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Theatre Review: And Then Come the Nightjars

Joy Watters reviews a touring production that shows varying portraits of a male relationship.

This cross-border co-production began the Scottish leg of its tour at the Byre, St Andrews: an appropriate setting for the starting point of the story, which is the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001. Set in a cowshed in Devon, it is a two-hander initially pitching a farmer against the vet whose job is to destroy the cattle.

Written by Bea Roberts and directed by Paul Robinson, it was first staged by the Bristol Old Vic and Theatre 503 and toured in England; it has a resonance for the battle that is agriculture all over the UK and could have easily been set in Scotland.

Finlay Welsh is the curmudgeonly farmer Michael, who slowly reveals his inner feelings, and Nigel Hastings the extrovert vet, Jeff, who struggles to keep his private and working lives separate. The two men are facing personal loss, Michael of his wife and Jeff who is doing a fine job of ruining his marriage quaffing vast quantities of alcohol.

The epidemic is over and the pair still stick together. Jeff throws in his lot with Michael with suggestions of how to capitalise on the land. They rub along together in a varying portrait of a male relationship.

There are strangely portentous snatches of music linking the scenes as the pair travel through the years, and the dramatic impact of the opening scenes is somewhat diluted.

And Then Come the Nightjar tours until April 29.

Tags: theatre

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