Edinburgh Festival Fringe until August 27
The inept am-dram group The Loch Parry Players prepare to stage their version of The Wicker Man… Wonder how that’ll end?
This National Theatre of Scotland presentation functions as both a witty and insightful deconstruction of 1970s cult movie The Wicker Man and a cleverly observed spoof of local amateur theatre groups. Reality, fantasy and paranoia collide as secrets are revealed, hidden relationships are uncovered, and a plot to burn someone (but not who you might expect) in a giant pagan wicker man is enacted.
Having mysteriously lost one leading man, the Loch Parry Players have enticed TV cop Rory Mulligan (Sean Biggerstaff, Chris in Big Finish’s audio version of Doctor Who: Shada) to star as mainland policeman (and sacrificial victim) Sergeant Howie. He discovers an amateur production (only one member of the theatre troupe appears to have seen the movie right through to the end), riven by jealousies and incompetence. As rehearsals proceed, though, Mulligan comes to believe something more sinister may be happening and he could end up in the wicker man himself! It’s a clever conceit, with several layers of reality collapsing together in a frantic climax.
Co-written and co-starring Still Game veteran Greg Hemphill, Appointment With the Wicker Man is a real treat. It is an accessible piece of self-aware theatre that also pays witty homage to a much-loved film, yet stands successfully as a worthwhile piece of work itself. It’s done with much love and affection, while refusing to take anything too seriously. The 100-minutes fly past, with musical numbers from the film re-enacted in such a way that you’ll never be able to look at the original the same way again.
Appointment With the Wicker Man cast member Jimmy Chisolm must be the hardest working man on the Fringe as he rushes across town to appear in a second performance (just 30 minutes later!) each day during August. He co-stars with Gavin Mitchell (another Still Game veteran) in a variety of roles in Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut, another play-within-a-play recreation of a classic movie. While Mitchell makes for an often uncanny Bogie, this is a flatter experience than Appointment With The Wicker Man, although no less enjoyable.
Other classic movie themed shows on the Fringe that might be of interest include Ewan Waldrop’s one man tribute to George Formby in Formby (recommended) and Marple, Murder and Me, exploring how Margaret Rutherford almost missed out on her iconic Miss Marple role.
Verdict: You should be burning with desire to see this show!
Appointment With The Wicker Man: 9/10
Brian J. Robb