Give yourself ample time to find Moonlight on Leith in the backroom upstairs at the labyrinthine Bar Bados – oh, if it’s like this now, what will it be like in four week’s time?
The young ClartyBurd Theatre Company who perform this show are spirited and well rehearsed, they are versatile and they have a mission: #SaveLeithWalk. The show is to be unhappily found amongst the litter and debris of the Cowgate, but its heart is firmly on Leith Walk and the banks of the Shore. This brave piece of new writing – similar in style to Under Milk Wood – spins yarns of local citizens: from Mrs Potts, the earth mother with an underlying rage and generally disinterested yuppie husband; to Hank, the policeman abused by his wife and secretly in love with Sandy the prostitute who doesn’t work on Sundays (something to do with God).
The five performers include the director and co-writer (with Emilie Robson) Laila Noble. They sport dungarees and hold bare light bulb torches. This is not a snazzy evening, it is down-to-earth and an excellent way for the young actors to cut their teeth. Other props include cherry iced buns (held against the chest) and furry cat’s claws (although amusing, the French accent was more Clouseau than Alain Delon). Like all the best fledgling theatre companies operating on a shoestring, they are resourceful and artful. This is not an amateur company, nor are they highly seasoned actors, instead they are at the start of their careers, showing promise with gusto.
With poetic expression – “foxtrotting across the sky”, “blind with libation”, “joyriding juveniles” – they initially stumble over some of the flowery language but once they warm up, the phrases flow pleasingly, comically. There is a great, supportive audience tonight, singing along to “no never, no more” before it even starts and that encourages them to “gie it laldy“.
The tour de force which is Moonlight is both a celebration of this peculiar village within a city boundary, and a protest at the sort of town planning which is out of touch with the community having seemingly given the green light to yet more student accommodation and another hotel in place of the current 1930s red sandstone Stead’s Place which includes the popular Leith Depot music venue.
It says a resounding no to this so-called development and a clear message to “preserve our heritage” which encompasses the architecture, yes, but more importantly the people at the heart of Leith.