Peter Arnott's latest offering presents an exquisite dance between the epochs of the past and the impending future. Set against the idyllic backdrop of a Perthshire summer home, the haunting spirit of young Will, masterfully portrayed by Robbie Scott, serves as an evocative centerpiece. George Rennie, his father and a fervent academic brought to life by John Michie, surrounds himself with kin and acquaintances on the eve of the monumental Scottish independence referendum of 2014. The setting couldn't be more apt, with change palpably in the atmosphere.
Matthew Trevannion's portrayal of Charlie, a former protégé of George now turned media pundit, provides a stark contrast. He challenges traditional perspectives with his bold predictions of impending environmental shifts and societal upheaval, becoming a voice of both anticipation and caution.
However, it is Will’s spectral presence that resonates deeply. With every nuanced movement and ambient shift, he becomes a poignant representation of profound emotional landscapes and the bygone era. The strained dynamic between his parents, especially the palpable tension delivered by Deirdre Davis in her role as Edie, enhances the narrative’s gravitas.
But one must recognize that the play transcends mere political debates of Scottish independence. Arnott uses this as a backdrop to delve deeper, echoing sentiments reminiscent of Chekhov's classics. Sally Reid’s portrayal of Emma and her fascination with the portraitist, Valentin Serov, adeptly parallels the thematic essence of the play, encapsulating a society unknowingly teetering on the precipice of significant change.
Under the adept direction of David Greig, in collaboration with Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum, the play unfolds seamlessly. The staging, set against Jessica Worrall’s ambitious highland backdrop, reinforces the narrative's depth and dynamism. While some might find the play's heart elusive or perhaps avant-garde, it’s this very characteristic that sets it apart, marking it as an essential viewing for those who appreciate profound, introspective theatre.
★★★★★ 5 stars