Take a walk on the Wilde side

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Manchester based Rocket Theatre are making their first foray into Scotland this week with two Berwickshire venues in their sights.

The independent company have been going strong since 1995 and the show they’re bringing to Longformacus village hall on Saturday and Cockburnspath on Sunday ‘ ‘Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime’- has so far been performed over 100 times.

The play started life as a short story by literary legend Oscar Wilde but has been adapted for the stage by Rocket’s artistic director Martin Harris, who is also starring in the title role.

Lord Arthur takes his marriage vows very seriously, but when he has his fortune told just weeks before the wedding, his destiny simply cannot be ignored.

His glimpse into the future forms the basis of a black comedy which will see Martin share the stage with just one other actor.

But, while of course biased, Martin said that the small but perfectly formed production works just as well as a big ensemble piece.

“It’s been performed over 100 times so we must be doing something right,” he joked.

“We have been very fortunate to get some great reviews as well and promoters who have seen the show and have gone on to book it for different venues.

“I’ve made a few tweaks, additions and subtractions to Wilde’s original but at the same time I’m very aware that people will come and see it because its him so a lot of his words are still in there.”

And as for putting the job of delivering the script on his own shoulders, Martin said Lord Arthur was a fantastic part to play.

“I thought I’d be suited to the role. To put it bluntly he’s a pompous idiot and he quite literally gets away with murder but there’s also something very likeable about him.

“A lot of the play’s humour comes from him but there’s also plenty aimed at him.

“He has a great rapport with audiences and speaks directly to them

“Like a lot of Wilde’s work, ‘Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime’ takes the mickey out of the middle class.

“It’s quite a dark piece; it deals with murder after all but it’s not heavy and those who love Wilde should enjoy it while it should also serve a good introduction to him for those who’ve never seen his work performed before.”

As artistic director and leading man, Martin certainly has a lot on his plate but he said all the hard work that comes with being an independent touring company, almost comes second nature to him now.

“I’ve been directing, marketing, promoting and acting since 1995 so I’ve had a lot of practice!

“Lots of smaller theatre groups work in a similar way’ you have to be prepared to pitch in and do a bit of everything.

“At the start it was quite tough but we’ve got a way of doing things and it all runs quite smoothly now.

“People are always amazed that we can fit sets, lighting and a cast in a Ford Focus but we do even if it is a bit of a tight squeeze!”

Tickets for the Longformacus show are available from 01361 890600 and for Cockburnspath call 01368 830482. Tickets are £8 and both performances start at 7.30pm.