You can’t beat a bit of Banter in the Borders

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Two local playwrights, Dorothy Bruce and Oliver Eade, are having their one-act plays performed in venues across the Borders from November 23 until December 8 in a double bill called Borders Banter.

Curiously, a massive earthquake experienced by Oliver Eade and his Chinese wife in China inspired his comedy The Gap, in which things change big-time for the dysfunctional Moscrop family when the world splits in two along the Greenwich Meridian, and across the landing of their Peacehaven home.

The Gap was shortlisted for the 2009 Rowan Tree One Act Play competition, and Oliver, a retired Borders General Hospital physician, also writes short stories and novels.

Of his published children’s novels, two link the Borders with mythological China, and one, Moon Rabbit, was a winner of a national competition.

Dorothy Bruce’s play See them Rats – her first foray into performed writing – is sure to scurry into the imagination and keep the audience smiling for hours.

This Rat Pack has nothing to do with Frank, Dean or Sammy; her three hearty men live cheek-by-jowel with midden rats, determined to make the most of their meagre lot.

Dorothy is also a writer of short stories, and for eight years co-ran an annual 10-day walking and arts festival and, in 2008/9, the Robin Jenkins Literary Award. She has written a book about Vincent Van Gogh’s friend, Alexander Reid, whose art dealer son lived for many years in Gattonside.

Describing seeing the first rehearsal of her play, the author wrote on her blog: ‘I watched, fascinated, as words I had written were taken up by others and with expressions and actions made their own, their character’s.”

Both plays are supported by an experienced cast. Kirsty Jobling, in The Gap, is a professional actor originally from Northumberland, who trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Appearing on stage, television and in films, her work has taken her to various places including London and Italy.

Richard Nisbet from Peebles, known to many for his appearances in Shakespeare at Traquair, and Kath Mansfield are also in The Gap, while Elsie Horobin, David Bon, Tom Hudson, pictured top of page, and Andy McGregor perform in See Them Rats.

The plays will be staged by a drama group, Odd Productions, under the direction of Kathleen Mansfield. Following the death of her brother four years ago, Kath was spurred on to do things she’d always wanted to do, including drama. Since then, Odd Productions has won numerous accolades, such as O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock performed in Edinburgh, and Journey to X by Nancy Harris at the Eastgate Theatre in Peebles.

In this production, Kath directed a cast of high school pupils with aplomb. Her 2011 promenade version of Romeo and Juliet was praised by Joyce McMillan, theatre critic of the Scotsman, as “richly enjoyable”, while her Samuel Adamson’s Frank and Ferdinand was described as “well-handled, successfully moving the audience between times and spaces”.

The performances take place at Smailholm Village Hall on November 23, Carlops Village Hall on November 24, Selkirk’s County Hotel on November 30, Melrose’s Wynd Theatre on December 1, and at Westruther Village Hall on December 8. For more information see Odd Productions Facebook Page or phone 01896 822013.