Bonnie romp through history

13th October 2000 at 01:00
Many teachers reading that Hopscotch theatre company is on tour with Jacobites! will need to read no further, especially when they know that writer Ross Stenhouse and director and songwriter Grant Smeaton are in charge.

Hopscotch is now as familiar a part of the primary educational landscape as wall decoration. Its extraordinary customer loyalty - a few primaries have had 30 visits or more - is based on the company's unchanging formula of facts and fun for all the school in 60 minutes, with no need for buses.

The current schedule lists two shows a day, five days a week to November 10. This production purrs neatly off the assembly line, with maybe a little more attitude in the script and a few more refinements in Rita Winters' wardrobe of regal and Highland wear, most noticeably in the hairpieces. The company seems to have as much fun with the wigs as it has with the Whigs, not least Stenhouse with his gorgeous curls putting the bonny into Bonnie ('Does my bum look big in this frock coat?') Dundee.

He also has first crack at the trademark Hopscotch jokes, beloved of children making sense of strange words: the first Jacobite soldiers think he's calling them "jaffa caks" and they mistake their rendezvous at Killiecrankie for one with Widow Twankey.

Raymond Burke, veteran that he is, romps through 10 roles, strumming the guitar and blowing a mean bugle to start the play. He also had the best impromptu. As Hopscotch was representing the indecisive battle of Sheriffmuir, two policemen walked through the school hall. Moments later he reported the news of the stalemate: "There wis some fighting but then the polis came."

Smeaton's two additions to the Jacobite repertoire get a considerable boost from the mandolin of ceilidh bandsman Alasdair Macrae, making a fairly characteristic Hopscotch debut in the roles of James VII, a Jacobite, Breadalbane, Glenlyon, Argyle, Alberoni and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Sylvia Rome, like the rest of the cast, changes roles at the drop of a wig, switching her voice from the stately Queen Anne to the douce Flora MacDonald, with others in between, in this tale of 60 years. At the same time, historical details cascade for a rumbustious hour, from the Act of Indulgence to Macdonald of Glencoe being late with his oath of loyalty, to Prince Charlie's escape to France.

Hopscotch, tel 0141 440 2025

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