Moonlight On Leith

Aug 19 2021 | By More

★★★☆☆      Celebratory

theSpace Triplex (Venue 38): Sat 7– Fri 27 Aug 2021
Review by Hugh Simpson

Combining the quotidian and the lyrical, New Celts and REDCAP Theatre’s Moonlight On Leith at theSpace Triplex provides a touching portrait of assorted Leithers.

Leith of course, was a town in its own right until a hundred years ago, and for a long time was Edinburgh’s much less fashionable cousin. As it has become a trendier place to live in the last couple of decades, it seems to have expanded accordingly as such areas do. There used to be considerable distance between Leith and the New Town; now (if the property pages are to be believed) they overlap somewhere north of Annandale Street.

Lucy Deehan, Nicola Alexander, Kyle Martin, Ania Myszkowska and Andrew Govan-Hall in a preview performance. Pic: Rachel Duncan

This has led to an influx of hipsters and students, and both groups are satirised in Laila Noble and Emilie Robson’s play, originally written to coincide with the Save Leith Walk campaign.

The title instantly conjures up Hibs and the Proclaimers, but neither make an appearance here (just as well, since the Easter Road stadium is another of those places that was once very definitely not in Leith).

Instead, this is a self-consciously poetic celebration of a night in Leith, with those hipsters and students rubbing shoulders with police, prostitutes, protestors, bams, bakery workers and allotment owners.

There is considerable attraction in the writing, which owes a clear debt to the likes of Under Milk Wood. At times it is overly sentimental and somewhat flowery, and strays so far from reality that it does not always do justice to the community it celebrates. Nevertheless, it retains a tautness in its expression that means it rarely threatens to outstay its welcome.

admirably flexible

Portraying a selection of diverse characters with the help of minimal props is a tough job, but director Debi Pirie and a five-strong cast are admirably flexible. Nicola Alexander and Lucy Deehan are particularly impressive, but Andrew Hall, Ania Myszkowska and Kyle Martin also show themselves to be versatile.

Nicola Alexander, Andrew Govan-Hall, Kyle Martin and Ania Myszkowska in a preview performance. Pic: Rachel Duncan

It is unfortunate for Martin that his star turn – an existentialist French cat – happens at ground level and is accordingly invisible to the vast majority of the audience. Otherwise, good use is made of the acting area and the performances fill a large space well. There is also some notable a cappella folk singing, with Alexander doing a good job as musical director.

In its determination to paint Leith in such a positive light, some of the characterisations do prove cartoonish, and this one-dimensional aspect (like the studiedly poetic language) does eventually pall. However, there is enough craft on display to carry the production forward satisfactorily.

Running time 1 hour 10 minutes (no interval)
theSpace Triplex
, The Prince Phillip Building, Hill Pl, EH8 9DP (venue 38)
Saturday 7 – Friday 27 August 2021 (odd dates only)
2.50 pm (odd dates only)

Information and tickets at
Instagram: @redcaptheatre
Facebook: @redcaptheatre
Twitter: @REDCAPTheatre


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