ONE of Scotland’s most influential plays is set to be fully revived on stage for the first time in more than two decades.
John McGrath’s The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil charted the history and “exploitation” of the Highlands, from the clearances to the oil boom of the mid-1970s, when it was first performed.
Toured across the country by the Liverpudlian playwright’s 7:84 Theatre Company, the darkly satirical “ceilidh play” featured a mix of drama, music, song and comedy. It paved the way for a number of radical Scottish theatre productions.
Now McGrath’s best-known work is to be brought back to life by Dundee Rep, whose ensemble will be performing what it is billing as “a cornerstone of contemporary Scottish theatre”.
It will be directed by English theatre-maker Joe Douglas, who has worked with the National Theatre of Scotland and Grid Iron theatre company, and also directed a Dundee Rep production of Roald Dahl’s The BFG.
More than 300,000 saw the original 1973 production of The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, which starred then unknown actors Bill Paterson, Alex Norton and John Bett, who took on a string of different roles.
The revival was announced just days after it emerged that the widow of McGrath, who died in 2002, had passed away. Elizabeth MacLennan was also one of the co-founders of 7:84, along with her brother, the actor and playwright David MacLennan, who died last year.
A spokeswoman for Dundee Rep said: “The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil tells the history and the tragedy of Scotland, performed as a Highland ceilidh, with song, humour and drama intermixed; creating a unique theatrical event, that remains as vital and relevant today as it was when 7:84 Scotland first presented it.
“Dundee Rep Ensemble has uniquely been granted permission to present this pivotal piece of Scottish theatre in the first professional production on the Scottish stage in more than 20 years.”