Mr. Bolfry by James Bridie is in the 2014 season at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. It’s directed by Patrick Sandford.
It’s really hard in this age of anything goes behaviour to remember what it was like to be discreet on a Sunday, to avoid offending the ‘man of the house’ or of ‘the cloth’ and to listen while an elder told you his philosophy of life. Plays that use exposition are definitely in the minority.
In Mr. Bolfry, Bridie captures so much of what shapes our humanity and our relations with other humans. The Meenister is on his pedestal, but he’s had an inner demon to overcome and is all too ready to see Mr. Bolfry as a dream spectre and manifestation of his own disordered mind. Bridie was a doctor, remember.
Mrs. McCrimmon, beautifully rendered by Isabella Jarrett, is a character who has a position to uphold, but that position depends on the man she married. As sometimes happens, it becomes more important to her to keep the rhythms of her household unchanged and unchanging lest the Meenister be in any way unsettled.
The catalysts for bringing all the seething to the surface are two-fold. Jean. a wayward niece, is recuperating with her aunt and uncle after a bomb scare in London and the two engineers billeted on the manse are bored nearly to death by the Highland Sunday.
Summoning up devils seems like a really good lark until Bolfry, in the commanding presence of Dougal Lee, appears among them.
I loved the open stage set with its views of the endless mountains and the encapsulated closeness of the manse. I thought the second world war was brought to the stage with a light hand. I enjoyed the niece’s pointing up of the immeasurable gap between her and her relatives. I’m glad the theatre re-visited this piece.