PERFECT alchemy. That’s what you are after when you attempt a musical theatre production which blends a fresh story with hugely popular music.

Sometimes it works. Abba’s Mamma Mia! and The Proclaimers’ Sunshine on Leith or Green Day’s American Idiot are clear examples. However, there’s no guarantee that great music and words will come together in theatre harmony.

Thankfully, The Stamping Ground, which features the songs of Highland rock legends Runrig, manages to pull off exactly that challenge.

But first the storyline. Playwright Morna Young has conceived a tale of a young family who return to the remote Scottish village of Glenbeg, increasing the population from 105 to 108.

The parents, Euan and Annie, are a together-forever couple who have come back to their home village seeking a fresh start for their teenage daughter. Fiona, we learn, has been severely bullied at school in London.

However, when the family return to the Highlands, they soon find themselves lost in this once familiar place, now filled with more tourists than residents.

The Herald: RunrigRunrig (Image: free)

There is little doubt that the world they once knew has changed. The once sleepy hollow has woken up to rapid modernity.

“There are more hot tubs than sheep dips” – and it’s now a place where the residents “put on their friendliest smiles in summer – then wonder how they’ll ever get through winter”.

Fiona, meanwhile, comes to idolise effervescent local tour guide Summer, whose influence her nostalgic dad comes to resent, especially when he finds out about Summer’s link to his father’s death.

This storyline certainly doesn’t offer a sanitised version of the Highlands, instead portraying an economy that is moving from rural trade to tourism. We learn that the heart of their community, the local pub, is for sale and tensions are rising; a neat parallel with the Clearances, with one local declaring that the economic struggle is in itself “a form of eviction”.

As relationships ignite and smoulder, Euan and Annie find themselves swept into a battle to save the heart of the community. But can they save each other? They have their own relationship problems to contend with.

Just to add colour to the story, driven neatly by attempts to understand what we mean by the concept of “home”, we learn that Euan is a writer of bodice-ripping historical novels which appeal to a fan base of expat readers.

For some reason, these readers manage to see romance in the Highland Clearances rather than the horror.

But of course, when you are writing of a period in history it pays to have a musical catalogue of songs that suggest passion and nostalgia, and which are evocative and political.

This is where Runrig delivers.

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The music of the band, all heart-swirling melodies and heaving bass lines, is near perfect for the shifting tones of the storyline, marrying itself to themes of community and love and loss.

But now those Runrig songs have undergone a quite incredible adaptation by musical director John Kielty.

Luke Kernaghan’s direction certainly offers real comparisons with Scotland’s other big artist-based musical, the acclaimed Sunshine on Leith.

The Stamping Ground allows for real upbeat humour combined with an understanding of the nature of change in communities, and how that change can shake and shape personal lives.

The cast includes stage icon and River City star Juliet Cadzow, Jenny Hulse (also of River City), Ali Watt (a regular performer with Pitlochry Festival Theatre), Caitlin Forbes, Annie Grace, Robert Grose, Barrie Hunter and Brian James O’Sullivan.

The Stamping Ground appears at venues across Scotland including the King’s Theatre, Glasgow, June 13-17


WHO are we? Are we the person that others judge us to be?

Are we who our friends think we are?

The Devil Drinks Cava is a new “queer comedy-drama” exploring who we present ourselves as – and the “bubbly”, delicious consequences our actions have on those around us.

JD Stewart’s play unfolds under the rising moonlight in Traquair Maze, where aspiring 30-year- old DJ Nate-O’ (or Nathan), waits for his extremely ambitious but modest wedding planner girlfriend of more than 10 years, Annie.

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Nathan is planning to “finally pop that big old question himself”.

However, when Emile arrives searching for his latest wedding hook-up (always the groomsman and never the groom), a series of hidden truths are revealed.

This leads to all three asking questions of who they want to be, how they want to live, and the legacy they want to leave behind.

Big questions indeed.

And as a result, big answers are guaranteed. And lots of big laughs in the process.

The play features Lawrence Boothman, Karen Fishwick and Joe Risin.

A Play, Pie and a Pint, Oran Mor, Glasgow, until Saturday