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REVIEW: Castle Lennox (Lung Ha Theatre Co, Edinburgh)

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

1 April 2023

⭐⭐⭐⭐


Lung Ha Theatre, Castle Lennox, Edinburgh Lyceum

Lennox Castle is situated just north of Glasgow in one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Built in 1830 and surrounded by forest at the foot of the Campsie hills, it could be mistaken for a fairy-tale Castle.


In reality it was more of a nightmare for many.


From 1936 it became Scotland's largest institution for people with learning disabilities, and its reputation and the stories from the people who lived and worked there are both horrific and shameful.


The hospital had 20 separate blocks housing 60 men and women each - around 1200 residents - and the main Castle itself was the nurses accommodation. There are plenty of documentaries and clips on YouTube. If you're remotely interested in the history of the place, please watch them. I highly recommend those by the Open University that start with a guided tour.


In development since 2015, and rudely delayed by the pandemic, Lung Ha Theatre's production shines a light on the Lennox castle institution and on one possible story. I've had my ticket since 2020 and it was most definitely worth the wait!


Lung Ha Theatre, Castle Lennox. Photo credit: Peter Dibdin

In 1969 we meet 16 year old Annis (Emma McCaffrey) a young autistic woman who is sent to Castle Lennox for "a holiday."


" A holiday for you, a holiday for me" says her stepmother.


Emma McCaffrey gives a remarkable performance! Annis is very funny, capable and intelligent, yet she is confined to a hospital where she doesn't understand the rules and she soon makes an enemy of the staff nurse. No wonder she fights back! But she is quickly drugged and punished to keep her 'under control'.


Annis and the other patients escape the horrors of their captivity through imagination and song. Over the next 90 minutes we see Lennox Castle through their eyes, and I was completely enthralled.


The resilience of the residents is unbelievable! And the story here is both brutal and heart-breaking. It packs an unbelievable punch as it is performed magnificently by those very people who may well have been hidden away behind the Castle's doors.


Lung Ha Theatre, Castle Lennox. Photo credit: Peter Dibdin

Written by Linda McLean, directed by Maria Oller and with songs by MJ McCarthy, this short, sharp show is also funny and uplifting. They've got the mix just right and it's a triumph.


⭐⭐⭐⭐


📸 Production photos: Peter Dibdin


[Review first posted on Instagram 5 April]

 

🌟 A review of Castle Lennox by Lung Ha Theatre Company at the Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, April 2023 🌟


📧 For media and review requests contact Lisa_InTheTheatre@outlook.com

📸 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram


Lisa in the theatre, blog, reviews, Edinburgh theatre


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