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Rob Roy

By Robert Kemp


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Rob Roy was a hit on the stage even during the lifetime of Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Kemp's version admirably captures the qualities that have made it a favourite of generations of Scots. It is an adventure story, complete with threats to a maiden's honour and a duel to the death, set around the time of the first Jacobite uprising in 1715. It is also Scott's most heart-felt commentary on the divided soul of modern Scotland, and contains some of his most memorable characters like Bailie Nicol Jarvie and Andrew Fairservice. The immortal Bailie may represent the emergent Scottish commercial class, but he is never quite willing to renounce his Highland ancestry or his tenuous kinship with Rob Roy, the outlawed chief of the MacGregors. The theme of the play is reconciliation. Robert Kemp's is no dry-as-dust adaptation, but deftly handles the action as it ranges from London to Northumbria, Glasgow and Aberfoyle, following the efforts of Frank Odbaldistone to recover his family fortune and win the hand of Diana Vernon, one of Scott's best-loved heroines. There are musical interludes, with original lyrics by Robert Kemp. Some doubling of parts is a possibility.