A PERFECT GEM FOR THE EDINBURGH FRINGE

 

McNaughton
The Scottish Arts Club and The Space on the Mile.

This historical play, written by award winning playwright, Steve Gooch, and delicately directed by Christine Kimberley, tells the story of Glaswegian woodturner, Daniel McNaughton. In 1843, McNaughton was tried for the attempted murder of Prime Minister Robert Peel, and subsequent death of Peel’s secretary, whom he shot by mistake. This became a landmark case, which still applies today: The McNaughton Rules, a defense of insanity. Onto a darkened stage, dressed by a single stool, emerges McNaughton, played by local Scottish actor, Jason Harvey. This is an intense performance, one of passion, which skillfully portrays the mental instability of the woodturner turned assassin.

McNaughton was plagued by suspicion of those around him, convinced that everyone was trying to betray him. As an illegitimate child, his beginnings were imbalanced, and as he grew older, he experienced a mental break. Today we might label him; paranoid schizophrenic, voices echoed in McNaughton’s head for decades before the murder. Harvey’s brilliantly observed monologue is reinforced by audio playback of repeated phrases, representing his journey into madness. These effects may or may not be crucial to the production, but the defining glory of Gooch’s excellent piece is the haunting portrayal of its protagonist. Both play and performance are worthy of a wider audience.

 

 

 

Guest Reviewer: Kathryn S Kraus

Edited by Kevin Short


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