It’s all guns a blazing for the sublime Gaelic speaking western performed in the heart of the Highlands.
Inverness’s Eden Court Theatre played host to Stornoway, Quebec, a cracking play written by Calum L MacLeòid for Scotland’s Gaelic language drama company, Theatre Gu Leòr.
The year is 1888 and the place is Stornoway, far away from its namesake in the Outer Hebrides, instead a small and forgotten town in the Canadian outback.
Five people with very different personalities and needs are trapped in a saloon as a blizzard rages outside. As they turn to moonshine and whisky for comfort, so things begin to take a turn.
Notorious Québécoise-Gaelic outlaw Donald Morrison is being chased by bounty hunters and a heavily armed detective agency and he heads to the saloon for safety.
But unbeknown to him, he is also being hunted by gun-slinging cattle rustler Màiri MacNeill from Barra, a woman he thought he had left behind in Texas.
What unfolds is an imaginative and full on Wild West adventure, full of spills and thrills. Based on the real historical life of Donald Morrison, once the most wanted man in Canada, the play is non-stop.
Its star, Màiri, is played with much gusto and mischief by Elspeth Turner and she slips effortlessly between Gaelic and English as she centres her anger on Morrison who betrayed her and her obvious hatred for the instigators of the Highland Clearances.
Designer Becky Minto’s perfect bar room is ideal for the story which unfolds as its owners Jean-Baptiste and Uilleamina Bouchard, played with spirit by MJ Deans and Sam James Smith are dragged into the battle.
Dòl l Eion MacKinnon is the perfect foil as Morrison and the cast is completed by pompous and ruthless businessman turned politician Major Malcolm MacAuley, played with energy by Daibhidhl Walker.
Directed by Theatre Gu Leòr’s founder Muireann Kelly in her final production before she heads off to her new role at the National irish Language Theatre in Galway, the play is seamless and full of action.
In between the rufty tufty drinking and fighting, there are touching scenes between Màiri and Uilleamina as they bond over their emotional battles of children lost.
A fascinating and fast-moving story which rounds off its Scottish tour at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre from 13th to 15th April. Check out www.tron.co.uk for ticket availability.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.
Photographs by Mihaela Bodlovic