And Then Come The Nightjars
11th April 2017
Byre Theatre, St Andrews
Later this year, the grand old tradition of the theatre in Perth is about to bounce into the 21st century with the reopening of a refurbished ‘temple to the stage’ that has cost quite a lot of money, but is almost ready to go. Since its closure 2014, award-winning Richard Murphy Architects have been crafting the theatre & by October it will have reopened, when 90 percent of the Scottish population will be only 90 minutes from what should be Scotland’s most pleasant theatrical space. That doesn’t mean Perth Theatre has been idle, however, & for the past three years has continued its rural program, taking actors out to the smaller stages & towns, as doing right now with And Then Came The Nightjars. A charming tale of rural friendship by the West Country’s Bea Roberts, in an earlier interview with the Mumble one of its two actors, Nigel Hastings, described Nightjars as ‘a beautifully written play, perhaps the best new play I have ever been in. It is about love, loss and friendship, and how rural life is changing.’ The stage is an inch-perfectly reproduced farmer’s barn, in which are played out four vignettes from the later lives of Hastings & his co-actor, Finlay Welsh.
Blending James Herriot & Last of the Summer Wine, but chucking in a dungheap full of grit, what follows is a sublime snapshot of two men bonded by a long life friendship. Each of the four scenes is separated in the same way Petrarch turned his sonnets to Laura; sudden shifts in story & mood which developed our players & effortlessly forwarded the story. Hastings & Welsh were rehearsed to precision, flawless performances in which they took turns to lead the action as in any good friendship. One moment in particular had me riveted to my seat; when Finlay Welsh in his thick West Country action opened a box of prize-winning cattle rosettas, going through them one-by-one with excited drunken pathos. As he did so, although she wasn’t on stage, I could sense the presence of his dead wife in the fictional yet remarkably real back story of his character. Overall, a quick-paced yet touching comedy-laced piece, whose choice has proven Perth Theatre is ready to reclaim its distinguished place in the Scottish scene.
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen
And Then Come The Nightjars;
19 / 20 April : Inchyra Arts Club
21 April : Blair Atholl Village Hall
22 April : Aberfeldy Town Hall
26 / 27 April : Birnam Arts Centre
28 April : Blairgowrie Town Hall
29 April : Strathearn Arts Space, Creiff