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Theatre Review: The Croft ***

Joy Watters reviews a production with 'plenty going on to grab the attention' but suffers from a problematic script.

Perth opens the new season with a new play by a new writer. It is the only Scottish venue for Suffolk-based The Original Theatre Company’s The Croft by Ali Milles (correct).

What a wealth of experience brought together in the show. Gwen Taylor, now an unbelievable 80, returns to the stage, joined by Caroline Harker, and Philip Franks directs. The programme remains silent on writer Ali Milles, and ultimately it is the script wherein the problems for this work lie.

The Croft brings together a variety of styles, from emotional drama to thriller, and it is clear that Milles is bursting with ideas. There is a need however to make a clear narrative from the range of themes.

There are three stories set in different timescales but all taking place in the remote Applecross croft. First, it is the home of Enid (Gwen Taylor) who is fighting eviction as part of the Highland Clearances. Her ghost haunts the action which then moves to the recent past and the present.

Caroline Harker effortlessly plays a woman with marital woes and breast cancer, and also an older woman leaving her husband and family for a younger woman.

Four actors are required to double up roles, changing clothes to denote the character and time shifts backwards and forwards. As the pace accelerates, it becomes less clear when the action is taking place.

However, there is plenty going on to grab the attention: a ghost story, emotional challenges, coping with a range of relationships while trying to keep everyone happy and a bit of shameful history.

Runs until Saturday February 8.

Tags: theatre

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