REVIEW: Richmond Amateur Dramatic Society’s Whisky Galore

Philip Goulding’s stage adaptation of Compton Mackenzie’s famed comic novel sees Richmond Amateur Dramatic Society – in the form of the Pallas Players (an all-female theatre company) – putting on a play: Whisky Galore.

It is quite a challenge – requiring a seven-strong cast of women playing 25 parts (both male and female plus a dog); with two characters even being played by three or four different people.

Confusion could reign but the all-female cast of RADS certainly carried it off with style and aplomb, and the audience were treated to a flurry of different accents, costume changes and the adornment of various beards, moustaches and wigs. All done to the greatest of comic effects with much hilarity.

For those not familiar with the story, the plot is set in 1943 on the Scottish islands of Great and Little Todday, where the whisky supply has dried up because of the war, leaving tensions amongst the islanders running high. Relief comes in the form of the shipwreck of a vessel carrying 50,000 bottles of whisky just offshore. Collective anarchy breaks out as the desperate islanders try and squirrel away as many bottles as possible before the intervention of the authorities. Underpinning this are the relationships between the islanders themselves, including two sets of courting couples and the very funny dynamic between the hapless George and his overbearing mother.

If the acting is spot-on in its engaging combination of rollicking physical theatre, panto and farce then it is equally matched by the ‘special effects’. A big screen at the back of the stage is used to project images of the different island locations, with a particular mention going to the hilarious scene where a small car speeds along a country road and then goes into reverse. The sound effects of different bird calls also gain momentum as the play progresses, with fulmars, curlews and skylarks all taking their turn. All in all, there is considerable attention to detail which greatly enhances the overall enjoyment of the play.

This is a joyful show with a huge sense of fun. You got the impression that the cast were certainly enjoying themselves and judging from the hoots of laughter erupting from the audience this was an experience. Go and see it if you can.