Dreich House

16 Jan 2013 in Dance & Drama, Highland, Moray, Showcase

Strathpeffer Pavilion, 14 January 2013

ASKED to produce a touring family show – but not a panto –  on a limited budget,  Wildbird’s Chris Lee has come up with an interesting production which is part film, part theatre and part storytelling session.

THE eponymous Dreich House is an ominous baronial pile in a remote, bleak glen where children who are unloved are sent by parents who don’t wish to see them again. Ever. The small print on Dreich House’s brochure promises a money-back guarantee if disappointed.

Rod Morrison in Dreich House (picture by Gary Anthony, courtesy Wildbird and Inverness Courier)

Rod Morrison in Dreich House (picture by Gary Anthony, courtesy Wildbird and Inverness Courier)

The show features one adult and seven child actors. Never act with children or animals, goes the actors’ adage, and indeed they steal the show effortlessly, especially the enchanting Sophia Woolnough as baby Ollie. This despite the fact that their appearances are all on back-projected film – shot against a green screen at Arts in Motion’s Evanton studio on an unfeasibly tight schedule. The backgrounds were then added in post-production.

Particular commendation for Merle Harbron (Ruby Love) on whose young shoulders the show partly rests. As Ruby Love,  she is entirely believable as the resourceful heroine, long abandoned by self-absorbed filmstar parents, who rescues the others from the clutches of the evil, scheming Lord Boltfast and his henchmen.

Meanwhile the adult inhabits his roles mostly on stage. Rod Morison has an unusually demanding task in theatrical terms; Dreich House is essentially a one-man show with the necessity of generating all the energy entirely alone. However, Morison also has to switch between a host of wildly different personas, from a Hollywood starlet to a slavering bloodthirsty hound, with the added pressure of timing his performance to the back-projected visuals. Morison’s performance has settled down since I saw it earlier in the run and the audience (sadly sparse on a snowy Strathpeffer Monday evening) enjoys the experience. It’s all good, clean, cartoon-ish fun, the only notable drawback being the soundtrack level which occasionally muffles the children’s recorded dialogue.

© Jennie Macfie, 2013