In 2019, to mark the 90th anniversary of the publication of Strichen born Lorna Moon’s critically acclaimed book Dark Star, Edinburgh theatre company Awkward Stranger staged Doorways in Drumorty. The play, based on Lorna Moon’s stories, had a Scottish tour, and was written by fellow Aberdonian, Mike Gibb. The result was just over 2 hours of couthie theatrical delight that captured the world of sma’ toun livin’ that had been so acutely observed by Moon with Gibb deftly picking up the baton.
Two years later, a film has been created by director Andy Corelli with the aim of producing a free film for care homes around Scotland acknowledging the devastating impact of the past year. Reducing the original running time to an hour, the stories are again seamlessly interwoven using head shots of the three original actors, Estrid Barton, Fraser Sievewright and Lucy Goldie, against a series of sweetly rendered backdrops of streets and house and shop interiors from graphic designer Kirstin Rodger, who also did the set design for the stage production. The film is bookended with the lovely voices of Karen Dietz and Izzy Flower singing Mormond Braes and Morag a Dunbheagain.
The three actors again sublimely perform the pithy script in clear North East Scots, known in these parts as the Doric, bringing out the delicious humour that’s laced throughout the piece like the curtained windaes of Drumorty hooses! Moon’s clear view of humanity makes for touching reading with the values and harsh morals of the day counterbalanced by the courage of Jessie McLean’s rising above pettiness and cruelty in the story of Bessie Tocher and her ‘misbegotten bairn’ and the interpretation of Moon’s story Silk Both Sides manages to be touching, humorous and heart breaking.
The ingenuity of performing in a small space like Riddles Court, where the Edinburgh leg of the tour took place, has been shifted to the further limits of the small screen. The socially distanced film, directed by Andy Corelli and edited by Fierce Beastie Productions, premiered on 18th June. Unlike many recently made art projects, it wasn’t made on Zoom. Instead each actor filmed themselves, reading their lines only using a very small pocket camera, with accommodating partners reading other characters’ lines from the wings and the camera then being posted to the next actor. How’s that for teamwork?
The result is sure to provide entertainment that can be enjoyed again and again in its dvd form, and possibly evoke memories of events or of reading, or inspiring to read the wonderful Lorna Moon, who went on to be a Hollywood screenwriter.
The Doorways in Drumorty Film is supported by The Doric Board, Cumbernauld Theatre and The Scottish Government and to date 100 DVDs have been produced by Cumbernauld for care homes and the community, with requests coming in from as far afield as The Shetland Isles for copies.