A Century Untold
Eden Court Collective
THERE was a real sense of occasion to the Sunday night performance outdoors under the stars at Fort George as audience members were guided to their seats by torchlight through an army barracks whose walls and cobbled parade pathways simply ooze history.
Inspired by original letters sent to and from the frontline during wars fought in the last hundred years, members of the Eden Court Collective, under the direction of David Hunter and Katyana Kozikowska, have come up with a truly compelling and deeply moving production.
Fort George proved to be an inspiring backdrop for this performance by a company comprised of 16 to 25 year olds from Eden Court Creative Youth Theatres around the Highlands. The use of multimedia effects – footage of Winston Churchill at one point projected on to the side of the barracks alongside fighter planes and scenes from the frontline – was well judged, effective and never distracting.
The stunning success of the production though is down largely to good stories well told by a group of performers who have breathed life into their carefully researched source material to produce a humbling account of troubled times which brought out the worst – and the best - in mankind.
Fiddler Rachel Campbell introduced and then helped link the stories being told through the eyes of Skye postman James Budge, the production’s central character, played with a calm assurance by Malcolm Cumming. When we first meet James, we encounter a silver-tongued charmer with an eye for the ladies and a deep-rooted sense of community.
Ruled out of action because of his colour-blindness, James becomes a conduit for the unfolding tale, told through letters which reveal in the words of ordinary people the occasional highs and many lows of war as it affects the soldiers fighting it and the families left behind.
Miffy Morgan is another lynchpin as Mrs Cuthbertson who sees her sons Harry and Malcolm (Zander Donaldson and John McGeachie) setting out from Skye on the same day. Her adaptability is demonstrated by a pretty convincing cameo as none other than Churchill along the way.
Through the eyes of Hilda (Jenna Maclean) we see the torture endured by the wife left back home, buoyed by letters from loved ones and devastated by standard issue communications from ‘the Ministry’ when things take a turn for the worse. As Sergeant William Patterson, Calum Sinclair develops his character from a seemingly unfeeling agent of war (“Get a move on, you lazy turds!”) to a man who has his own demons to face and a sense of duty towards others.
From a movingly related of the bombing of Bank Row in Wick to a very amusing interlude revealing the innovative medical practices developed through necessity, A Century Untold unfolds to become a highly original, thought-provoking and entertaining piece of work which richly deserves to be seen by more people.
4 out of 5 stars