Theatre review: Leith’s Hidden Treasure, The Granary

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PIRATE jokes aside – and there are pirate jokes – the hidden treasure of the Citadel Arts Group’s latest play is Leith Hospital. Or, at least, the people in it.

Set in and around the hospital in the late-1950s, the play records the trials of post-war life in Edinburgh. Eleven year-old Janey Halliwell wants to be a dancer, but her family can’t afford to pay for her to go to lessons.

When Janey breaks her arms and is befriended by a trainee nurse at the hospital, the family’s fortunes are turned around one by one by the good people of the hospital.

Of the adult cast, Caroline MacKellar stands out for her flamboyantly exotic Aunt Alice and her lively audience interactions as Mrs Halliwell. She is one of those actresses immediately draw an audience’s attention when they step on stage.

Especially accomplished in her solo scenes, Nicky McCabe has a great energy in the leading role.

Sharon Erskine does a good Maggie Smith impression for the stern matron Sister Andrews, while Torya Winters is touching as the kind-hearted trainee Nurse Williams. Mark Kydd is very huggable in his role as Janey’s kindly old grandpa.

Clare Hibbert, Kiera Fitzgerald, Angus Skakle and Danielle McDougall are all great additions to the cast. Whether it’s singing, dancing, or acting these four children seem to be always up to something. It’s very impressive that they manage to remember so much material, but more importantly they never fail to make the audience smile.

St Mary’s Primary School in Leith’s yearly nativity play must be excellent, if these four pupils are anything to go by.

Those without a specific interest in the subject matter would do well to steer clear as the value of the show comes entirely from its documentary content.

But those with memories of Leith Hospital will certainly enjoy the trip down memory lane this show offers.

Copies of Leith Hospital Recalled, a book of memories of the hospital collected by director Liz Hare and writer Laure C Paterson, are available after the show or by post.

Rating: ***

Run ends tomorrow