Banned book now a sell out stage show

A book by a North-east novelist, which was once banned in her home town, is set to tour Scotland following several sell-out performances in and around Aberdeen.

Strichen-born Lorna Moon’s short stories, Doorways in Drumorty, have been skilfully woven together by playwright Mike Gibb into a play with a cast of three performing as 12 diverse characters that are easily recognisable today.

The result is a piece of theatre which is funny, poignant and very entertaining and will be toured by RedRag Theatre Company, in association with Aberdeen Performing Arts, around venues, both large and small, the length and breadth of Scotland, opening in Perth Theatre on September 14 and finishing at Eden Court in Inverness on October 5.

Writer Lorna Moon was an extraordinary woman who moved from rural Scotland to America in 1907 to become a top screenwriter, working closely with Cecil B De Mille who went on to produce, direct and star in many of Hollywood’s Oscar winning classics. While her collection of short stories is an amusing depiction of rural life in the 1920s, at the time Strichen residents were shocked and outraged to find themselves portrayed as thinly-disguised characters in Doorways in Drumorty.

The account of their narrow-minded and hypocritical ways was promptly banned in the town, but Strichen has moved on and recently a plaque was unveiled in honour of their famous daughter who died 80 years ago. Although Lorna Moon never returned to Scotland in her lifetime, her ashes were scattered on Strichen’s Mormond Hill.

“There are also similarities to be found between Doorways in Drumorty and the much wider-known Scottish classic, Gibbon’s Sunset Song,” pointed out RedRag Theatre’s Michelle Bruce. “They both explore life in a rural north-east community in the early 20th century and were both criticised by members of the local community when they recognized themselves in the story!

“Interestingly Doorways in Drumorty was actually published seven years before Sunset Song but why so few people have heard of Lorna Moon and her writing is a bit of a mystery,” she added. “Like many gifted writers of her time, social and economic factors possibly conspired against her popularity. Nevertheless, the quality and sharpness of her writing was never in doubt. Had Lorna Moon lived beyond her 44 years, who knows where her writing gifts would have taken her.

“We originally staged the show in Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree Theatre and subsequently in a number of North-east rural venues. Initially we were unsure of how the show would be received elsewhere but the amazingly positive response from a sell-out audience in Dundee’s REP Theatre convinced us to embark on this tour.”

RedRag Theatre Company is the Aberdeen-based theatre group which staged and toured the Piper Alpha commemorative play Lest We Forget in 2009. Tickets for Doorways at Drumorty at The Lemon Tree, on Wednesday, September 28, are available at www.boxofficeaberdeen.com, by phone at 01224 641122 and at Aberdeen Box Office at the Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and The Lemon Tree.