Soul Traders

A play in two acts written by Lemon Tree Writers and performed by Spotlight Theatre

Inverurie Town Hall • 27 & 28 April 2001

Script written by Archie Ramsay, Jeni Reid, Gráinne Smith, Douglas Guest, Roddy Hamilton and Haworth Hodgkinson, after an idea by Chris Brown.

Script Editor: Haworth Hodgkinson.

Music composed and performed by Haworth Hodgkinson (recorder, keyboards & percussion) with Jana Skene (voice, viola & percussion).

Director: Bruce Duncan.

The Cast

Shaun, the stranger: Lee Simpson
Tim, the boy: Gordon Young
Maggie, Tim’s mother: Nancy Hudghton
Ron, Tim’s father: Laurence Young
Chelsea, Tim’s sister: Rebecca Jones
Tamsin, the girl: Tanya Doig
Anne, Tamsin’s mother: Sally Ross
Graham, Tamsin’s father: Graeme Mathieson
George, the retired man: Douglas Prosser
Pat, George’s wife: Diane Shepherd
Fiona, Pat’s sister: Margaret Lee
Elsie, George’s neighbour: Wendy Urquhart
Mrs Reid, the steward: Anne Yule
Derek, the dealer: James Yule

Set Construction: David Hudghton
Lighting: Alison Houstoun
Prompt: Lorraine Evans

Preview, Inverurie Herald, 20 April 2001

Teamwork all pays off

A collaboration between an Inverurie dramatic group and an Aberdeen-based collective of writers bears fruit next Friday (April 27) and Saturday (April 28) when Inverurie Town Hall is the venue for a play entitled Soul Traders. The Spotlight Theatre Company, which is based in Inverurie and the Lemon Tree Writers — an informal group of poets, story writers, novelists and playwrights who have been meeting at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen for eight years — have teamed up to conceive, write and produce the play Soul Traders, which promises a mix of Doric humour and murder-mystery.

Haworth Hodgkinson, who is a member of both groups and the chairman of the writers’ group, told Sound and Vision: When I took over the running of the group a year and a half ago, I realised that whilst discussions around a table were an excellent way for poets and prose writers to obtain constructive feedback, playwrights needed something more, so I began organising occasional rehearsed readings of new playscripts.

The logical next step was to try to find a way of carrying scripts through to performance.

I approached a number of local drama groups, suggesting to them that there were a number of good drama writers in the North-East whose work deserved to be performed.

Haworth continued:

Spotlight Theatre of Inverurie took up the challenge and I ran a series of workshops with actors and writers during which we developed a set of characters tailored to the actors available.

Throughout the winter a team of six of the Lemon Tree Writers worked on the script, and Spotlight Theatre secured the services of a professional director, Bruce Duncan. The outcome of the collaboration was Soul Traders, a play with a 14-strong cast which begins when a mysterious stranger called Shaun parks his car in a field late at night.

It seems there is a body in the boot of his car, and he plans to bury the body, but decides to wait until daylight.

When he wakes up in the morning he finds himself in the midst of a car boot sale, and the dealers and traders are curious as to why he won’t open his boot.

Also at the car boot sale we meet the Doric ‘wifies’ of the Neighbourhood Watch led by Pat who, for all her vigilance, doesn’t realise that her husband is having an affair with their next door neighbour — but is it an affair of the heart or an affair of the stomach?

Then there’s 16-year-old Tim and his pregnant girlfriend Tamsin, who can’t decide whether or not to keep the baby. Tim’s parents are having a clear-out before moving to their new house, whilst Tamsin’s mother is selling off her husband’s treasured possessions. Meanwhile, Derek the dealer is on the lookout for any bargain going and Mrs Reid the steward desperately tries to keep order at the car boot sale as the various crises erupt.

Soul Traders will be performed by the Spotlight Theatre Company at Inverurie Town Hall for two nights. Tickets cost £6, including cheese and wine, and are available from Pencil N Paper in Inverurie. Proceeds will be donated to the Strathburn School PTA fund and the curtain goes up at 7.30pm.

Review, Inverurie Herald, 4 May 2001

Soul Traders
Inverurie Town Hall
Saturday 28 April

Among the world’s culinary conundrums — fried rice or noodles? hot dog or hamburger? taco or tortilla? sheep’s eye or goat’s head? — is that posed by Inverurie’s Spotlight Theatre Company in their production Soul Traders: do you like cream or ice-cream on your sticky toffee pudding?

The solution is offered by George (Douglas Prosser), a retired man with a stall on the car boot sale at the centre of this play: you can have them both, side-by-side, as neighbours.

Having your cake and eating it epitomizes George: his musings on food reveal his betrayal of his wife Pat (Diane Shepherd) by nipping round to neighbour Elsie Bannock (Wendy Urquhart) and nibbling her fancy pieces — and other home-cooked items.

Moreover, Elsie, Pat and the knowing Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Fiona (Margaret Lee) run a stall advertised on their bright yellow t-shirts as Tarts R Us.

While that Coventry cake (a three-sided pastry) emerges whole — Pat accepts that Elsie can do pieces for her husband but not mealie-pudding, for that delicacy he must have from his wife — the teenage troubles of Tamsin and Tim are left on the boil. Eighteen-year-old Tamsin (Tanya Doig) is pregnant, sixteen-year-old Tim (Gordon Young) is the father; her mother Anne (Sally Ross) is an alcoholic, her father Graham (Graeme Mathieson) has an American love-child.

Ron and Maggie (Laurence Young and Nancy Hudghton) are Tim’s oblivious parents and Chelsea (Rebecca Jones) is the big sister home from varsity with body piercing to show for it.

And this van-load of trouble is all set out at the car-boot sale, inadvertently attended by a stranger, Shaun (Lee Simpson), whose agonised monologue opens Soul Traders with the feeling that in his car boot there is a corpse.

Sustained for two acts, the secret of Shaun’s boot is weaved between the mounting tension of Tamsin’s secret, Tim’s angst, the pangs of George’s stomach and the contrasting attentions of car boot steward Mrs Reid (Anne Yule) and dodgy dealer Derek (James Yule).

Two breathless hours from the Spotlight saw the comic Doric chorus Pat, Elsie, and Fiona get good laughs, a howl greeted George’s sticky-toffee pudding spiel (it could have been a soliloquy delivered in the grand manner) and when Ron joined in the elder generation gave a comic turn with memorable moments such as the definition of retirement as ‘you don’t have time… just spaces when you’re not doing anything’.

Chequered with the laughs was the teenagers’ heart-wringing, the alcoholism of Tamsin’s mum and Shaun’s mounting hysteria, but unlike the comedy these weren’t all tied up. Shaun’s secret remained undisclosed, giving the uncomfortable impression that he was little more than a dramatic device to prise open the lives of the stall holders — regrettable because Simpson played him with a lot of feeling.

Written by the Lemon Tree Writers, Soul Traders raised laughs and drew silences and was an ambitious production for Spotlight Theatre warmly welcomed by a capacity audience at Inverurie Town Hall: as a whole it bodes well for the local drama group.

All proceeds from the production were in aid of Strathburn School funds.

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