When cultures clash

28th February 1997 at 00:00
The Evacuees, Baldy Bane Theatre Company, Touring Scotland in March

For its current schools tour, Baldy Bane has revived a really impressive production of The Evacuees, first seen six years ago.

Researched with the help of Jordanhill Campus's archives, and co-authored by director Garry Stewart and John Inglis (who drew on his own experiences as a wartime evacuee), the play follows the story of two Clydebank children despatched into remote Argyll for, as we used to say, "the duration".

As in so many parts of Britain, the urban children and their rural hosts found one another barely comprehensible, and the play's dialogue makes good use of the misunderstandings between the townies and the sheep-farmers.

On some occasions, however, clear communication could be even more damaging. When the "meenister" interrogates the children about their Sunday school, he discovers to his horror they have been attending a socialist Sunday school, where they have learned parodies of hymns and such precepts as "A bayonet is a weapon with a worker at each end".

The text is rich in the detail of the time, and it gives a good sense of sharing and community that came with the hardship and the rationing.

The Baldy Bane set is dominated by two Nazi flags and a Saltire (rather than the Union Jack) draped to make a head-height background- an image so powerful that I privately wondered whether any of the upper primary children in the audience might be making the same mistake as a boy in the play. His error was to think that Hitler had first declared war not on Poland but on Scotland, all because he had seen newsreels of what he had mis-heard as Stukas dive-bombing "Wishaw".

This, however, is a minor quibble, for the energy and talent of this attractive quartet of performers continuously bowls the audience around in the hoop of the story. When I saw them, the audience watched them with delighted attentiveness.

Baldy Bane is also touring Island Earth No More, a play about the Highland Clearances, and Baldy Bane Circus Extravaganza in March, tel: 0141 632 0193

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