Leith has both a colourful past and present, a flavour of which is captured as Leith Moves, a collaboration between Active Inquiry and Strange Town which brings us some entertaining and enlightening snapshots of the history of its docks. This is a somewhat immersive experience as the players mingle and to some degree, interact with, the audience. The playing area is the entire space, set out like a pub, in which the focus shifts to three different areas. The atmosphere of a lively local is fondly recreated through the ebullient energy of the cast, who excel at chorus type group work. Indeed this group work notably well together when breaking into hearty song – and together they make a great sound. While their vigour is an asset, it also leads to a little too much shouting and some lack of naturalism in the acting (particular the background acting taking place while a main scene unfolds elsewhere in the room), from which this intimate venue would benefit.
The piece takes us on an enjoyably educational journey and the script, peppered with wit and some nice quirks that side step the obvious, gives us some comical moments. The stories flow well and it is visually very pleasing thanks to slick, well designed lighting and highly effective staging. There’s no stage as such, in that the action takes place all around the room, but the use of tables and the bar to create a higher level on which the actors can work, adds an extra dimension. As a whole this is well devised and cleverly directed to set scenes that enable the unfolding of the stories within.
Tales From The Hanging Captain is quite unusual in terms of subject matter and is a real community experience, something that is encouraging to see in local theatre. It would benefit from the further refining and development of many of the characterisations along with some voice and dialect work, but it is an entertaining and warming production presented by a thoroughly committed cast.