The Silver Darlings preview
As the Year of Homecoming enters its final stretch, it seems a more appropriate time than ever to celebrate the achievements of Neil M Gunn’s epic Highland novel, The Silver Darlings. A new stage adaptation by playwright Peter Arnott and director Kenny Ireland does just that and, following a successful run at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, will be touring Scotland this autumn.
One of its stars, Alan McHugh, is no stranger to the piece, having featured in a previous adaptation by John McGrath in 1994. Calling Arnott’s version ‘tighter and cleaner’, he’s warning audiences not to expect a literal page-to-stage translation. ‘If we put the whole novel on stage,’ he explains, ‘it would be about nine hours long. What Peter’s done is taken what he sees as the most important elements and managed to get it down to two hours.’
According to McHugh, the show’s huge set, evoking mountainous landscapes, will be a highlight and audiences won’t help but be drawn in by Gunn’s endearing story, in which an uprooted Highland family tries to make a living by the sea. Yet, he believes the production has a life beyond Scotland too: ‘The start of the novel is set during the Highland Clearances, when so many people were forced away from Scotland to seek a home elsewhere. Towards the end, it’s hinted that they come back. It’s very similar to the whole Homecoming theme and I think there’s a definite life for this in North America, where it will have clear resonances for families over there.’
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, until Sat 5 Sep; King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 8–Sat 12 Sep, then touring throughout Scotland