Theatre review: Farm Boy, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh

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WANT to see a Scottish local authority shooting itself in the foot? Then cast your eyes towards East Lothian, which – in order to save about £50,000 over two years – is poised to inflict a damaging series of cuts on the Brunton Theatre at Musselburgh.

Farm Boy

Brunton Theatre, musselburgh

Star rating: * * *

The council thereby achieves the double whammy of making it more difficult for the venue to remain the kind of lively, buzzing community hub that people need most in hard times, and putting at risk the expected benefits from a recent £3 million refurbishment of the Brunton building.

And this false economy is the more irritating because the Brunton has moved with exemplary grace into its current role as one of Scotland’s best-run middle-scale receiving theatres. On Thursday night, for example, the theatre was packed, for a single performance by New Perspectives Theatre of Nottingham of their current touring show Farm Boy, the sequel to Michael Morpurgo’s hugely successful War Horse.

Adapted and directed by Daniel Buckroyd, Farm Boy is a 65-minute two-hander, performed in beautifully relaxed style by Gareth Bennet-Ryan and John Walters, about a 21st century lad who finds an old tractor at his grandfather’s farm, and gradually learns enough about his family history, and about his great-grandfather’s life after the First World War, to realise that he, too, wants to carry on the farming tradition.

The style is a little couthy and self-consciously rural at times, the story predictable. Yet the show has a charm, and a seriousness about the coming-of-age process it describes that is hard to resist; it received the kind of warm reception that is typical of the Brunton.