Amy catches up with Graeme Dalling and Shilpa T-Hyland of Wickies The Vanishing Men of Eilean Mor, which is on at Park Theatre now! Graeme is starring as Donald MacArthur in the show, and Shilpa is directing. Scroll to read the interviews in full!


Hi Graeme, how are you feeling ahead of opening night?

Really excited! I can’t wait to get the play in front of an audience. So much of the atmosphere of the play is going to be the collective tension in the audience so I’m looking forward to that.

What attracted you to the production?

The script  by Paul Morrissey is incredible and really brings these characters alive. A lot of what’s written is what their real life counterparts actually said so that makes sense! I loved the story, the mystery, the one location setting, the relationship and interplay between the 3 men and the complete Scottishness of the whole thing!

Can you give us a brief synopsis of Wickies: The Vanishing Men of Eilean Mor?

Three lighthouse keepers on a lighthouse in the outer Hebrides seemingly vanish into thin air without a trace! That’s a good starting point. I’ll let everything else be a surprise.

What is your favourite moment in the show?

I don’t know if I have a favourite moment yet, but so far I’m loving the scenes of domesticity in the lighthouse. They seem perfunctory but there’s so much subtext and so much to explore in there. And I’m loving being able to work with Jamie and Ewan.

You play Donald MacArthur, tell us about this role. 

That a lighthouse is the perfect place for him. He’s a stoic, brooding, quiet man who just wants to put his head down and do the work. Initially the isolation and loneliness fits him perfectly but ultimately becomes his undoing. There is an unpredictability to him, a lot of repressed rage and pent up aggression. It’s been a lot of fun so far!

What can audiences expect from this production?

A real thrill! A tense, claustrophobic ghost story, with lots of twists and turns and a few surprises. It has a dark sense of humour but I hope with a lot of heart. A study on isolation and loneliness, and man’s incapability to communicate with each other!

And finally, why should people book a ticket to the show?

Who wouldn’t want to spend 2 hours in a lighthouse with 3 Scottish men?? This is the season for a good old fashioned ghost story, and the added bonus is our play is set at Christmas!


Hi Shilpa, how are you feeling ahead of opening night?

Excited, and a little nervous (I always am). I’m really looking forward to seeing what audiences make of Wickies.

What attracted you to the production?

I’ve always loved ghost stories so the chance to get to play with that as a style and make some spooky things happen on stage was a fun proposition. I was also drawn to the very human story at the centre: three men doing a difficult job and trying to get on in as remote a spot as you can get.

What’s your vision for this show?

I’m interested in ghostliness and how it manifests in different ways in this play. There are spooky stories and strange happenings, but there is also the story of these three lighthouse keepers who we know from the beginning are missing. I hope as we see them inhabit the lighthouse that we get a sense of the mark these men left in time, as well as a bit of a fun scare.

What are the important themes and messages in the production?

There are a lot of pressures on the lighthouse keepers and it’s hard for them to open up to each other. As Victorian men this is perhaps exacerbated by their society, but I think there are parallels we can all recognise: moments where we are haunted by the ideas or problems we carry with us.

What’s the secret to being a good director?

I’m not sure I know! I try to bring honesty, respect, rigour and fun with me into a rehearsal process, but above all, for me I think it’s about facilitating a really collaborative process.

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming creatives?

Find your peer community, people you can make work with, but also share your experiences with. See and read plays when you can but don’t break the bank. Find ways to nourish your creativity around your theatre practice however that works for you: read, go to a museum, paint, scrapbook, research random things on the internet whatever keeps your brain creative!

What is your favourite part of Wickies: The Vanishing Men of Eilean Mor?

I’m rubbish at favourites so it’ll probably change every show. At the moment though, there are various echoes of movement and text that happen throughout the show and I’m finding that interesting to work on. There is also a little bit of knitting at one point which gives me great satisfaction!

And finally, why should people book a ticket to the show?

As the winter nights draw in, it’s the perfect time of year for a spooky story. Come for sea shanties, ghost stories, a little bit of a scare, and the story of three good men who remain mysteriously missing to this day.


Wickies: The Vanishing Men of Eilean Mor is on at Park Theatre from the 30th of November until the 17th of December.

Tickets are from £18.50


Leave a Reply