Electrifying theatre


Until 10 years ago, The Occasion theatre company, in its various guises, were regular visitors to SEALL.

It was a pleasure to welcome back founders Peter Clerke and Catherine Gillard to SEALL at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in another of their highly creative works, The Monster and Mary Shelley, which is currently touring Scotland.

It has been 200 years since the bright and precocious teenager Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published her book Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, and The Occasion puts Mary in the spotlight as she reflects on the circumstances which formed her unconventional lifestyle and their interrelationship with the creation of her nameless creature.

This is a captivating portrait of a young woman whose radical ideologies and unruly modus vivendi, considered monstrous in the 19th century, had been stitched together by the influences of her parents, her husband and the associated company they kept. Her creature was her salvation, the spark of life that justified her existence, and echoed the challenge to her perceived identity within a disapproving society as the “monster abhorr’d”.

Catherine Gillard puts on a convincing and spell-binding performance as the charismatic Mary and ably manages to place a contemporary mood into what is intrinsically a Gothic setting. The only other character in the production is the creature which sits brooding under wraps behind her and provides an almost silent alter-ego to which she can bounce off her reflections and animate her tale.

Stewart Ennis’ script is profound and compelling. His themes of love, loss, place and identity are delivered with empathy and understanding; often dark but punctuated at intervals with spells of bright humour to bring light to the mood.

The production is brought together by an atmospheric backdrop of shrouded shapes and some clever lighting that accentuate and enhance the changing moods and events in Mary’s life and it was a privilege to get to know her personally through a simple yet illuminating and brilliant piece of theatre.

It is a delight to present theatre of this quality to SEALL. Small-scale theatre companies are sometimes over-looked by rural audiences, one of the reasons being the presumption that they may disappoint. In Scotland alone, there are many companies just like The Occasion with a staggering diversity and range of work who are touring excellent theatre pieces that enlighten, educate, inform and entertain, just like The Monster and Mary Shelley. They deserve our strong support and a robust applause.

We look forward to the next visit by The Occasion.