On the Applecross peninsula in the West Highlands of Scotland, a young woman named Laura (Lucy Doyle) arrives at her family’s remote holiday cottage for a romantic weekend with her older lover Suzanne (Caroline Harker). Both are looking for an escape from their stifling Home Counties life in Letchworth and from Suzanne’s ongoing divorce and demanding teenage children.
Here – in what must count as the back of beyond in relation to Letchworth at least – they find isolation from phone signals and briefly from their daily concerns. Yet the appearance of Drew Cain’s caretaker David brings bad memories back for Laura, of her mother’s terminal cancer and her resentment of her father.
There are also ghosts here older than living memory. Scenes shift between the present and 1870, when the crofter’s cottage that once stood here was owned by an elderly woman named Enid (Gwen Taylor). Having taken in Eilene (also Doyle) – a young woman who lost a child conceived out of wedlock – there are hints throughout that the story begun in Enid’s era does not end well.
Much like Enid’s apparent psychic residue in the present, writer Ali Milles and director Philip Franks’ play is trapped somewhere between two worlds; in one, a straight family drama, and in another, a haunting supernatural thriller.
With a strong cast who all come with a certain public profile from screen, particularly Taylor and Harker, each of these worlds is well-conjured, and together draw out a certain sense of the changing yet persistent pressures felt by women over the last century and a half.
When one character remarks that they might have visited Cornwall instead, however, the setting is thrown into relief as an odd one; where Enid bears an oddly Welsh name and David speaks of the arcane “old ways” like the only Highlander left without broadband. The least convincing aspect is the sense of place, with rural Scotland cast as a convenient ‘every wilderness’.