It’s not long now until National Theatre of Scotland’s new adaptation of adventure-classic Kidnapped will be touring Scotland. Robert Louis-Stevenson’s novel has been reimagined by Isobel McArthur with Michael John McCarthy in a colourful new take on the classic historical novella and is packed full of 20th century pop music and 18th century romance, all performed by a dynamic ensemble of actor-musicians.
Kidnapped was originally written as serialised fiction in the magazine Young Folks from May to July 1886, then first appeared in book form published by Cassell and Company in July 1886. Both the novel and author Robert Louis Stevenson have several local connections to the city of Edinburgh.
Stevenson was born and raised in the city, studying at the University of Edinburgh. He studied Law, so that he had a respectable career to fall back on if writing didn’t work out from him. Fortunately, Stevenson’s literary career did work out, and the city and surrounding geography influenced his writing, with Kidnapped taking place in locations familiar to Edinburgh locals.
The climax of the novel takes place upon Corstorphine Hill, where a statue dedicated to Robert Louis Stevenson now stands, on Corstorphine Road. The 15-foot-tall statue was sculpted by Alexander Stoddart and depicts principal characters Alan Breck Stewart and Davie Balfour.
Actors Malcolm Cumming and Ryan J Mackay recently visited the statue, ahead of Kidnapped touring Scotland and to Newcastle. Malcolm and Ryan are playing Alan Breck Stewart and Davie Balfour, respectively.
A number of the streets in Drumbrae and Clermiston area take their names from locations and characters in the novel. Rannoch Road, Durar Drive and Morven Street are named after real Scottish locations that Alan and Davie visit, and Essendean Place and Terrace are named after a fictional location created by Stevenson. Hoseason Gardens plays tribute to character Captain Hoseason, Ransome Gardens to fictional cabin boy Ransome and Alan Breck Gardens to Alan Breck Stewart.
In 2004, Edinburgh was designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, and to celebrate, almost 15,000 copies of Kidnapped were given away as part of a city reading campaign in 2006. The Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh presents the lives of three prominent of Scottish writers, one of them being Robert Louis Stevenson. Visitors to the museum can see a collection of portraits, photographs, personal possessions and treasures that Stevenson found on his own travels.
Kidnapped will be coming to Edinburgh in April 2023, and touring Scotland and to Newcastle from March until May. To find out more about the production and get tickets, click here.