Theatre preview: An Appointment with The Wicker Man @ Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Published by METRO

Tonight (28 February) until Saturday (3 March), 7.30pm (Matinees Thursday & Saturday 2.30pm), £9-£29.50, Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Tel: 0844 871 7647. www.atgtickets.com

VIDEO: An Appointment with The Wickerman - promotional trailer

I didn’t want to mention Nicolas Cage this early on, believe me. But there’s no getting away from the fact that when people hear about this theatrical take on The Wicker Man, there’s a chance they’ll be reminded of the disastrous version that starred the American.

The 2006 horror remake, which earned five Razzie Award nominations and boasts a 15 per cent rating on review-aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, was an embarrassment.

A bunch of clips from the flick went viral for all the wrong reasons (‘the bees! Not the bees!’), and someone on YouTube re-cut some of its more ‘intense’ moments into a straight family comedy trailer.

In a way, though, this spectacular failure was a blessing. Could anyone else wanting to make their own mark on Anthony Shaffer’s original 1973 screenplay really fare much worse?

Probably not, but a National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) production at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal still has a lot to lose.

‘At first, when you get asked to take on a task like this, you are daunted,’ said Donald McLeary, who co-wrote An Appointment with The Wicker Man.

‘Then you go back and forth on whether you’re the right people to do it justice.’

McLeary – of Radio 4 comedy Fags, Mags and Bags – penned the show with Greg Hemphill – probably best known as Victor in BBC sitcom Still Game.

Hemphill also joins cast members Paul Riley, Sean Biggerstaff, Jimmy Chisholm, Johnny McKnight and Rosalind Sydney in the play, which is directed by NTS chief executive Vicky Featherstone.

McLeary continued: ‘Then you panic that NTS are going to offer it to someone else who will, you are sure, make an arse of it. So you stalk them until they give you the job because you realise you simply need to be involved in this.’

The duo’s re-invention of The Wicker Man is a bold one to say the least. It’s set on a remote Scottish island, where a strange amateur theatre group is rehearsing a stage version of the story. The lead has vanished in mysterious circumstances, so an actor from a TV cop show is drafted in from the mainland as a replacement.

And in this horror-comedy-musical that’s a play-within-a-play, there are many laughs and songs as things begin to get sinister.

‘If any stage adaptation of something you love this much is going ahead, it’s going ahead with the care, attention and respect that only a couple of lunatic fans can bring,’ added McLeary.

So as you’re enjoying this team of talented Scots put its intriguing spin on a cinematic classic at one of the country’s most prestigious venues this week, you can forget about Nicolas Cage’s overacting.

That said, the YouTube video I described earlier is definitely worth a watch.