In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic that has swept the globe, forcing numerous theatres to close their doors with theatrical productions having to be put on hold, Citadel Arts Group have refused to be silenced. The Leith-based community theatre group have continued their work by giving a voice to older people through their ‘Citadel Goes Viral’ project; in which members have embraced new technology to create online audio dramas that explore life and tragedy in the new normal.
The first offering is The Duchess of Kirkcaldy by Alan Mountford, a short but impactful monologue that serves as a refrain to days gone by. Mark Kydd awaits a train at Aberdour Station. In typical fashion, it is late and as he waits he recalls memories of the station in its heyday: meeting his future wife there, watching the trains go by, and bonding over their love of The Beatles – especially the song that the piece draws its name from (‘Cry Baby Cry’).
Kydd’s voice resonates with emotion as he recalls these moments, and it maintains throughout. The piece takes a darker turn as the speaker recalls the last time he saw his wife before her death. While a brief facet in a very short play (approximately five minutes in total), it’s nonetheless heartbreaking to consider the clinical nature of a death during this time – isolated from loved ones, attended by unfamiliar people and strange surroundings.
The piece takes an even darker turn in its closing moments for a finale that is both abrupt and shocking. The short nature of The Duchess of Kirkcaldy makes it all the more sudden, and this is at once impactful and jarring. Although Mountford writes passionately and with talent, the shortness is something of a hindrance.
It would benefit from some better pacing in order to further flesh out the individuals recalled to the audience and ultimately create even more emotion. Moreover, it would ensure that the piece didn’t feel as though it was racing to the end or running late for a train.
The Duchess of Kirkcaldy can be streamed online through the Citadel Goes Viral Page here