Moonlight on Leith, Theatre show at the Free Fringe, Edinburgh 2018. Bar Bados Room 1, Venue 32 Cowgate. Aug 5-6, 8-13, 15-20, 22-25. 20.00 hrs. Adult.
The free fringe is gi-normous and btw it’s not all one programme there are lots of free fringes with slightly different names. My advice: give yourself ample time to find Moonlight on Leith in the backroom upstairs at Venue 32 of Bar Bados – oh, if it’s like this now, what will it be like in four week’s time!
The young ClartyBurd Theatre Company who perform this show are spirited and well rehearsed, they are versatile and they have a mission: #SaveLeithWalk. The show is to be unhappily found amongst the litter and debris of the Cowgate, but its heart is firmly on Leith Walk and the banks of the Shore. This brave piece of writing – I would go so far as to say the Scottish Under Milk Wood – spins yarns of local citizens: from Mrs Potts, the earth mother with an underlying rage and generally disinterested yuppie husband; to Hank, the policeman abused by his wife and secretly in love with Sandy the prostitute who doesn’t work on Sundays (something to do with God).
The five performers (four female and one male), directed and co-written by Laila Noble (with Emilie Robson) sport plain dungarees and hold lightbulb torches. Other than the iced buns and the furry cat’s claws there are not many other props. Like all the best young theatre companies operating on a shoestring, they are resourceful and artful. Each person takes many roles, declaims in various accents (most are more than passable, and all operate a ‘barry’ Leith dialect) and plays male as well as female characters.
With poetic expression – “foxtrotting across the sky”, “blind with libation”, “joyriding juveniles” – and especially once they warm up, they twist their tongues around the flowery language ((that’s not a criticism) and the phrases flow pleasingly, comically. There is a great audience tonight, singing along to ‘no never, no more’ before it even starts and that encourages them to ‘gie it laldy’ (in the ‘vigorous or energetic action’ sense of the words).
The tour de force which is Moonlight is both a celebration of this peculiar village within a city boundary, and a protest at the sort of town planning which is out of touch with the community having seemingly given the green light to yet more student accommodation and another hotel in place of the current 1930s red sandstone Stead’s Place which includes the popular Leith Depot music venue.
It says a “resounding no” to this so-called development and a clear message to ‘preserve our heritage’ which encompasses the architecture, yes, but more importantly the people at the heart of Leith.