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A rollicking good yarn that starts a bit slowly but once it hits its stride, carries you through at a good clip. I found James Anthony Pearson (Davy Balfour) a bit flat initially, in an otherwise stellar cast. Thank goodness Davy Balfour is rescued and the whole show as well, by the ever captivating Iain Glen (Alan Breck) or the whole thing might have sunk without a ripple into the briny waves as just another rehashing of a well told tale. Once Alan Breck literally hops on board, the whole thing lifts measurably and is propelled forward as the story rapidly picks up momentum. What fun it is watching Davy and Alan match wits with the devious Col.Mac Nab (played with great relish by Paul McGann)and the other host of baddies scattered throughout. The character who comes closest to matching Alan both intellectually and in her daring escapades is Catriona Stewart (excitingly played by Kirsten Coulter Smith.) Too bad the main character was a male role. Kirsten Coulter Smith shows the right combination of intelligence, righteous anger and fearless daring with the full range of emotions associated with these feelings, to have made a perfect lead. She's someone to watch for in future productions. (On a small but fun side note, Iain Glen had the opportunity to display some of his impressive fencing skills. While a student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts he and fellow school chum, Ralph Fiennes spent two years perfecting their swordsmanship so they could win the prize awarded at the end of their last term. Mr. Glen says that most students spent a couple of weeks at it, but he and Ralph turned it into a personal quest. They wanted that prize over some of the more esoteric such as "Best Hand Gestures" or "Best Silly Walk" (not really prizes but you get the picture.) Thankfully they won, or as Mr. Glen asserts it would have been pretty sad because they had spent so much time at it.)
Bleak, but not boring
I feel I must comment on the newly redone cover for the video. The original was true to the story with Mararia looking off into the distance not into eyes of the other main character, & not physically touching. It was symbolic of the two sides of a triangle, with that third very important side missing. It was true to the story which is one of unrequited love. As we all know love triangles, especially of the passionate in the extreme Latin kind, can never end well for any of the characters involved. The plot twists were not enough to keep you guessing but did keep you a bit off balance. The final denouement was not completely unexpected, understanding the hot blooded temperaments which are heavily underlined throughout. But the characters still held a somewhat cardboard feel. Not enough depth to understand what really drove them and indeed most of the town to the extremes we witness. We have to accept that for some never explained reason, they all find Mararia irresistible. She's pretty, but not that pretty. It was fairly good but could have been much better if we understood "why?" The one exception would be Iain Glen's character. You are never in doubt what motivates him. But the others, male and female leave me wondering.