1514 The Musical

Date 21st November 2014
Society Act 1 Youth
Venue Hawick Town Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Deborah Lyons
Musical Director Rosalyn Walker


Author: Stewart Cameron

This show was performed by a brand new NODA affiliated Society ACT 1, being an acronym for About Community Theatre. It is to be a Youth Theatre Group with adults being included for experience, advice and information but is designed to be run and operated by the youths themselves.

This first foray into theatricals could not have been harder with the subject and the emotional rollercoaster it produced. But step up to the mark they did and performed one of the best shows I have ever seen. It was truly worth all the accolades it has received.

Any historian knows the build up to the Battle of Flodden when the life blood of Scotland was decimated in 1513. After having been summond by the King to fight off the threat from England the campaign culminated in the Borders where the battle took place. In all about 10,000 Scots died that day.  But what is not written about is what happened in the aftermath, when there were no men to continue with normal domestic life. The only folk left were the young, the old and the infirm as everyone between the ages of 16 and 60 had been called up. This left the land open to rape & pillage by marauding bands of soldiers and raiding parties who scourged the land as they went leaving nothing but death and destruction in their wake. However in Hawick they decided to not be oppressed by these Reivers and in 1514 when threatened by a raid the youth of Hawick banded together and against all odds defeated a large force at Hornshole, near the town and captured their banner.

You could think that this would be a difficult subject to put into a musical but what Alan Brydon and Ian Landles, the writers, and Deborah Lyons the Director, have done is take that situation and develop it into a success story that is there for all to see every year when the Banner flys in Hawick High Street at the Common Riding.

The first impression you get when entering the "theatre" is the set was outstanding having been made to look like a rural village. There was good perspective and depth and all available space had been utilised to create sight lines where there was hardly any restriced view. On speaking to Debbie later on the company have been very inventive building the majority of the set from scratch using recycled materials. A good start to an excellent production.

The First Act shows us life in the vallage of Hawick before the call to arms where there is a friendly banter between the townsfolk carrying out their normal day to day tasks such as meeting at the washing green and the boys playing soldiers and discussing who they will be when they grow up.  There are rumours of a call to arms in the offing which appears to be just that, a rumour. All of this is related to us in some beautiful harmonic ensemble singing by the various families and the youth of the town along with Mary Tinlin (Rachel Inglis) who rejoices in her Life.

There is an interlude when the towns folk tease the town's local worthy Gibbie The Grump excellently played by Ian Brotherston who hasn't got a good word to say about anything.

However the threat of the call to arms come to fruition and the menfolk of the town rally themselves to defend their Country to the end and they march off to war to the haunting song Hawick Ma Border Hame.

Act 2 opens wth the stirring and haunting One Call of a King and and I defy anyone with a patriotic bone in their body not to be moved when the pipes play,

We then return to Hawick to be faced with the aftermath when the menfolk will not be returning and how will they manage without them. But life goes on and the threat of raiding parties is never far away. When one is discovered (Here Cpme the Raiders) not far away the townsfolk have to decide whether to run to the hills or will they stand and fight. The youth of the town, the callets, decide they will take on these raiders and formulate a plan to give them a taste of their own medicine. The townsfolk bid a tearful farewell to the young lads in "Safe Oot Safe In" and the women are fearful for their return with "Return from Hornshole"

When the callets are away we here from Gibbie again and his soliloquay was expertly presented with super expression and his timing was excellent.

The youths are successful in their raid and capture the reivers banner and proudly return to Hawick to present it to the town and happiness returns.

In the end Robbie (Robert Scott) and Jeannie (Iona Cuthbert) sing "Life is Grand" and sum up the feelings of the townsfolk on the succes of the raid and their lives going forward.

This production was written specially to close off the 500th anniversay comemmerations of this major event which is remembered every year and it was fitting that the finale with the Towns banner was the curtan call.

I cannot express in these words and in this report detail how much I enjoyed this performance, the whole of the cast was so enthusiastic and of course with it being a local re-enactment the passion was more than evident in every ones performance. It would be unfair to single out any individual performer as eveyone put their hearts and souls into the production and they should all take a well earned pat on the back. I would also hope that those cast members who had not performed before will have enjoyed this experience so much they will all want to try again.

This is a show that should be shown again and I am sure that throughout the Borders of Scotland and further afield there are Groups and Societies who would be only too pleased to perform it so it needs to be made available to a wider audience.

This is a production that will live long in my memory and I thank Deborah Lyons for giving me the opportunity of watching this performance.  Thanks you ACT 1.