Ane Servant o’ Twa Maisters

Aug 20 2016 | By More


✭✭✭✭✩  Gloriously glaikit

Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre (Venue 83) Sat 6 – Sat 20 Aug 2016
Review by Thom Dibdin

There’s huff, puff and havering a-plenty in Leitheatre’s take on Ane Servant o’ Twa Maisters Victor Carin’s adaptation and translation into Scots of Galdini’s classic farce.

Which is as it should be, so far as it goes, in the tale of the glaikit servant who turns up in Edinburgh with one new master and suddenly finds himself with the opportunity to take a second. Although it would be good to see a new, new version.

46 Servant Two MasersFor the moment though, Leitheatre set this in that rose-tinted nebulous age which you might call olde-worlde times.

The comedy belongs to Archie, the servant of the title, played by Euan McIntyre. He uses the kind of serious attention to detail that makes it all the more funny than if he milked every line for what it’s worth. Although there he’s not averse to the odd eye-rolling moment.

But the pomposity of the piece belongs to the old men, as it often does. Don Arnott plays Pittendree whose daughter Mary has just agreed to marry Sandy, the son of his good friend Dr Mackenzie (Tim Foley). If Arnott is not always as happy in his character as he might be, there’s never a lack of plumped-up pose between the two, as plans go awry.

The marriage itself – a love match – can take place by the good fortune (for the two intended) that the man to whom Mary had been promised during infancy, a certain Mr Burnett, has just been killed in a duel.

So everyone is somewhat nonplussed when, even as the agreement is being sealed, the very Mr Burnett is announced at the door, come to claim a debt owed to him by Pittendree and Mary’s hand in marriage.


It’s pretty convoluted stuff and it is to director Phyllis Ross’s credit that she both keeps things going along with a merry regard to the comedy while ensuring that the ins and outs of the plot are kept clear. There’s the occasional lack of attention to the blocking, but this is a pretty full stage at times.

The twist is that Burnett really was killed – by his own sister’s intended, David Kennedy (Billy Renfrew), who is now on the run. The sister, Sarah, has put on her brother’s clothes and followed him to Edinburgh, helped by her unsuspecting servant, Archie, and is looking on picking up the debt to keep her going.

While she is off sorting out a bit of business, Archie finds himself with the offer of a bit of work from another newcomer in town. Who, few will be surprised to learn, is the very same David Kennedy.

There are solid performances throughout the cast, who on the whole deal with the Scots language with ease. There is the odd moment when if feels as if a character is rather quoting their lines, but for the most part it falls out with a natural rhythm that allows any vocabulary that might not be familiar to the audience to be comprehensible from its use.

Stephanie Hammond has the most crucial role as the cross-dressing Sarah Burnett. She carries herself with enough stiff-legged authority for it to be believable that the other characters mistake her for a man. Although their shallow nature is enough for that particular unlikely situation to occur.

splendidly haughty

Irene Cuthbert (who alternates with Alison Kennedy in the role) is the revelation of the piece as the down-to-earth innkeeper, Mistress Gow, with whom both Sarah and David are lodging. She’s splendidly haughty but knowing as the only one to recognise Sarah for who she is – slyly vouching for her as she knew her brother.

Chloe McIntyre and Martin Dick have slight roles as the two young lovers, but both carry them off with excellent attention to the details of young love, yearning and spurning that ensure the comedy works. Sally Pagan has fun as Pittendree’s ancient servant Susie and the unlikely recipient of Archie’s glad eye.

The various waiters and servants are played with excellent comic timing by Kevin Rowe, Michael Paton and Brian Thomson. They ensure that the tricky act two set-piece where Archie has both masters eating in adjacent rooms, works with efficiency.

All told, a solid production which guarantees a laugh without taking the comedy forward very much. An update with more attention to modern understandings of gender would be welcome, but this delivers the goods.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minues (with one 20 minutes interval)
Inverleith St Serf’s Church Centre (Venue 83), 1a Clark Road, EH5 3BD
Saturday 6 to Saturday 20 August 2016
Daily, (not Sundays) Sat 6 – Fri 19: 7.30pm
Saturday 20 August only: at 2.30pm.
Tickets and details:
Leitheatre website:
Twitter: @LeitheatreEdin


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Comments (4)

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  1. Theatregoer says:

    To give this abysmal production four stars, is deeply insulting to Forth Children’s Theatre whose truly outstanding, technically imaginative and brilliantly acted/sung production of Jesus Christ Superstar fully deserved its five star review. Leitheatre’s offering was amateurish in the extreme, badly acted and very poorly directed. The night we went several audience members left at the interval, we should have done the same. Friends went on other nights from us and all agreed it was pretty atrocious. Two stars would be generous.

    • JimT says:

      The show was very entertaining with the cast playing their roles perfectly, it was billed as a farce and didn’t disappoint, to compare to a musical is a ridiculous leveller. I and the rest of the 70 strong audience loved the show I heard no negative feedback, well done Leitheatre

    • FrancescaK says:

      Well I really have no idea what you watched because I watched a great, brilliantly directed play which the whole audience laughed to and enjoyed. ‘Poorly acted’ is such a cruel thing to say for these cast members that,by the looks of things, put in a huge amount of effort to make this it the funny perfectly timed play it was.
      I very much enjoyed it and would watch it again. Well done!

  2. mark gorman says:

    I am the Chair of Forth Children’s Theatre and I can tell you we are not insulted. The fact that your comment is anonymous says it all. I didn’t see the show butt I am insulted about is the comment above.