Calum’s Road - Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 5 Oct (3 stars)

Calum’s Road - Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 5 Oct

Photography | Richard Campbell

Generally strong production suffers from clunky direction and heavy-handed message

Calum MacLeod claims not to remember when he started the road. Exasperated at the council’s refusal to connect his home, in the hamlet of Arnish on the Isle of Raasay, with the rest of the island, he picked up a shovel and did it himself. It could have been any time between 1963 and 1967. He may, his outraged wife tells the audience, have misled Magnus Magnusson on the subject.

It’s a true story and David Harrower’s adaptation of Roger Hutchinson’s book mixes direct narration and a chopped up timeframe to dramatise Calum’s grand, and ultimately futile gesture. Gerry Mulgrew’s direction feels a little clunky, mixing Communicado’s once-innovative theatre-from-the-back-of-a-van style with modern video while the cast skip about the stage, battering home the point that a remote community needs more than a single track road to survive.

Thanks to John McGeoch’s flowing filmed backdrop the production looks great, with maps, old photographs and mobile phone snaps adding visual richness and humour to a set consisting of various camouflage-splodged boxes. Iain Macrae works hard as the Stakhanovite Calum, digging on through the decades, turning his back on the other families who are leaving Arnish one by one. Alasdair Macrae’s score keeps up the pace and young Scott Fletcher, a veteran of Gary, Tank Commander, is adorably gormless as the daft teenager Alex, rediscovering his Rasaay roots. But like the road itself, it all feels a little too late.

Currently touring throughout Scotland.

Calum's Road - promotional trailer

Calum's Road

  • 3 stars

The National Theatre of Scotland and Communicado Theatre Company present David Harrower's take on the true tale of a man on the Isle of Skye who, faced with council indifference to his remote village's isolated plight, built a two-mile stretch of road all by himself with nothing but a pick, a wheelbarrow and a shovel.

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