Cambusdonald Royal

August 8, 2018 | By | 3 Replies More

★★★★☆   Knockout knockabout

Mayfield Salisbury Church (Venue 11): Fri 3–Sat 18 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is an air of freshness and fun to Cambusdonald Royal from Edinburgh People’s Theatre at Mayfield Salisbury Church.

A company in its 75th year, and record-breaking 61st consecutive year on the Fringe, could be forgiven for resting on its laurels, but there is no suggestion of that here.

Cambusdonald Royal from EdinburghPeople’s Theatre at Mayfield Salisbury Church.Gordon Braidwood, Graham Bell, Iain Fraser, John Somerville, Ronnie Millar. Pic Kelly Simmonds

Gordon Braidwood, Graham Bell, Iain Fraser, John Somerville, Ronnie Millar. Pic Kelly Simmonds

James Scotland’s knockabout tale of monks and nuns is one of his series about 15th-century Cambusdonald Abbey, and follows on from The Sorcerer’s Tale, as performed by EPT in 2014. This second helping was last put on by EPT in 1994, and it is a testament to the loyalty of the group’s members that some from that production make a return here.

It does not matter if you have not seen the earlier play, as its events are handily recapped near the start of this one. The story which follows – with nuns billeted with the monks after a convent fire, experiments with alchemy, and various unwelcome visitors – seems almost irrelevant.



This is deceptive, as it works beautifully as a structure on which to hang the various goings-on. This production has (very welcome) elements of both pantomime and farce, and like all farces it needs a rigorous internal logic to work.

The central trio of put-upon monks are portrayed with great energy and gusto. Iain Fraser’s alchemist Brother Barnabas, all eye-popping incomprehension, John Somerville’s deadpan Brother Donatus, and Ronnie Millar’s glaikit Brother Simon, are a classic ill-sorted comedy trio and provide the backbone of the piece, with some beautiful comic timing from all of them.

frankly ludicrous

However, this is very much an ensemble show. Director Irene Beaver ensures that, however many people are on the stage, they all have something to do that meshes with everyone else. Gordon Braidwood’s short-sighted Abbot Wilfrid, Sally North’s overbearing Mother Mary and Graham Bell’s frankly ludicrous Cardinal legate are comic performances pitched carefully just the right side of unbelievable.

Gordon Braidwood, Ronnie Millar, John Somerville, Louise Fairnie, Iain Fraser, Mandy Black Pic Graham BellCambusdonald Royal from EdinburghPeople’s Theatre at Mayfield Salisbury Church

Gordon Braidwood, Ronnie Millar, John Somerville, Louise Fairnie, Iain Fraser, Mandy Black Pic Graham Bell

Anne Mackenzie and Lynn Cameron, as two nuns who are every bit as uninterested in the fundamentals of their vocation as the central monks, are comparatively realistic characters and well judged. Mandy Black and Louise Fairnie, as two unexpected visitors from the past, are suitably larger than life; Black in particular relishes every moment of her deliciously over-the-top character.

Stephanie Hammond and Peter Tait’s characters seem to have wandered in from another genre altogether but are discharged with no little dignity.

It is one of the joys of this production that its essentially couthie Scots comedy – earthy without ever really being bawdy – can seemingly encompass all times and styles in what is supposed to be late mediaeval central Scotland. Some of the jokes and language are certainly more accessible to a Scottish audience, but anyone could appreciate the humour.

Typical care is taken with the set and props in a production that has a gentle humour – albeit with an occasional bite – that should have the widest possible appeal.

Running time 2 hours including one interval
Mayfield Salisbury Church Hall (Venue 11), 18 West Mayfield, EH9 1TQ
Friday 3 – Saturday 18 August 2018
Daily at 7.30 pm (not Sundays or Saturdays)
Matinees Saturday 4, 11, 18 at 2.30 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/cambusdonald-royal

Company website: https://www.ept.org.uk
Facebook: @EdinburghPeoplesTheatre.
Twitter:@EPeoplesTheatre

Sally North, Gordon Braidwood, Lynn Cameron, Ronnie Millar, Graham Bell, Stephanie Hammond, John Somerville, Iain Fraser. Pic Kelly SimmondsCambusdonald Royal from EdinburghPeople’s Theatre at Mayfield Salisbury Church

Sally North, Gordon Braidwood, Lynn Cameron, Ronnie Millar, Graham Bell, Stephanie Hammond, John Somerville, Iain Fraser. Pic Kelly Simmonds

ENDS

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Comments (3)

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  1. Irene Beaver says:

    Thank you so much Hugh. I’m delighted.

  2. Wonderful crit congratulations. Looking forward to seeing the show XXXXX

  3. Ian Ross says:

    Need to fit this one in. Well done EPT.

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