21/08/2020 - 25/08/2020

Nelson Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

1792. In the midst of a scarlet fever outbreak a boy wakes from a fever-dream deeply agitated by a chilling vision. Years later the nurse who attended him, alone in a remote farmhouse and tending to her desperately ill baby, tries in vain to keep the memory of his vision at bay.

Nelson Fringe 2020 | Adopted by Louise Douglas 

Available online from the 21st to the 25th of August 

Note: This show has been filmed at NCMA adhering to Level 2 protocols and will be presented online. 

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Fiona - Rebecca Carty 
Rory - Vaughan Birss 
Cailleach - Judene Edgar

Stage Manager - Zander Gifford 
Producer - Jo Eaglestone

Theatre ,

50 mins

A Chilling Tale Beautifully Done

Review by Lisa Allan 22nd Aug 2020

Writers Kate Shaw and Monica Pausina have crafted a chilling tale that is uncluttered and yet rich with detail. Knowing that it is inspired by a real-life vision shared by Monica’s Great, Great, Great (?) Uncle, makes it all the more visceral. As I sit down to write this review, a part of me remains in the remote farmhouse in 1792 with Fiona and her feverish child, waiting for the doctor to arrive on St Brigid’s Eve. Such is the vivid and compelling nature of this work.

The staging is simple. We see Fiona (Rebecca Myers), wrapped in a shawl, sitting in a chair. Next to her, a table and a set of shelves containing a few odds and ends to evoke the era. On her other side, a crying baby in a cradle. This set-up is further embellished through Fiona’s dialogue but it doesn’t feel rushed or forced, as exposition sometimes can. It is simple and the result is a quick grounding in the world of the play, St Brigid’s Eve. And it is a short play, around 13 minutes, so this aspect is incredibly important to have nailed.

Myers is a gentle and believable presence as Fiona. She holds the space without effort and as she sings to soothe her babe, her Irish heritage shines through. Lilting notes and unexpected melodies add a beautiful sense of depth to the world that is being woven and I am immediately charmed and endeared to both the actor and the character by this surprise gift of song. 

The present and past intertwine. Fiona tries to resist the memory of the latter and her inner struggle is strongly depicted through the surprise revelation (thanks to the excellent use of lighting) of another character on stage, Rory (Vaughan Birss), a young boy almost violently tossing and turning in bed. I love this use of metaphor and think it a very clever stage convention from first time director, Monica Pausina. 

As Fiona succumbs to the bubbling up of the past and the piece plays out, we are privy to the story of St Brigid and what happens on her Eve. However, we are quickly invited into the shadow side of this, the balance to the light, arriving in the form of Cailleach (Judene Edgar), the one who marks the ending of things.

All three actors play their parts perfectly, bringing their aspect of the story to life in their unique way. As the piece draws to a close, I find myself wondering just how the writers will manage to tie it all up without choosing one of the obvious options. Before I can even steel myself for potential disappointment, I am swept into an ending I had not considered and left with a deep appreciation for this gem of a show. 

It must be noted that this version of the play was filmed, the actors had only a day’s notice, their rehearsal period was cut short and I viewed the play as part of the Bay Landscapes Nelson Fringe Virtual Festival 2020. Despite all this, the qualities of this chilling tale, beautifully done, shine through – as does the resilience and adaptability of our arts sector.

Kia kaha all.  


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