Whisky Galore! set for stage adaptation on isles

A scene from the film adaptation of Whisky Galore. A major stage version will take place on the islands of Eriskay and Barra. Picture: Contributed
A scene from the film adaptation of Whisky Galore. A major stage version will take place on the islands of Eriskay and Barra. Picture: Contributed
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IT is the classic novel inspired by the real-life antics of Scottish islanders that then became a hit comedy on the silver screen.

Now the remarkable story of the SS Politician - which ran aground off the Isle of Eriskay with 260,000 bottles of whisky aboard and made famous by the film Whisky Galore! - is to inspire a major new stage production which will tour village halls across Scotland in 2015 - and be performed largely in Gaelic.

The National Theatre of Scotland show, the company’s first fully-fledged Gaelic production, will be performed in Eriskay itself, as well as the neighbouring island of Barra, where Alexander Mackendrick famously shot the Ealing comedy in 1948 - just seven years after the real-life incident.

The story in the play, which will largely follow that in the original book, unfolds during the Second World War when rationing has led to a drought of whisky on the remote island of “Todday”, only for the prayers of the locals to be answered thanks to fate of the stricken “SS Cabinet Minister”.

As well as the two real-life islands, which continue to attract droves of Whisky Galore fans, there an extensive touring schedule for the show.


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It is already being compared by NTS to its huge hit The Strange Undoing Of Prudencia Hart and is one of two comedies being staged by NTS next year.

The company, which will mount its 10th season of shows in 2015, is also staging what is a billed as a “riotous” new show about a Scots-Italian family who live above their run-down fish and chip shop and the havoc caused by a 100-year-old matriarch who is “literally eating her family out of house and home.”

Set in the run-up to the Queen’s Jubilee in 1977, the show has been adapted by Ayrshire playwright Douglas Maxwell from a hit Argentinian play, La Nona, and is also partly inspired by a classic BBC version in 1991, which featured Les Dawson as the central character, although both male and female actors are being considered for the key role in the new Scottish version.

Another Scottish literary icon will be tackled by NTS’s artistic director Laurie Lansom, when he directs the first ever stage version of Muriel Spark’s thriller The Driver’s Seat.

Sansom, who was at the helm of NTS’s acclaimed staging of The James Plays in Edinburgh and London this year, has adapted Spark’s work himself after winning special permission from the late author’s partner, Penelope Jardine, who saw his version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The National Theatre of Scotland has joined forces with the producers of the popular “A Play, A Pie and A Pint” series to stage the “up-close” version of Whisky Galore, which will be based on Compton MacKenzie’s best-selling novel and is being adapted by the Lewis-born writer Iain Finlay Macleod, who set up a new Gaelic theatre company on his native island last year.

The show which will be subtitled for audiences, who will be seated cabaret-style in each specially-selected intimate venue on the tour, which will include the Corran Halls, in Oban, Ullapool Village Hall, the Sunart Centre, in Strontian, Strathpeffer Pavilion, Skye’s Gaelic college, Sabhal Mor Ostaig, and Oran Mor, the Glasgow arts centre which launched “A Play, A Pie and A Pint” 10 years ago.

NTS will start the year with a New York run of vampire love story Let The Right One In and a US tour of Dunsinane, playwright David Greig’s acclaimed sequel to Shakespeare’s Macbeth.


Theatre review: Whisky Galore!

Whisky Galore cargo to be auctioned


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