National Theatre of Scotland bring their laugh-a-minute production of Appointment with the Wicker Man under the guise of The Loch Parry Players to Assembly Music Hall at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Set as an amateur production of The Wicker Man, The Loch Parry Players have to draft in a last minute professional actor to take over a part. The excitement is palpable as Rory Mulligan (Sean Biggerstaff), well known for his TV roles, brings a touch of professionalism to this otherwise amateur group. Yet all is not quite as it seems, as artistic director Finlay Fothergill (Greg Hemphill) injects a sense of musicality into the otherwise straight acting Wicker Man. Under the command of Callum Guthrie (Johnny McKnight), with plenty of jazz hands and campery, The Loch Parry Players twirl and sing their way through their version of the show.
I’m not one to be taken with comedy or farce, but you can’t help but be won over by Vicky Featherstone’s production, that is on par with the likes of the National Theatre’s smash hit One Man, Two Guvnors. With dodgy sets, lights that fall from the rig and some truly shocking dance numbers, Appointment with the Wicker Man is some truly shocking theatre, but don’t be fooled – that is exactly the point! Taking a slight mocking tone towards the hundreds of amateur productions that get put on throughout Scotland and England, the Loch Parry Players do their best to turn The Wicker Man into anything but a hard-hitting drama.
Greg Hemphill and Donald McLeary’s script is witty and gay, full of sexual romping and askew versions of The Wicker Man, and held together with a thrilling narrative. The characters really come to life in all their technicolour, with excellent performances from the cast as a whole and particular standouts including Sally Reid as the young Marie, Biggerstaff as Rory and McKnight’s Callum. It really is a performance of unexpected events and plot turns that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats and holding their sides from laughing so much – what a treat for audiences young and old alike!
Appointment with the Wicker Man really is a joy, and whilst the National Theatre of Scotland are one of the bigger companies performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, that doesn’t make them any less deserving of praise and ticket buying. You’ll be foolish not to catch this production after a successful tour, oustanding cast and imaginative direction. See it!
***** – 5/5 Stars
Appointment with the Wicker Man is playing at Assembly Music Hall until 26 August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.