The National Theatre of Scotland has reinvented another classic; following the acclaimed success of Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of), Isobel McArthur has joined forces again with Michael John McCarthy to bring a new adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped. This version of the so-called ‘swashbuckling rom-com adventure’, co-directed by McArthur and Gareth Nicholls, is running at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal before continuing on tour around Scotland and England.

Credti: Mihaela Bodlovic

The tongue-in-cheek full title of the original novel pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the plot: ‘Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Castaway; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; His Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth by Robert Louis Stevenson’.

This version of Kidnapped adds a queer romance element to David (“Davie”) and Alan’s relationship, which gives new urgency to the various elements at stake on their serendipitous travels. The audience laps this up, cheering for the duo as they find themselves following each other around Scotland by ship and on foot.

Our narrator is Robert Louis Stevenson’s widow, Frances, played by Kim Ismay. She opens the show with several of the talented actor-musician cast (and on-stage musical director Isaac Savage) with uplifting folky energy, before introducing us to the tale.

Frances kindly informs us that she will “lean over” occasionally to sprinkle her influence on the story. The idea of including the writer’s muse is a well-intentioned one, and Ismay is very likeable as Frances, but the additional narration feels largely unconnected to the Kidnapped plotline and doesn’t have much impact until very near the end of the show.

Ryan J MacKay is endearing and innocent as the young protagonist Davie and is delightfully bashful around Alan (played suavely by Malcolm Cumming). The remainder of the cast impressively juggles several parts, garnering much laughter from the audience as sailors (not pirates, thank you very much), vicars, barmen, and more!

Some purposefully vague dialogue about the current monarch ‘King Charles’ and the burdens of being Scottish send out a wave of chuckles around the Theatre Royal. The writing team’s signature use of karaoke songs to propel the story is a feature in this production, along with a few party scenes peppered throughout. These elements feel a bit more shoehorned in than those included in their previous Austen adaptation (where balls and music were a more central part of the plot), but the delightfully chaotic gear shifts certainly make for a fun evening out.

A real highlight of the show, something the National Theatre of Scotland do very well, is fully immersing the BSL performance interpreters (Amy Cheskin and Sarah Forrester) within the show, providing more moments for self-aware comedy rather than simply having an interpreter stand in a corner of the stage throughout.

Ben Ormerod’s contrasting lighting design is bright and colourful for the party sequences, and dark and gloomy to depict the Scottish weather. Anna Orton’s set and costume design is an imaginative blend of the old and new, including road traffic signs, Jacobite shirts, and an impressively long pirate beard!

For fans of Pride and Prejudice (*sort of), or a good adventurous romp, this new version of Kidnapped brings Robert Louis Stevenson to a modern audience with a hefty sprinkle of fun.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Kidnapped is on tour until the 20th May 2023, heading to: Edinburgh, Inverness, Perth, Newcastle and Brighton. You can find tickets and more info here!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, High Tide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE
    Drum roll please…(Cue a literal drum rolling across the stage.) The Lyric pantomime is one of traditions with the return of many well-loved jokes and skits. Costumes and sets are all made at the Lyric itself by Good Teeth, with set pieces being reused year on year. This year Cinderella gets the Hammersmith makeover, with some success. The costuming is fun and vibrant, with the ugly stepsisters’ equine pyjamas and hoop-skirted ball gowns giving all the wrong kinds of extra you need for those characters. Cinderella’s on stage dress transformation is magical and really well-timed. The Dame, Lady Jelly-Bottom’s, outfits … More CINDERELLA – REVIEW – LYRIC HAMMERSMITH
    Amy catches up with Linus Karp ahead of his performance of Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, at London’s Clapham Grand. Linus and Joseph of Awkward Productions are also the masterminds behind the new show Gwyneth Goes Skiing. Hello Your Majesty/ Candle Entrepreneur, how are you feeling coming back from a hugely successful fringe and triumphant tour across your kingdom, ahead of performing in front of 700 of your loyal subjects, and before (the list never ends!) opening a brand new show, which has recently gone viral? Exhausted, exhilarated and alive. We’ve had the most ridiculous year – I feel … More INTERVIEW – LINUS KARP – DIANA: THE UNTOLD AND UNTRUE STORY

Leave a Reply