Friday, 19 September 2014

'The Flouers o'Edinburgh' Finborough Theatre ***

What a fearful experience the United Kingdom has faced with the indefinite independence of our beloved Scotland, thankfully today the results were announced with a 54% majority to remain as part of our phenomenal nation. The Finborough Theatre's recent premiere of Robert McLellan’s 1948 piece of playwriting, ‘The Flouers o’Edinburgh’ was one that required further vigour, especially within the narrative, then again the performances were well accomplished. ‘The Flouers o’Edinburgh’  is  set in the mid eighteenth century Edinburgh, where tension is massively strife as Scotland has become entwined with England, and when the  pretentious Charles Gilchrist has returned to his home city, after his English higher education gives the impression he hungers for his fellow Scots to refine their spoken language and stance. At the start of the production the action takes place at the apartment of Lady Girzie Athelstate where she is anxious for her niece, Miss Kate Muir of Primrose to find a possible and suitable suitor for her. Nonetheless, the expectant husband is her childhood friend, Charles, and since his English education has left him with a warped accent, and dissimilarities are increasingly cosmic does not appear that this is that the most fruitful solution. This leads to an array of arguments, and when English Captain Simkin develops a fascination toward her, a slight insinuation of jealousy exuded through Charles, and tension becomes apparent between the two men. The play allows us to witness the interesting relationship between Lady Athelstate, and her servant, Jock Carmichael, as it appears that they have one of exceeding wit, especially when Jock’s blunt honesty is spoken openly when he’s been given a humongous list of chores, and his uncouthness is increasingly jaw-dropping. McLellan’s  narrative is quite mediocre in places, as the speed and course becomes dwindling , in particular within the first act as there were not ample gripping aspects here. Paradoxically, the performances by the company of ‘The Flouers o’Edinburgh’ were immensely complementary indeed. Finley Bain is agreeable as the pompous, Charles Gilchrist. One found he engrossed the characters’ growing determination of a man destined to become a member of politics with a good sense of ease. Leigh Lothian is respectable as the niece, Miss Kate Mair. I thought she immersed the pretence of a woman who admires her Scottish heritage and accent with opulence. Jenny Lee is cordial as Kate’s eccentric aunt, especially with in her conversations between her frequent visitors and her most trusted servant Jock, and played so amusingly by Lewis Rae. Jennifer Bakst’s direction is particularly special as she has captured the core of a nation divided on how the newly formed an alliance with England would be positive or problematic one, this provides such poignancy here with the country’s recent vote. Philip Lindley’s set design is beautiful as he is liberated the atmosphere of a mid-eighteenth century environment to such lavishness, in particular in the stencil art on the walls on Lady Athelstate’s flat. Overall, I believed the experience of ‘The Floures o’Edinburgh’ was very watchable, despite the awkward narrative.

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