able to crawl my way back up to the surface again.

Or maybe I’m just a blubbering coward, intimidated by its somewhat gruff personality. Its reputation as a rough diamond being of little comfort to this shy, retiring water flower.

But nothing of any good ever comes easy. The Siege Of Leith was worth every nervous step down the famous Walk. It is the pot of gold at the end of the road.

The Protestant English are standing alongside their auld enemy, the Scots, to fight off the Catholic French troops from Leith. The ordinary people are confused, scared and starving, whilst the soldiers are ill-equipped and unsure of what exactly they are fighting for. Leith is in chaos and uncertain to survive.

It is a rare thing that you come out of a theatre with a beaming smile to light up your face. It is an even rarer thing for that to be accompanied with a sharper mind. The Siege Of Leith is indeed both thoroughly entertaining and remarkably educational.

There is a definite air of fun about the whole production. A time-travelling journalist and a cunning rat catcher (both performed by the hilarious Ian Watt) are used to wonderful comic affect throughout, littering the audience with great one-liners for fun. Indeed, all of the characters are gifted with smart and funny dialogue form beginning to end and is an absolute joy.

The performances are all bright and dazzling, though the clear stars of the show are the two female leads, Caroline Mackellar and Mairi Jayne Weir. Playing multiple roles, both light hearted and serious, these are two actresses that you could keep watching for many an hour. An absolute delight to behold.

It must be said that there were quite a few technical hitches throughout that were quite off-putting and, at times, downright irritating. And, though perhaps a rather odd complaint, the piece could have done with being a little longer, with some interesting characters perhaps not getting the time they deserve.

That aside, it was all a journey worth taking... and I may even puff up my chest and have a wee trek down that end of the toon some time in the not too distant future.

Showing as part of the Leith Festival. Further show on Sat 19 June 2.30pm