LIVE REVIEW: The Cheviot, The Stag & The Black, Black Oil @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (13.06.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Images by Tommy Ga Ken Wan 

The Cheviot, The Stag & The Black, Black Oil is at Live Theatre, Newcastle until Saturday 22nd June

The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil is more than your standard play. Performed around Scotland since 1973, this modern retelling is as much relevant today as it was when it began.

Billed as a performance with ‘beginning, middle, and as yet no end…’ this lively, immersive performance is brought to Live Theatre by the National Theatre of Scotland – a company dedicated to showcasing Scottish culture in eclectic venues around the world.

Here, the cast looked to be having the best time – and were determined to bring the audience along for the ride. Beginning with an interactive ceilidh in the theatre hall, the audience is then taken on a bone-rattling journey through the last 200 years of Scottish history, centring on the impact of industrial capitalism on the people of the highlands and glens. First, we see the effects driven by the profit-hungry farming of Cheviot sheep, then the English aristocracy arriving to shoot local grouse (and stags), and then finally, the viscous doom of the black, black, oil.

Truly immersive performances by the cast bring the host of colourful characters to life through traditional Scottish music, comedy, and occasionally horror – made all the more shocking by the theatre’s intimate staging. And what a cast they are – truly multi-talented actors and musicians, able to switch between mirth and melancholy with the swift change of a hat (or fake moustache).

But what really brings the script to live is the music. Performed in English and Gaelic (complete with a charismatic cast member performing all dialogue and song in sign language), these traditional and modern songs tell true, heart-rending stories via music which ranges from the hauntingly sad call of a 19th century maid, to a catchy shot of Americana crooned by a Texan oil tycoon.

The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black, Black Oil is a must-see, and a party we can all be part of. It might tell a story of capitalism, but it’s also the voice of all people, regular people who are born and raised on land that doesn’t belong to them. You’ll arrive dancing, and you’ll leave feeling part of a rebellion.





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