NTS Ensemble Season

North Edinburgh Arts Centre, Thu 7-Sat 9 Sep, then touring


Ensemble work was, for some time, completely unseen on Scottish stages, which is a shame, because the particular confidence it can bring actors in approaching different pieces with the same colleagues often sees an all round improvement in performances. This was evident a few years back in Hamish Glen’s creation of an ensemble at Dundee Rep.

The NTS has followed this lead with its own ensemble, on this occasion consisting of seven actors performing three plays throughout Scotland. Among these is Zinnie Harris’ Julie, a new version of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, and a fascinating prospect. Strindberg’s intense psychological tragedy, fraught as it is with imagery of sexuality and dream was a piece far in advance of its time, engaging as it did with new notions of the collapse of hierarchy inspired by Nietzsche as well as psychoanalytic imagery that would not become common for another half century. But it is more than a museum peice; there is an essential dramatic tension to the story of the instigation of an affair with a butler by a posh heiress that is bound to intrigue in Harris’ hands. Her adaptation, given her credentials as an author with Further than the Furthest Thingpromises a good night out. She will also direct.

The programme also includes a childrens’ piece by David Greig and Wils Wilson titled Gobboand a revival of Douglas Maxwell’s delightful but alarming coming of age play, Mancub. But I suppose the stars of any piece on an ensemble are the actors themselves. Among these are some very exciting names. Cath Whitefield delivered possibly the performance of 2006 for this critic with her witch/mother figure in Home East Lothian. Andy Clark has, after an earlier career in the Dundee Rep ensemble established himself as an actor to watch in Scottish theatre, while Samantha Young, also a former Dundee Rep performer is surely one of the brightest talents on the current scene. For the performers alone this tour seems to hold an abundance of promise.

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