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Catch this Kidnapped – it's so now, so funny and so full of Highland heritage

By Margaret Chrystall

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National Theatre Of Scotland: Kidnapped

Eden Court


5 Stars

This latest National Theatre of Scotland production lets your imagination, your heart, your funnybone and your romantic Scottish soul get Kidnapped.

Kidnapped with Ryan J Mackay and Malcolm Cumming. Picture Laurence Winram
Kidnapped with Ryan J Mackay and Malcolm Cumming. Picture Laurence Winram

It’s a production that makes it look effortless to get pretty much everything right.

The soundtrack in particular is pure gold, with 80s synthpop harvested mercilessly to give laughs and break your heart (Yazoo’s Only You rearranged and reprised as Alan and Davie’s song). But the Nick Cave-style rewind on The Gambler and Alan’s melting performance of Gaelic song Hi Horo ‘S Na Horo Eile by Margaret Bennett, were inspired.

Some may not be happy that what was Robert Louis Stevenson’s adventure bromance, as opposites Lowland naïve boy David Balfour and roguish, heroic soft-centred Highlander Alan David Breck trek the Highlands on their own missions – is now also a tender rom-com.

And Malcolm Cumming and Ryan J Mackay are convincing as the friends who made an instant connection into real love.

As the two make an early pact to fulfill their tasks, an understated conversation says it all.

Alan warns Davie about the nature of pacts: ‘As soon as you make it you will want to back out of it. But it’s a vow and it makes us much more than good friends.

Davie says: ‘Like brothers or something?'

Alan replies with a heavy hint: ‘Or something …’.

But the love story is embedded in the all-action story that honours the original but constantly adds contemporary references to make sure we’re not getting bogged down in the history.

Yet there are smart little explanations to mean no-one’s in the dark and the storytelling can continue front and centre with everyone on board.

It’s actually overboard and over the side of the ship that has kidnapped Davie that one of the production’s best technical sequences comes, Davie ‘swimming’ through the air as he and Alan avert disaster.

Both are tested – and we see them learning lessons and growing through the play, despite all the swashbuckling, comic lines and massive support the strong ensemble cast.

But the story soars higher because of the sparkling performance and swashbuckling, daft, charming gorgeously romantic Highland hero Malcolm Cumming creates as Alan Breck Stewart. He even gets a grand entrance no-one is going to forget. But as well as the full-on energy that helps power this production, there are others like the understated final moments which meant he and Ryan J Mackay almost certainly left not a dry eye in the packed OneTouch.

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