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REVIEW: Kidnapped (NTS, Scottish Theatre, Glasgow)

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

5 April 2023


NTS Kidnapped, Isobel McArthur, National Theatre of Scotland

Based on the late 19th century novel by noted Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped has been adapted for the stage and given the Pride & Prejudice* (*sort of) treatment by writer, director, and all round legend, Isobel McArthur.

Along with MJ McCarthy and Gareth Nicholls, McArthur has reimagined and re-booted this classic novel for the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) as a rom-com!

In the NTS version of Kidnapped we follow the adventures of 19 year old orphan Davie Balfour (Ryan J MacKay) as he tries to uncover a family secret and is, perhaps unsurprisingly, kidnapped! To find his way back home he must navigate inept pirates, Jacobite outlaws and even the challenges of first love with the dashing soldier Alan Breck Stewart (Malcolm Cumming).

The decision to have the play narrated by the author's wife, Frances Stevenson, played by the magnificent Kim Ismay, is inspired! The show opens with Mrs Stevenson, a guitar and a cracking version of a Johnny Cash song. A brilliant start!

Mrs Stevenson tells us some of her own background alongside the plot of Kidnapped. It was her suggestion to write Kidnapped in the first place and it's really interesting to hear of, for example, the plot changes she introduced. It's true what they say, behind every good man is a great woman! And that certainly seems to be the case here. It's an honour to see someone of Kim Ismay's calibre perform on the Glasgow stage.

Kim Ismay, NTS Kidnapped, Isobel McArthur, National Theatre of Scotland. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Kidnapped is peppered with excellent adaptations of 20th century pop songs. I have been waiting for an Erasure jukebox musical for years so when the first bars of "A Little Respect" filled the auditorium I was ecstatic!

At the start of Act II there is a gorgeous version of Peter Gabriel's 'Don't Give Up' to accompany one of the most beautiful underwater scenes I've ever seen in a theatre. And the inclusion of Scottish anthem 'Big Country' went down a storm.

The ensemble cast of actor-musicians are great, with lots to do and many characters to play, this is a true team effort. Though Christina Gordon and Grant O'Rourke provided many of the laugh out loud moments for me with their deadpan comic acting.

NTS Kidnapped, Isobel McArthur, National Theatre of Scotland. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

I did not expect the swashbuckling Kidnapped to bring a tear to my eye, but the sensitivity, true chemistry and fine acting from the leads was truly beautiful, and their love story is a wonderful addition to the plot of this classic story.

Touring Scotland now, you can find dates, locations and booking details below and at

📸 Production Photos: Mihaela Bodlovic

NTS Kidnapped, Isobel McArthur, National Theatre of Scotland. Photo credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

[Review first posted on Instagram 6 April 2023]


🌟 A review of Kidnapped by National Theatre of Scotland, NTS, Isobel McArthur, Theatre Royal Glasgow, April 2023 🌟

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

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