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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From Dawn Till Dusk with Val McDermid…

CRIME writer and Raith Rovers sponsor Val McDermid is also the writer of Margaret Saves Scotland, her first play. Directed by Marilyn Imrie and featuring Tori Burgess, Simon Donaldson and Clare Waugh, it premiers in Glasgow before touring to Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

IT doesn’t matter what time the alarm goes off, I resent it. I’m not good with mornings. I weigh myself, shower, dress and head for my Aeropress. Then a process that requires a series of automatic actions and no thought. Grind beans, boil kettle, put filter paper in Aeropress, add coffee, place on mug, pour water and push the piston down.

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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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