SCDA One Acts – Saturday

Feb 27 2023 | By More

Calculated quartet

Church Hill Theatre: Sat 25 Feb 2023
Report by Thom Dibdin

To the second night of the Edinburgh district round of the SCDA’s One Act Play Festival at the Church Hill Theatre, where the four plays on offer demonstrated that the competition is firmly back on track.

The One Acts have taken a year to really get going again. Having been scheduled then abandoned just at the start of the pandemic, their return last year came just too early in the cycle and was somewhat limited. There is still room for expansion, but the upbeat, celebratory tone from all the clubs taking part continued to add to the festival atmosphere.

The Church Hill Theatre on the night of the SCDA One Act Festival. Pic Thom Dibdin

This vocal support from the audience was greatly enhanced by the supporters of the opening society of the evening St Kentigern’s Academy Youth Theatre and the only youth company entered into this year’s competition, who brought Everybody’s Dying to Meet You by Alan Richardson.

Their welcome youthful enthusiasm stretched to the stage, although this spooky five hander written in 2021 set in a Victorian cemetery in the present day, never quite took off as it might.

It was all very well set up, with a quartet of youngsters sharing a daring picnic. There was a great natural feel to it all as they knocked back the wine and got increasingly sozzled.

astute performances

There were particularly astute performances from Lola Mullen as Rebecca, who had chosen the venue and knew all the spooky stories, and Rachel Horne as the always sceptical Marianne.

Unfortunately all the pace got knocked out of the piece when a couple of the actors lost their lines which had a domino effect on the rest of the production, meaning that the timing and focus of the various reveals, which would have given the script its really macabre edge, did not emerge.

Fredericka Morrison, Malcolm McFadyen, Graeme Lobban and Alison Carcas in Socks Pic Ailie Henderson

For a completely surreal juxtaposition, the second piece of the evening was Rosemary Frisino Toohey’s 2005 play, Socks, performed by St Serf’s Players. Set inside a dryer in a laundrette, the actors play three odd socks and a leg warmer discussing the nature of life, partnership and whether a sock can truly be said to be lost if it knows where it is…

There was a real punch to the performance with Malcolm McFadyen bouncing around like a mad thing as tennis sock Brad, lost in the dryer for the first time and Fredericka Morrison all naive optimism as the leg warmer, Ceil, ready to trot out the up-beat platitudes.

There was a more worldly-worn air to Alison Carcas, nicely poised as ladies trouser sock Elaine – her description of being hastily removed during a love tryst was particularly effective – and Graeme Lobban haughty as workaday sock, Meyer, belonging to a used car salesman.


The set – a simple flat, depicting the rear of the drum of the dryer – was hugely effective, while the costume decisions of the company were particularly well considered and helped ensure that each performer visually reflected their character.

It’s a brief piece, running very close to the 20 minute minimum demanded of all entries. But director Moira Macdonald managed to ensure that it continued at pace without going so fast as to run short. She also helped bring out the strong sense of identity to each character, although the Americanisms of the script didn’t always chime with the performances.

Ruari JT Johnson, Briony Davies, Bob Grindley and Clara Wilson in Tickless Time. Pic: Ailie Henderson

There is more surreal comedy in Leitheatre (Sunnyside)’s offering, a contemporary update to American Susan Glaspell’s 1925 script, Tickless Time. It’s a piece that plays with the early 20th century Craft Movement’s obsession with sundials and their mottos.

The piece calls for a studied peculiarity from the actors playing Ian and Louise, who have set up a homemade sundial in their garden and, purists that they are, intend to bury all the mechanical timekeeping devices in their possession and rely solely on the sun to tell the time.

Bob Grindley as Ian and Briony Davies as Louise certainly created that necessary quirkiness, with Ruari JT Johnson and Clara Wilson as their close friends Eddy and Alice bringing a real sense of befuddlement at their pals’ strange behaviour.

Phyllis Ross felt a bit lost in terms of her character as neighbour Mrs Stubbs, while Sanna O Maern had a complete ball as Annie, Ian and Louise’s cook, unhappy to the point of giving her notice that her kitchen clock was being removed.


The problems with the whole piece, however, lie in director Lynne Morris’s decision to remove it in space as well as time from 1925 Provincetown, Massachusetts, to 21st century Easter Road, Edinburgh.

The key geographic and time-related issue of the original is that being 300 miles east of Washington, where Eastern Seaboard Time is calculated, causes a 20 minute disparity with time as set by a sundial in Provincetown.

There is simply not the same disparity between Edinburgh and Greenwich. Without altering the script to suit such details, Ian’s fastidiousness is lost and the issue becomes a distraction.

Jacquie Clayton, Carol Bryce, Joanna Meiklejohn, Sally North and Pat Johnson in The Book Club of Little Witterington. Pic: Ailie Henderson

The final piece of the evening sees EPT take on the first of Joan Greening’s The Book Club of Little Witterington trilogy. It is a marvellously observed piece of contemporary writing, clashing fuddy-duddy and modern attitudes when a newcomer to Little Witterington joins the four, much older, book club chums.

It’s a piece ripe for five actresses to play to their strengths and director Derek Ward ensured that every one of his cast did just that, on a set that casually indicates the living room of a well-to-do country cottage somewhere in rural middle England.

Carol Bryce was beautifully uptight as the hostess, Jenny, and Pat Johnson perfect pitched as the village know-it-all on whom the Vicar depends. Sally North had a real blast as the slightly  gaga, beatific Ruth and Jacquie Clayton was quite the resting actress, quoting and name-dropping to perfection.

petty bickering

If the book club itself, with all its petty bickering, is beautifully created, it is at the arrival of the disruptor, Joanna Meiklejohn as the much younger Paula, that this really takes off. With a laugh straight out of the Barbara Windsor playbook, Meiklejohn twists the whole piece round.

The pleasure of the SCDA One Acts is seeing such a range of plays and players in one go. On this year’s showing, the description of it as a “festival” is quite accurate. Lots of theatre and lots of intervals means that there is plenty of time to bump into and catch up with old friends.

Here’s hoping that more companies can enter next year and maybe even some other youth companies will join SCDA and so be able to take part.

Running time (Saturday): Three hours and 30 minutes (including an interval and two pauses).
Church Hill Theatre 33 Morningside Road, EH10 4DR.
Friday 24 and Saturday 25 February 2023
Doors open 6.30pm, curtain up at 7pm both nights.
Run Ended.

For details of all the winners of the SCDA One Act Festival, see EPT’s Book Club wins One Acts.

A report from Friday night’s performance is here.


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