Drama At The Dockers, Leith Dockers Club, Review
Company: Citadel Arts Group
Production: Beyond The Ash Lagoon: Susan Chaney (writer), Liz Hare (director). Nan and Rita and The Holy Grail: Carolyn Lincoln (writer), Adam Tomkins (director). Field of Opportunity: Jim Brown (writer), Liz Hare (director). All: Stewart Emm (sound design), Allan Rhynas (lighting). Flier by Eric Robinson.
Performers: Beyond The Ash Lagoon: Audrey Jenkinson (Cat), Rachel Amey (Millie), Suzanne Dance (various), Adam Tomkins (various). Nan and Rita and The Holy Grail: Lynne Maccallum Hall (Nan), Estrid Barton (Rita). Field of Opportunity: Stephanie Falls (Bella), Megan Gamber (Jess), Ian Smith (Danny), Kirsty Strain (Mary & Holly Berry).
Running time: 60mins
Citadel Arts Group brings a triple-bill entitled Drama At The Dockers, performing for the ninth consecutive year at the lively, community-focused Leith Festival.
Artistic Director Liz Hare has been leading the Workers’ Educational Association Playwrights Workshops, supporting members to share their stories and memories, unlock their creativity and develop their creative writing skills. Emerging out of their latest programme are three very different scripts, performed as rehearsed readings over three days at the Leith Dockers Club.
Edinburgh International Fringe Festival at the Dockers Club Leith
Remembering the Fifties
Dancing With Mrs
played during the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the Dockers Club, Leith, received a four star review from Lisa Sibbald
"Dancing with Mrs Murphy is part of Citadel Arts Group’s “remembering the 1950s” project, and was written by one of their members, Vincent Maguire.
Rose, the “Mrs Murphy” of the title, escaped from a life of poverty and disgrace in Ireland to come to live in Leith before the Second World War, and now, in 1956, she is on the brink of seeing her greatest dream fulfilled…or is she?
The play explores the relationships between mothers and sons at a time of great social change. Both Rose Murphy and her employer, Mrs MacCarthy, who have come from very different backgrounds, have great ambitions for their sons, but in the course of one day in the MacCarthy household the lives of both families are altered drastically and many illusions are shattered.
Laverne Edmonds (Rose Murphy), Debbie Cannon (Mrs MacCarthy) and Sean Fitzpatrick (Dan MacCarthy) all give extremely good performances in this dark drama, and the script is excellent, with many well-observed lines".
The first performance is Beyond The Ash Lagoon, written by Susan Chaney and directed by Liz Hare. Themes of grief and loss, and the layering of changes over time that impact on the landscape and the people within it, are explored through the relationship of two sisters. Now in their fifties, the two meet in a remote cottage in Cornwall in a place filled with memories of their childhood. One sister is trying to come to terms with the sudden death of her husband, but both find they have overwritten memories of the past with false narratives that need to be reconciled.
Time shifts back and forth as the dialogue in the present is interspersed with flash-backs from the past. Others characters drift in and out, taking up the narration of past events, connecting and locking them firmly within the sense of this particular place that, like the two sisters, has undergone change and loss: the now-ruined tin mine, the all-but disappeared fishing industry.
The narrative parts of the writing, with descriptions of the trees, gorse and bracken, the sounds of the sky and the sea, is vivid and lyrical and beautifully evoked by both Suzanne Dance and Adam Tomkins in their various roles. The dialogue between the two sisters is slick and punchy, played with humour and pathos by Audrey Jenkinson and Rachel Amy. This is a play with many layers, leaving the themes lingering in the air long after the actors have left the stage.
The second performance, Nan and Rita and The Holy Grail, written by Carolyn Lincoln and directed Adam Tomkins, is a total contrast. A two-hander between Lynne Maccallum Hall (known to many from Still Game off the telly!) as Nan, and Estrid Barton as Rita, this is bawdy fun and frolics from start to finish. Opening in a supermarket café and finishing down the community centre, the two potty-mouthed OAPs gossip about their neighbours – one of them found the Holy Grail on the bus on the way back from Straiton, cue hilarious anecdote – and discuss cakes, love and lust. The two women match each other for laughs and nonsense all the way, in a riotous hour of pure entertainment that ends with them pulling blokes up on stage for a bit of a dance and passing round the nibbles, the music blaring, the party atmosphere complete.
Finally there is Field of Opportunity, written by Jim Brown and again directed by Liz Hare. When teenage Jess escapes from London to see Auntie Bella, she gets more than she bargained for when she finds it’s tattie-picking season. For Jess and the other women it’s dirty, back-breaking work, but the days are also full of camaraderie and teasing banter, the evenings spent sharing whisky and memories.
This is a strong cast, once again refreshingly dominated by female voices, with Kirsty Strain in particular showing great versatility as she switches between the seemingly strait-laced, moved-up-in-the-world Ms Berry and the raucous old crone Mary. The dialogue zips along and the occasional rousing tattie-song keeps the spirits aloft. The ending, however, felt like we’d left the story part-way through – perhaps there is more of this story to come?
The Leith Dockers Club, as always, is the perfect venue for these play shorts. The audience is almost wholly local, genuinely engaged and warmly enthusiastic about seeing live theatre smack in the heart of their own communities.