Pleasing to the lower end of its target four to nine-year-old audience, Mull Theatre’s touring production of Katie Morag is something of a mixed bag. At its heart there is a great little story, of Mairi Hedderwick’s likeable human heroine meeting up with a pair of American cousins who, after a treasure hunt round the island of Struay, turn out not to be the spoilt brats they originally seemed to be.
Unfortunately the adaptation and direction are, at times, so two dimensional that the story barely seems to have risen from the page to the stage. Lisa Grindall’s script is overburdened with expositions where she fails to credit her audience with the intelligence to work out for themselves what is happening. The consequent wordy passages, delivered by a serriedly ranked cast, are an invitation to rustle sweetie papers and lose concentration.
When Grindall does trust her audience, and Fletcher Mathers allows his actors to perform, it whistles jollily along. Sheena Penson is a solidly down to earth Granny Island, while Annette Staines has just the right hint of Morningside matron to her Granma Mainland.
Pamela Byrne (Princess) and Allan Gilmour (Dude) impress as the American cousins changing their perspective on island life - and providing the audience with an alternative way in to the plot. Sally Reid’s Katie Morag is friendly enough, but is hampered by the overtly Christmas show-style breaking of the fourth wall.
Robin People’s set, realised by Eve Murray and Emma Murray, is faithful to Hedderwick’s original drawings. Which, rather than bringing them to life, creates a cut-out version, lacking that third dimension.