CUMBERNAULD Theatre is about to hit the road again with its next touring production, an adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic Kidnapped.
First published in 1886, this swashbuckling, historic novel is one of the best known works in Scottish literature and has spawned numerous adaptations. It has been filmed at least six times and even been published in comics form by Marvel. But a stage version of this story, which is largely set in the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, presents its own unique challenges. We asked director Ed Robson how he had tackled these.
“That was the biggest issue for us,” he said. “How do you make the audience feel the sense of being taken on this epic West-East journey through so many different landscapes, each with its own atmosphere, when you’re confined to a single room?
“We’ve worked hard to give each location its own unique atmosphere - pouring rain, the glint of falling leaves, sunshine, and conveyed that through colour, texture and atmosphere. We use projections, sound and lighting to produce the effect, whether it’s a loch lapping at pebbles or the open sea, and use all those theatrical techniques to bring it all together.”
The story is an epic of historical fiction, set in the 18th century a few years after the Jacobites were crushed at Culloden and Scotland is firmly under Hanoverian control. In his writing Stevenson was inspired by real events such as the Appin murder, in Ballachulish in 1752, and the story of James Annesely, who reclaimed his birthright many years after being abducted and taken to America. Stevenson’s hero, David Balfour is himself kidnapped and undergoes many trials from shipwreck to betrayals and pursuit through the heather by Government troops.
Ed explained what drew him to Kidnapped: “I looked around at various classic Scottish novels and Kidnapped really stood out to me. It’s a book I first read in school, and my dad was a big fan of Michael Caine so took me to see his film in the 1970s. Michael struggled a bit with the accent, but it’s a film I’ve always been fond of.”
Kidnapped has a three-day run starting April 12 at Cumbernauld Theatre (call 01236 732887 for tickets), followed by a tour around Scottish theatres until the end of May. The play has a dedicated website at http://www.kidnapped.cumbernauldtheatre.co.uk.