Writer: Peter Arnott
Music: John Kielty
Director: Kenny Ireland
Reviewer: Francesca Parker
The Public Reviews Rating:
From the producers of Sunset Song and The Silver Darlings, Aberdeen Performing Arts presents The Cone Gatherers marking the centenary year of the birth of the author of the novel, Robert Jenkins. In an original adaptation of Jenkins’ novel, the critically acclaimed Scottish writer Peter Arnott masterfully adapts the literature for stage. In conjunction with Arnott’s powerful script, creative direction from Kenny Ireland and an extremely effective set design realised by Hayden Griffin, The Cone Gathers is a wonderful example of unique and innovative theatre.
The Cone Gatherers explores the societal themes of prejudice and oppression, through the dramatic distinction between the gentry and the relation to their servants. The heightened tensions that are ever-present between the classes are intensified by the complex psychological state of the central character Duror, (Tom McGovern). The audience is exposed to the dark and twisted nature of the tortured game-keepers mind through his fixation with handicapped Callum (Ben Winger), the sickness of his wife Peggy (Helen Logan),, the voices in his head and the isolation he encountered in the forest. The performance twists, turns and manifests itself to be a tale of injustice, ignorance and insanity.
For those unfamiliar with the story of The Cone Gatherers, it echoes the world famous Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men. Parallels can be drawn from the relationship between both sets of brothers and the imbalanced temperament of the land manager. The set design is certainly one of the main strengths behind the success of the production. The use of visual projection enables swift transitions to be made from the outside world to the luxurious confinements of a stately home. When combined with the minimalistic use of props and the engagement with one’s imagination, the set is extremely striking. Karen Berry’s artistic choreography uses a combination of modern dance and expressive movement to depict the physical difficulties of Duror’s wife and the disturbing psychological imbalance in the Duror’s mind. The musical accompaniment during the performance, both vocal and instrumental is another means by which the creative team have reinforced the feeling of suspense and tension in the audience. The Cone Gatherers is an exemplary display of Scottish performing and writing talent. It leaves you with a profound sense of unease – prompting the gathering of one’s thoughts on the notions of identity and self. Not to be missed.
Runs until 27 OctoberThe Cone Gatherers - King's Theatre, Edinburgh,