Theatrical black gold at Royal Lyceum

The Cheviot, The Stag, and the Black, Black Oil Pic: Contributed
The Cheviot, The Stag, and the Black, Black Oil Pic: Contributed
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THERE’S a last chance to see Dundee Rep’s touring production of John McGrath’s The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil at the Lyceum all this week - the first professional touring production of the play in more than 20 years.

First performed by 7:84 theatre company in 1973, the musical drama recounts Scotland’s economic history from the Highland Clearances to the oil boom of the 70s.

McGrath set 7:84 Scotland two years earlier with the aim of taking popular, political theatre to the working classes.

The title of the company derived from a 1966 statistic that 7% of the population of Great Britain owned 84 % of the wealth.

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil is 7:84’s most famous production and now considered by many to be one of Scotland’s first theatrical examples of docu-drama and verbatim story-telling.

Many of its issues and themes remain highly topical.

Nick Parr of Dundee Rep agrees, “John’s script is as powerfully relevant today as it was forty odd years ago,” he says.

Director Joe Douglas adds, “Directing The Cheviot has never been anything but a terrifying honour.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to see how the people of Edinburgh uniquely respond to it.”

Hailed as influencing generations of theatre-makers, McGrath famously embraced the techniques of the music hall, variety and the ceilidh to appeal to audiences across the social classes.

“McGrath’s philosophy was that the audience must have ‘a good night out’ and that’s something that we aim to ignite across the country,” says Douglas.

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, Royal Lyceum, Grindlay Street, until Saturday, 7.30pm (matinees 2pm), £10–£30.50, 0131-248 4848