Otago Boys High School, Dunedin

20/03/2013 - 23/03/2013

Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

22/09/2012 - 23/09/2012

Dunedin Fringe 2013

Hamilton Fringe 2012

Production Details

A narrated dramatisation in both song and scene, telling the story of the ‘Stuart’ Prince, ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, in 1745, raising a Highland army to take on the Hanoverian government in London. Success would mean placing his father, James, on the throne of England and Scotland. Defeat would mean catastrophe for the Highlanders. 

This is the 4th dramatisation of an historical event that McLachlan and Mooney have worked on together.

The performance uses a cast of 40+ including actors, singers, soloists, traditional Scottish dancers, Bag pipers and fiddler.

Staged in one act and lasting about an hour it gives the audience a taste of Scotland almost 300 years ago.

Featuring a mixed age group from age 4yrs. through to 60+ who bring a range of talents and mood to the performance. From the Battle scenes to the poignant songs. Coming together from different levels of theatre experience but sharing the passion for their Celtic roots.

Performed at The Meteor Theatre
At 6pm
Saturday 22 and Sunday 23rd September 2012
Price: Koha/Gold coin entry
tickets on sale 1 hr prior to show for each show  

Dunedin Fringe 2013
Otago Boys High School 
March 21, 23 2013 

An admirable venture

Review by Terry MacTavish 23rd Mar 2013

Ye canna lay claim to the proud name o’ MacTavish wi’oot your heart stirrin’ at the skirl o’ the pipes!*  And the pipers are here in full splendour outside the stunning Victorian Gothic castle that is Otago Boys High School. It is the perfect, appropriate venue for one of the most fascinating enterprises of the Fringe.  A group of around 30 passionate enthusiasts from Hamilton has actually saved the pennies to travel to Dunedin to present the sad, proud history of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Scottish uprising of 1745. 

In a combined effort that doubtless rivals the battle plans of the Caledonians, many locals, including students from at least four schools, have been recruited to swell the cast. The performers of Hamilton and Dunedin, after rehearsing separately, had just one day to bring it all together. It is a phenomenal undertaking that results in nearly sixty dedicated performers of all ages sharing an experience they will not forget.

The tale of Bonnie Prince Charlie, his claim to the throne, and the terrible defeat inflicted by the English on the Scots at Culloden in ’45, is both romantic and tragic. Though it has all the ingredients of a thrilling story, the outcome was so terrible it strikes a deep chord yet in the hearts of many Scots. The consequences to Scotland were far-reaching and, due to the infamous Clearances, in part account for Dunedin’s very existence. It’s odd we’re looking to Hamilton to remind us, but we’re grateful.

The format, scripted by Alec Calderwood, is straightforward: Gregor Campbell narrates the story to children sitting at his feet, while the scenes he describes are enacted without dialogue.  As the Young Pretender, Tyler Baker, bearing a resemblance to Prince William, accepts allegiance and raises his standard. The battles are vigorously conducted, and the crowd scenes are enlivened with bagpipes, fiddles and sword dancing. 

An onstage choir in good voice sings the beloved songs of Scotland: Charlie is m’darling of course, and the Skye Boatsong, and somehow Marie’s Wedding is in there.  Most poignant of all, as the young men go off to fight, “But me and my true love will never meet again, on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond…”

The open stage of the Maurice Joel Theatre at OBHS is just right for the large cast and the scenes of combat or village life.  Slides of key events and people are projected onto the cyclorama, smoke billows over the battlefields, and the auditorium is creatively used, with highland warriors making their famous downhill charge from the back of the theatre. The costumes may not stand up to close scrutiny (and women didn’t wear kilts in ’45), but the overall effect is fine, with the tartans clearly opposing the smart red jackets of the English.

It is a frankly amateur production, and that is part of its charm.  You might call it folk-theatre, a community involvement where telling their own story truthfully, matters more than the egos of the actors. The stolid demeanour of the serious narrator with the beautiful Scots accent, the occasional jostling to remember positions onstage, odd bumps in the wings, the anxious tugging at a sleeve to conceal a modern watch, the bairns’ sly peeks at the audience: all have an endearing quality because of the sincerity of the intention.

Even the cynical may find it hard not to shed a tear, when the families gather round the slain at the Battle of Culloden. The description of the virtual genocide that followed is shocking. And finally the Clearances, the actors drifting forlornly away as the Highlanders are forced to emigrate. Which brings us back to Dunedin.

This really is an admirable venture, for some the realisation of a dream, and deserves a full house on its second and final performance on Saturday. Welcome to the Edinburgh of the South, Hamilton!

*If there is any of Clan Campbell in trouble tonight, tak note – we MacTs rise for the Campbells of Argyll!  Not for naught is oor motto: “We do not forget!” – gie us a text anytime!


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When Harry meets Charlie

Review by Julianne Boyle 23rd Sep 2012

From the wings, the distinctive sound of bagpipes.  

Happily chatting about some Harry Potter movie, an excited group of children, together with Uncle Ian, walk across the traverse stage. He’s about to tell them a different story, one that, like Harry Potter, has connections with Glenfinnan.

Bonnie Prince Charlie is described in the Fringe programme as “a narrated play in both song and scene which tells of the ‘Stuart’ Prince in 1745 raising a Highland army to take on the Hanoverian government in London.”

Uncle Ian, played by Ian Bisset, tells the story in a lecture style, interspersed with music, song, dance and vignettes of the unfolding action. Given the size of the Meteor venue, it is unusual for a performer to be using a microphone and there are some technical difficulties.

The large, enthusiastic cast are, predominantly, members of Hamilton’s Celtic Community. It’s a real family event, with all age groups represented on stage.

Filling the space with a colourful mix of tartans, they set about re-enacting this pivotal period in Scottish history. Included are Highland village scenes, Scottish dancing, various battles, a banquet at Holyrood Palace and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape to Skye.

It’s a great opportunity for the two young dancers to show off their steps. The battle scenes are well orchestrated, using lighting, sound and smoke effects for atmosphere. A boat is brought on stage for the escape scene.

Music is an important element in this production. In addition to the bagpipes, there are also featured performances on the fiddle, tin whistle and drums.

Supporting the narrative action, a choir sings well-known Scottish folk songs relating to the period, including Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond, My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean and Mairi’s Wedding. It would have been a nice touch to have listed information about the music in the programme for those audience members not so familiar with these songs.

I would also have liked some scripted dialogue to have been included in the vignettes. This would have aided characterisation.

The production has definitely helped me extend my knowledge of this period in history. I now understand the reason for including a glass of water in a Scottish toast and have a much greater appreciation of the involvement of the Highland clans in the Jacobite insurgency. 

If you love history or anything to do with Scotland, check out this show.


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