Tag Archives: Zoe Hurwitz


Wickies: The Vanishing Men Of Eilean Mor


Park Theatre




“The strength of this production sits with its creatives and the actors, who wrestled as best they could with a script that needs some serious trimming”


“A lighthouse is a symbol of man’s good intentions” the experienced James Ducat (Ewan Stewart) tells wet-behind-the-ears keeper Thomas Marshall (Jamie Quinn) as he comes ashore to help man remote Eilean Mor. The lighthouse sets the scene for this eerie tale of three keepers, or wickies, who disappear from Flannan Isles in apparently mysterious circumstances.

In addition to the central narrative, the play is packed with stories about lighthouse keepers going mad with isolation and creepy bodies flailing in the wind. It’s a fertile setting for playwright (Paul Morrissey) to wring a story from.

But it’s not all windswept despair. The script is woven together with joyous and melancholy sea shanties sung acapella by the actors, which serves to highlight the men’s isolation marooned in this distant place. The direction (Shilpa T-Hyland) makes use of the whole stage – at times the actors emerge from the audience, while a rickety ladder is shimmied up and down to give an impression of height (the lighthouse is very tall, we’re reminded frequently).

The set design ( Zoe Hurwitz), lighting design (Bethany Gupwell) and sound design (Nik Paget-Tomlinson) all deserve special mention. They work together to create a true sense of isolation and claustrophobia. In particular lighting designer Bethany Gupwell’s role in a play where the keeper’s one goal is to ‘keep the light on’ at all times, is a central one. Lighting decisions are clever – at one point the theatre is cast into complete darkness while Thomas Marshall (Jamie Quinn) carries a lantern across the stage that casts a shaky beam of light to make the audience feel like ships tossed around on a stormy sea.

The strength of this production sits with its creatives and the actors, who wrestled as best they could with a script that needs some serious trimming.

The audience is told the same information again and again, just by different people. Pace is slow. It could do well with being cut to 90 minutes and losing the interval.

There’s an entire scene where Donald MacArthur and Thomas Marshall sit around a table discussing why the senior keeper left his family to work on the lighthouse, but we’d just been told why moments before. Thomas Marshall – “you ask a lot of questions, don’t you?” – was indeed, always asking questions, and often the same ones, repeatedly. Why had the men chosen to work in such remote places? Why did they leave their family?

The play’s intentions are good. There’s humour in spades – Graeme Dalling delivers some excellent one-liners, and he performs his role as a man metaphorically and literally lost at sea with energy and melancholy passion. But there’s a sense that this play could do with more showing and less telling. I wanted to see the actions they described – rather than hearing the inspector’s descriptions of what he thought had happened to the men, I wanted to see the actors act.

Several questions remain unanswered. The predominant one is why this play now? Why this play here, at the Park Theatre? But perhaps that doesn’t matter to all but the most diehard theatre fan. Afterall, it can feel at times that theatre has become something to clench your stomach ahead of and check your mental constitution after, and Wickies, other than a few ghost stories, doesn’t require that.

Inspection of the website post-show reveals that the play is partnering with StrongMen, a charity that helps men through bereavement. And perhaps that’s the only loose theme that comes through – a symbol of man’s enduring isolation in a world that’s not built for them. At its heart, this is just a good yarn, a ghost story threaded with reality. If you want to see something this season that’s not a show about Christmas, then this is a fine place to while away an evening.



Reviewed on 5th December 2022

by Eleanor Ross

Photography by Pamela Raith




Previously reviewed at this venue:


Flushed | ★★★★ | October 2021
Abigail’s Party | ★★★★ | November 2021
Little Women | ★★★★ | November 2021
Cratchit | ★★★ | December 2021
Julie Madly Deeply | ★★★★ | December 2021
Another America | ★★★ | April 2022
The End of the Night | ★★ | May 2022
Monster | ★★★★★ | August 2022
A Single Man | ★★★★ | October 2022
Pickle | ★★★ | November 2022


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Age is a Feeling

Age is a Feeling


Edinburgh Festival Fringe

AGE IS A FEELING at Edinburgh Festival Fringe



Age is a Feeling


“a beautifully constructed show, full of heart and heartbreak”


Haley McGee performs her new show, Age is a Feeling, a delicate, poignant, and ultimately – I think – uplifting piece of work about life, death and those moments in between; the one’s others remember us for, and the one’s no one ever really even knew about. McGee began developing the piece during the UK’s first national lockdown in 2020, and was inspired by interviews with hospice workers, as well as visits to cemeteries.

Zoë Hurwitz’s set is made of twelve tall, thin flowers, spread out in a circle, like the numbers on a clockface. Each one sits in a small plant pot. On each of the plants is a postcard, representing different stories from McGee’s life. (I should flag at this point that the show has a sort of autobiographical feel, but it’s not clear if any of this is actually from McGee’s life.) Throughout the performance, the audience chooses which of the six stories we get to hear, and which of the six will be left unheard. Some of the stories we hear tonight include ‘oyster’, ‘hospital’ and ‘crabtree’. We don’t tonight get to hear, for example, ‘fist’, ‘bus’, or ‘dog’. In the middle of the circle of plants and postcards is a tall, white lifeguard’s chair, which McGee spends a fair amount of time sat upon, narrating memories of her life which surround her. They’ve all already happened now, so she gets to look down on them as she narrates to us.

The stories begin at age twenty-five and journey through the human life until the point of death. Among them, we hear about broken hearts, relationships, family, grey hairs, backache and skincare. There is an emphasis on trying to live a life which goes against convention and, without ever becoming particularly sad about it, regrets or references to things we may have done differently. But also here is the feeling of inevitability. That it doesn’t matter if you know at aged twenty-five you should be eating more vegetables, drinking more water, exercising more frequently; it’s hard to make these changes when you’re young. You’ll make these changes ‘for a while’ and then move back to your old ways. The reception of ‘for a while’ at increasing ages makes us laugh at first; then it’s sad; and then it’s sort of funny again.

The show has a little bit of a slow start, but this plays to its benefit as McGee is able to gently and delicately build these layers upon layers of stories and memories, until before you know it she’s old, her friends and family are dying, as is inevitable, and we watch the life she’s built slowly decompose. Her performance of these stories is what makes them so extraordinary. Her voice is deeply controlled, soft, meditative, as it gently echos through the lecture theatre. Her eyes begin welling up, as she connects deeply with the audience, making it seem like these stories could belong to any one of us.

We spend so many years feeling anxious about what others think of us, and we make so many decisions or lose out to so many opportunities because of this; because we want to be popular or non-confrontational, and so much of this show is about grabbing life’s opportunities and jumping at them, being less afraid of what people will think of you because you only have one life. And once it’s gone, it’s just memories, stories told by other people. And ultimately, eventually, they’ll all be lost forever anyway. We take most our stories with us to the grave, so we might as well write them the best we can, when we can.

It’s a beautifully constructed show, full of heart and heartbreak and regrets, but ultimately hope and love and opportunity.



Reviewed 12th August 2022

by Joseph Winer


Photography by Thea Courtney


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