Theatre review: Unveiled Secrets, County Hotel, Selkirk

Four new plays, by two writers; three secrets, and one mysterious murder. In Anita John’s First Steps, three generations of women from the same family visit an old railway museum that, for grandmother Dot, brings back memories so vivid that she finally confesses a long-suppressed family secret.

Unveiled Secrets
Unveiled Secrets

Unveiled Secrets, County Hotel, Selkirk ***

In The Other Nathan, by Oliver Eade, a confused but sprightly old lady reveals a similar secret during a visit from her nephew; in Give the Dog a Bone, also by Eade, an ugly family secret is held by older sister Greta and revealed on a visit to her tyrannous old mother. And in Eade’s most ambitious play, The Other Cat, a young woman called Poppy finds herself standing over a strangely familiar body in the street; while a series of male passers-by illuminate or obfuscate her experience of a death that may or may not have happened.

Odd Productions – touring this evening of plays around the Borders under the title Unveiled Secrets – is a group of Borders-based theatre enthusiasts led by drama teacher and director Kathleen Mansfield, who have made a special effort, this autumn, both to publish and produce these new plays, which feature a talented cast of community actors. David Bon is outstanding as all four men in The Other Cat, Erin Christie is excellent as Poppy, and Elsie Horobin shines both as old Beth in The Other Nathan and scary mother Moira in Give the Dog a Bone. The productions have their ups and downs, as do the scripts, full of sensational soap-opera moments. Yet it’s heartwarming to see 60 people turn out to see some locally produced theatre, suggesting an appetite for much more of the same, if Odd Theatre and other groups could find the resources to sustain a more regular touring circuit around the Borders towns. Joyce McMillan

Also at MacArts, Galashiels, 4 October, and Eastgate, Peebles, 11 October