Rousing times

ACTOR Hannah Donaldson in the Age of Arousal. (Marc Marnie)
ACTOR Hannah Donaldson in the Age of Arousal. (Marc Marnie)

If you have read A Pass in the Grampians (1933) by local novelist Nan Shepherd, you may have wondered why Mary Kilgour, despite being university-educated, is so quietly contented with running a typing house in London.

Rewind some 50 years to The Odd Women (1893) by Victorian novelist George Gissing to find ex-suffragette Mary Barfoot, along with her lover and protegé Rhoda enlisting female students to master the new invention that will gain them freedom – the typewriter.

Stellar Quinesʼ new production, Age of Arousal, which you can catch on tour at Woodend Barn in Banchory on Thursday March 31 at 7.30pm, brings these characters to life in this genre-busting, rule-bending and original play by one of Canadaʼs top playwrights, Linda Griffiths, which is loosely based on Gissing’s novel. Together Mary Barfoot and Rhoda set in motion an odyssey of alcoholism, cross dressing and sexual revolution.

“Type, damn you. Type. Itʼs the only way to Liberty!” is Mary’s rallying cry. The year is 1885, a time of great passion but also of great confusion. Virtue is barely holding down its petticoats. Women are bursting their corsets with unbridled desire.

Age of Arousal has been hailed as “gloriously bold and inventive” by The Scotsman and “funny, dynamic and politically fascinating” by The Guardian. Stellar Quines director Muriel Romanes first saw the play in Toronto in 2007 and recognised in it the spirit of the Quinesʼ work. The evening promises to be a lubriciously entertaining way of conveying one of the greatest periods of change for women in the history of the Western world and as such is suitable for an over 16 years of age audience. If this is what continued to happen within typing houses, it is no wonder that Nan Shepherdʼs character Mary Kilgour chose to keep very quiet about her work all those years later.

This is co-production between Stellar Quines and the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, with the assistance of North East Arts Touring, Aberdeenshire Council and Creative Scotland. Tickets from Woodend Barn on 01330 825431 or online at <>