Theatre Review: Margaret Saves Scotland by Val McDermid, Oran Mor, Glasgow…

A MORE than crowded house at Oran Mor for this new play by Val McDermid – and for those unaware of publicity details, maybe an expectation of the violent crime stories that McDermid is known for.

Is the eponymous Margaret going to save Scotland by engineering the demise of political figures in Westminster? Not a bit of it. This Margaret – inspired by a now deceased friend of McDermid’s – is a wee girl who lives in Yorkshire but who, after a family holiday, returns to Keighley with Scotland evermore written on her heart.

What follows is a tale where truth eclipses fiction, although McDermid – with director Marilyn Imrie onside – has tweaked aspects of what actually happened for comic, poignant and certainly sentimental effect. The nine-year old Margaret decides that Scotland should regain its freedom, makes it her mission to rouse that nation to rise up … and runs away from home to kickstart a campaign for independence. The year, by the way, is 1958.

Politics aside, you’ll find it hard not to be inveigled into the little girl’s enthusiasms. Tori Burgess’s Margaret – very much a 50s schoolgirl in neat uniform, short socks and sensible shoes – is a mettlesome wee besom who, even if her historical sources get criss-crossed with the romance and derring-do of films like Casablanca, is determined to keep faith with her dreams.

Upbeat, thoroughly engaging performances, too, from Clare Waugh and Simon Donaldson as her well-meaning parents, switching bits of costume and accents to play the other characters along Margaret’s way. They play a variety of musical instruments too, for this is a one-act where songs – Over the Sea to Skye, among them – are a vibrant part of McDermid’s tender, whimsical tribute to her friend Margaret.

Presented in association with Aberdeen Performing Arts and Traverse Theatre.

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Aye Write! festival kicks off in Glasgow…

THE Aye Write! festival kicks off on the 15th March and runs for ten days.

This year, events celebrating the love of reading and writing are being held in seven venues across Glasgow.

Top names heading to the city include Val McDermid, Professor Sir John Curtice, Sally Magnusson, Robert Peston and Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay.

The jam-packed programme features an eclectic mix of literary events.

Chris Brookmyre, Val McDermid, Luca Veste, Doug Johnstone and Mark Billingham will come together to form the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, who’ll be bringing their rock n’ roll show to the Tramway.

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International book festival to hit the road…

Organisers of the Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF) are taking their show on the road with a new pop-up event.

Authors Val McDermid, Christopher Brookmyre and Mark Billingham, as well as broadcaster Sally Magnusson, tennis coach Judy Murray and football commentator Archie Macpherson are to take part in the three-day ReimagiNation: Glenrothes festival.

The event will host talks, music and poetry in Rothes Hall, as part of the EIBF Booked! programme which has previously staged mini festivals in Cumbernauld, Irvine and East Kilbride.

Christopher Brookmyre is among the writers appearing at the pop-up festival “Glenrothes is the penultimate stop on our journey and ReimagiNation is all about looking at the places we think we know in new ways, and we hope the people of Glenrothes and book lovers everywhere will feel inspired by the stories that are shared at the festival.”

Scottish Crime Writer Val McDermid is among the writers appearing at the festivalClara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We are so delighted that the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is once again helping the Edinburgh International Book Festival reach communities across Scotland, allowing them access to what the Book Festival offers outwith its home in Charlotte Square Gardens.
“Residents from Glenrothes are certainly in for a treat.”

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