THIS revival of Sue Glover's play was abducted from Fifth Estate's

programme for the Edinburgh Festival through circumstances beyond the

company's control, and it is happily restored in this re-cast and

re-directed version.

Abduction is one of the themes of The Straw Chair. As a consequence of

political machination, missionary calling, domestic duty or fate, each

of the four characters in the piece has been brought to a state of both

physical and metaphysical exile on the island of St Kilda. This is the

eighteenth century, and conditions are as extreme as the geographical

isolation. A lot of tears fall into the water pot.

It is an environment without superfluities in which polarities of

existence clash. The central antagonism is between the rigidities of

Christian piety and humanitarian compassion, and if the minister (Allan

Sharpe) finally finds his bridge between the two, the gulf that exists

throughout between fallen men and abandoned women is never fully closed.

All that unites them is a prevailing sexual repression, and the

coalescence of men and women remains stunted.

I find it too bleak a vision of Calvinist austerity, with a final

optimism that is facile and inconclusive. The compensation in the

production lies in the fine playing of Anne Lacey, Pauline Lockhart and

Donalda Samuel, who create moments which remind us of Glover's best

writing in Bondagers. But the gap of a month between this and its

intended companion piece, Donald Campbell's The Ould Fella, is a


Separation has permitted a period of recovery and relief from two

visions of gloom. I for one have had too much of this wallowing

depression presented as The Scottish Condition and I become impatient

with the cold introversion that perpetuates it.