SpectreTown (4 stars)

This article is from 2015


Scottish rural tragedy where the past and present meet

We are all haunted by ghosts of the past. In SpectreTown, they become more vivid than ever. This dark and sinister play set in rural Scotland defies the time-space continuum: it begins with a young couple Dodie (Mark Wood) and Meg (Elspeth Turner, also writer and artistic director) being caught up in social conflicts and struggles for power, before arriving in the present, where their tragedy is still felt and very much alive.

Now, the secrets of that story are kept by old-woman Izzy (Bridget McCann) in a chest. But until it is unlocked, it’s completely up to the audience to figure out how both narratives intertwine. Performed entirely in Doric, SpectreTown is an incredibly well-written and produced piece, with the shifts in time beautifully enhanced by lighting effects.

It is mentally challenging, visually stimulating – ghost shadows often state their presence in the background – and musically compelling, with live music from Matt Regan empowering the script. Sometimes, however, there’s an excessive use of sound effects that distract from the main dialogue.

Founded by Elspeth Turner, Scottish theatre company Stoirm Òg has been trying to find its place at the Fringe for the past years (they brough The Idiot at the Wall to us in 2012), but this work expresses a grand ambition. A play is worth watching when it gets you emotionally involved, when you’re drawn into its universe and the story makes you rethink some things in life. SpectreTown has all that.

Assembly Hall, 623 3030, until 31 Aug, 1.30pm, £12–£14.


  • 4 stars

A new play inspired by the bothy ballads of the North East. Written by Elspeth Turner and presented by Stoirm Òg. Ages 14+.