IN THE dark of a Dundee night, the masts and hull of the Discovery gleam quietly in their dry dock on the waterfront.
And at Discovery Point, nearby, Kevin Lennon of the Dundee Rep Ensemble sets out to perform a powerful new monologue inspired by the last, fateful journey – just 100 years ago this spring – of Captain Robert Scott of the Antarctic, who commissioned the Discovery from a Dundee shipbuilder for his first polar expedition, in 1901.
Set to reappear at Oran Mor next week, as part of the Play, Pie and Pint lunchtime season, Oliver Emanuel’s new solo play imagines – with an increasingly persuasive surreal twist – that on that last, fateful journey of 1912, Scott and his four companions were also accompanied by a lovelorn penguin, who now retells the story.
The penguin decides, after being rejected in love, that he might as well throw in his lot with this strange species of adventurers, who are willing to travel to a place “just for the sake of being there”.
And so, for a magical 50 minutes, we are privileged to reimagine the story of Scott’s last journey through the eyes of – well, perhaps of nature itself, or of something much closer to it than any human being could be.
The writing is often breathtakingly beautiful, luminous with the beauty of the icy continent; Kevin Lennon’s performance, in simple jeans and duffle coat, is perfect, not without humour, yet also deep, thoughtful, and moving.
And in the end, we’re moved to share the penguin’s bemused admiration and growing love for the stubborn spirit of exploration that drove Scott and his men on; as if humankind, for all that it needs to relearn a true respect for nature, also adds something inimitable to the story, and is finally worthy of respect itself.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South