The National Theatre of Scotland returns to what it does best with Rocket Post, a musical tale that explores a little known quirk of Scottish social history.
Effortless in his storytelling and breezy with it, writer and director Lewis Hetherington tells of German amateur rocketeer and charlatan Gerhard Zucker who, in 1934, attempted to send a rocket containing letters from the isle of Scarp back to mainland Harris.
This story is seen through the eyes Bellag, a local girl tied to her mother’s croft but dreaming of following her brother to Canada, Gavin Swift creates a rather more rosy image of Gerhard than history recalls and MJ Deans brings a strong sense of anticipation to the character of Bellag.
Though Hetherington’s production is intended for an audience of the over-sixes, there is enough here for older audiences to enjoy. The piece is at its strongest in its exploration of a moment when the future opens up for those who have the vision to imagine it into existence. There is irony, too, in the way some of these ideas have become reality, such as smartphones,and the show passes comment on our use of mass communication.
Musical director Michael John McCarthy provides strong original and borrowed material for the company of actor-musicians. Gaelic is used carefully, the meaning always clear even when the words are unfamiliar.
Designed by Ailie Cohen to tour small halls, this is a tight little production. It is also somewhat limited in scope – and you can’t help feel something more red-blooded could have been made from this story.