One of the stars of a new drama about the lure and the risks of life on the ocean has spoken about her own life growing up in Aberdeen as the daughter of a deep-sea diver.

SophiaMcLean is taking her first major Scottish role in Lost at Sea playing Shona, a young woman returning to her home village searching for answers about her fisherman father’s death.

The cast and play have been highly praised by critics (“superb” ★★★★The Scotsman, “goes down a storm” ★★★★The Guardian, ★★★★The Times, ★★★★The Herald, ★★★★The Stage, “hauntingly beautiful” The Courier).

Lost at Sea, by Moray writer Morna Young, comes to His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, from 9 to 11 May as part of its world premier tour and Sophia is one of several cast members with links to the North East.

She said: “I’m thrilled that my first major stage role in Scotland should be one about North East Scotland where I’m from, and that it’s written in the Doricleid that I grew up with; living in Aberdeenshire and visiting my Dad’s family in Elgin.

“When I was wee, you didn’t get often get major productions in Scots, or about the lives and stories of rural people in this part of the country.”

The play is especially meaningful for Sophia as her father Jim McLean was a commercial diver during the 70s and 80s working on a variety of jobs including work on gas-lines,vessels, barges and wreck recovery.

She said: “Like many people from Aberdeenshire, I grew up very familiar with a very strong sense of the charm and the danger of the sea. With the knowledge too that dad’s job was a risky one – and that accidents happened. He lost both friends and colleagues to the sea, and had a few close calls himself. 

“But he gave me a fierce respect and love for the sea, and those connected with her. All these things coupled with the ‘pull-your-breeks-up-and-get-on-with-it’ dark humour, the Doric, the familiar‘no-questions-asked’ future-focused prerogative, and the beautiful diamond weave in Morna’s writing makeLost at Seaan incredibly special piece to be a part of.”

Lost at Seareally gets across that sense of the unforgiving nature of the ocean, of the terrible knock-on effects when things go wrong and of what it’s like in a community where life is built on the fishing, where the tradition goes back for countless generations.”

Sophia’s great grandfather was a familiar figure to many seafarers as he worked as part of the Waterguard in the Aberdeen Harbour Office on Regent Quay, and sang for BBC local radio in the evenings. 

His family were Gaelic-speaking fisherfolk and ferrymen from Durness. The shipping forecast was the first thing he listened to in the morning, even into retirement; and still a mainstay in Sophia’s home.

Other cast members with links to the region include Gerry Mulgrew, who plays Billy. Gerry studied in Aberdeen and was a teacher at Torry Academy.

Kim Gerard, who takes the role of Eve, has family connections with St Monans where past generations were fishermen.

Theatregoers may remember Andy Clark, who plays Kevin, from a one man show called The Deep, presented by Ten Feet Tall Theatre, which he performed in Aberdeen last year and which was based on a true story about an Icelandic fisherman who managed to swim ashore after his vessel capsized in the Atlantic.

Lost at Sea is Morna Young’s personal tribute to North East Scotland’s fishing communities. Inspired by the loss of her fisherman father when she was five, the play shines a new and unique light on what is still the UK’s most dangerous profession.

As a Scots Language Ambassador (Education Scotland) she is proud that this production will bring Doric throughout Scotland during the UN’s Year of Indigenous Languages. 

Lost at Sea features a nine-strong cast of well-known Scottish actors including Tam Dean Burn (Outlaw King, River Cityand Moon Dogs). It is a Perth Theatre and Morna Young production.

Acclaimed director Ian Brown has returned to Scotland for the first time since leaving The Traverse in Edinburgh 20 years ago specifically to direct the play. 

Lost at Seais a Perth Theatre and Morna Young production.

Notes to editors

  • Venue: His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
  • Dates: Thursday 9 to Saturday 11 May
  • Start times: 2,30pm and 7.30pm
  • Prices: £20.50 to £30.50
  • Ages: 12+
  • Further information and bookings: aberdeenperformingarts.com 

About Sophia McLean – Shona 

In 2017 Sophia was nominated for Society of London Theatre’s Laurence Olivier Bursary Award; was a 2018 finalist of The Spotlight Prize; and is currently nominated for ‘Best Female Performance in a  Radio Drama’ for her work as The Porter in Almost tangible’s audio drama of ‘Macbeth’. She graduated from Drama Studio London in July 2018. Recent theatre credits include: The Last Days of Mankind (Leith Theatre), Scribble (Assembly Roxy) and Theatre Uncut: The Power Plays (Braw Fox Theatre) and for radio: Macbeth (Almost Tangible). 

About Gerry Mulgrew – Billy  

Gerry was awarded Best Male Performance at the CATS 2007, for his role as Old Peer in Peer Gynt (Dundee Rep and National Theatre of Scotland). 

Gerry’s extensive theatre credits include: Ma, Pa and the Little Mouths (Glasgow Tron); Krapp’s Last Tape (Glasgow Tron/Blood of the Young); Losing the Rag; The Last Dictator; The Above and Federer vs Murray (Glasgow Oran Mor); Ay! Carmela! (Out of the Box); My Name is Ben; The Visit and Ubu the King (all Dundee Rep); Peer Gynt (Dundee Rep/NTS); Waiting for Godot (Glasgow Citizen’s); Lanark (Glasgow Citizen’s/Edinburgh International Festival); Nova Scotia and Tree of Knowledge (both Edinburgh Traverse); Ane Satyre of the Three Estates (Staging for the Scottish Court). 

Gerry is a founding member and the Artistic Director of Communicado Theatre Company, where his credits include: The Government Inspector; The Memorandum; The Suicide; A Place with the Pigs; Cyrano de Bergerac; The Cone Gatherers; Mary Queen of Scots; Carmen; The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The House with the Green Shutters. 

Twitter: @LostAtSeaPlay. Facebook: Lost at Sea

Media contacts: Pam Dochard, Media Relations, pdochard@horsecross.co.uk, tel 01738 477728, mob 07884 017199 or Matthew Shelley 07786 704299 or Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Org

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