The Sean Connery of your dreams
The 7:84 theatre company's latest production, Caledonia Dreaming by David Greig, was premi red at the Traverse in Edinburgh last month, and is now touring Scotland until July 20. Accompanying it are a series of workshops about Scotland and the play.
The workshops on Scotland are designed for participants to explore and express views and emotions about where they live and what their country means to them. Open to all groups and levels of drama experience, including schools, these will produce artwork and new writing that will be displayed at the venues on the tour, accumulating a collection of ideas from across the country.
The play workshops will explore the creation of Caledonia Dreaming to give participants (aged 16 and over) an insight into the working practice of the company through devising and improvisation. Both workshops are led by John Heraghty (7:84's outreach director) and Natalie Wilson (assistant director of the play).
The play itself, although entitled Caledonia Dreaming, is very much an Edinburgh affair, centred on a corrupt politician whose dream is to bring the Olympic Games to the Athens of the North.
This is an Edinburgh peopled by folk whose dreams or ambitions are often of the Walter Mitty variety and the reality of whose humdrum or damaged lives makes for ludicrous comedy, shot through with small-town pathos and occasional political asides which recall the satirical drive of the 7:84 of yesteryear.
Ironically, the central character is the one who never appears; the man who is made to epitomise the smooth, sophisticated "can do" Scotland that these characters variously seek - the one and only Mr Sean Connery. It's not that the play necessarily endorses Connery as a contemporary Brave Heart, but he is the dream come true. Only, how real are dreams?
The diminutive Billy Boyd gets most of the laughs with his witty Connery impersonations, in an entertaining if ultimately unsatisfactory show which is well directed by Iain Reekie and boasts a talented, hard-working cast.
Ultimately unsatisfactory because it's not clear at the end of the day what Caledonia Dreaming is actually trying to say. Part illustrated lecture enclosing a series of bright cameos and skittish skits, part musing on the nature of ambition and dreams, and part political satire, it fairly spreads its wings but never quite takes off, lacking a definite focus.
That said, it does carry a lot of interesting baggage which should make the workshops lively and interesting for all ages.
A geographical footnote for the company: Harthill is in North Lanarkshire and not, as the play has it, in West Lothian.
* Venue and workshop details: 0141 331 2219