Rough Magick

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A comedic drama by Marty Ross set in 1605 in the Scottish Highlands in which the Royal playwright Shaxberd saves King James from assassination and attempts to save an innocent girl from being burnt as a witch.

1605. Fearing further terrorist activity following the gunpowder plot, King James transports his court to the Scottish Highlands, complete with The King's Men, his favoured theatre company. This includes middle-aged, careworn, neurotic and pox-troubled playwright William Shaxberd (although he prefers being called 'Shakespeare'). When the Royal wagons get bogged down on the moors and a seemingly supernatural attempt is made on the life of the paranoid, superstitious James, a local woman, Shona, is accused of witchcraft. Shaxberd owes Shona a debt and shaking off his customary deference to authority he employs all his ingenuity and gift for theatre to help her escape the gallows. But who was the real attacker? And does the innocent Shona have some genuine magic up her sleeve?

The play takes its prompt from historical facts: James's obsession with witchcraft and the political paranoia post-Gunpowder Plot; Shakespeare's being sometimes credited as 'Shaxberd' (might it have been his actual name?), his awkward position at court as a Catholic glove-maker's son, his rewriting of Scottish history in 'Macbeth' to flatter King James (Banquo's descendant); as well as the probably apocryphal story that The King's Men may have toured Scotland prior to the writing of 'Macbeth'.

Producer/director: David Ian Neville.

CAST

William Shaxberd... JOHN PAUL HURLEY

King James... RICHARD CONLON

Lord Riddrie... ROBERT JACK

Shona... SALLY REID

Courtier... TERRY WALE

McIver... STEVEN McNICOLL

McGlee... DAVID WALKER

Fearing further threats following the Gunpowder Plot, King James departs to Scotland.