Pitlochry Festival Theatre nestles on the hillside, overlooking the town and the RiverTummel, with its dam and salmon ladder. It’s a wonderful setting, and the theatre building itself, in timber, slate and glass, occupies the space with modest confidence. One of our party today remembered that long ago, the theatre had its origins in a marquee pitched on the grass; and that must have been a very special dramatic experience indeed.
The company who performed for us this afternoon will be performing a different play tonight, and different plays again throughout the week; ‘Stay six days and see six plays,’ as the slogan goes. An amazing repertory achievement – I can barely remember my shopping list these days, never mind a whole script – to say nothing of six scripts! Today’s matinee was ‘A Chorus of Disapproval’ by Alan Ayckbourn. It’s a farce about an amateur operatic company putting on a show, with the naive new boy getting into all kinds of scrapes with the cynical old hands. I loved it – I thought the script was clever and witty, the direction seamless, and the acting excellent. The performance by the long-suffering stage manager character was especially inspired; and there was a wonderful bit of stage-fighting between two young female characters, who rolled and tussled around the floor with great fury and commitment. There was also a funny but poignant scene in which the stage manager was too busy ordering his wife and the leading man to strike various poses to check the lighting effects, to notice the affair they were having in his very presence.
It would be fair to say that I heard some critical comments in the half-time audience; not everyone loved it but I guess that’s inevitable.
The town of Pitlochry is itself a little Highland beauty, and I leave you with a photo which I hope you will appreciate. We had lunch in the rather ancient Moulin Hotel, up the hill on the opposite side of the river, about a mile away – it was substantial and good value, in what appeared to be a converted stable. There is also the Moulin Brewery which has sadly been closed on both the occasions I have had lunch there. If you don’t want to go off the beaten track there are many other lunch options including the Theatre’s own restaurant/cafe.