JOYCE MCMILLAN on KIDNAPPED at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, for The Scotsman 14.4.14.
4 stars ****
WE’RE CURRENTLY living through a great age of storytelling for young people. Yet it’s still difficult to name a living writer with a narrative gift to match the genius of Robert Louis Stevenson; and this robust touring version of his great 1886 novel Kidnapped – created by the young Scottish-led London group Sell A Door, and subtitled “A Family Adventure Tale” – offers a fine two hours of entertainment for a family audience.
Adapted by Ivan Wilkinson for a cast of five, Anna Fox’s production is often less than perfect. The set wobbles a bit, the cast are sometimes allowed to obscure the story by gabbling and roaring their lines, and Wilkinson’s script misses some important tricks, failing to explain its introduction of an older version of the hero, David Balfour, as narrator, and cutting the novel’s brilliant final scene, in which David Balfour walks back into Edinburgh, carrying with him all his newfound wisdom.
Yet the sheer energy of the production, and the brilliance of the tale it tells, carries it through, on a tide of Jacobite songs of the time. There’s a fine performance from Simon Weir as the glamorous Jacobite Alan Breck Stewart, and a beautifully-pitched one from Stewart McCheyne as young David. And in this of all years, it’s a show that everyone in Scotland should see; Stevenson’s love-song to a country so recently divided in war and rebellion, but so rich in the capacity to heal those wounds, and to face the future with both love and hope.
Kidnapped on tour in England, and at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 3-7 June.