Robert Howat’s Three Hagstanes for Tight-laced Theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh on Sunday 22nd July was a delight. The production, written by Howat and performed by him and Jamie Monteath, mixed traditional storytelling with dramatic rendition.
The story, Howat told his audience in a post-show Q&A session, came to him after he stumbled over a field containing standing stones. He’d been enjoying a pre-stag, stag party when the group found these monuments and ‘hagstanes’ was the closest he could get to his Geordie landlady’s description of what they might be. They inspired a play about witches.
Scotland has an unwholesome record in the discovery and murder (try judicial execution, but I feel quite strongly about this issue too) of witches. Howat opts for the idea that there might have been witches, but were they evil? In his play the witches were protecting their world from the Devil by blocking up vents he mght use to escape. The knight who betrays them is caught by the mores of his time, which allowed him nothing less.
A simple set let Howat and Monteath roam freely. The small boys in the audience were entraced by the knight’s sword. The music both enhanced and paced the script. Howat’s story-telling skills were much to the fore and he has a fine vocal range enabling him to woo and surprise his audience by turn.
Alas, it was one day only, but Tight-laced bring another of his plays, Charlie and the ’45 to the same venue in November.