BBC Radio 7, 29-30 June 2010
The fourth in Scott's series of Waverley novels, The Heart of Midlothian in a picaresque tale set at the time of the Jacobites. At one level it is a tale of stoicism and good behaviour as Ginny (Gerda Stevenson) fights to clear the name of her sister Effie (Irene Allen), who has been sentenced to hang for allegedly killing her child. Ginny never gives up in her quest, eventually ends up taking her case to the Queen, despite having been attacked, imprisoned, threatened with rape and placed under male authority.
In Stevenson's adaptation Scott's work also emerged as a study of female independence, in which brain and willpower triumphed over brawn. The men were either hidebound by archaic traditions (as with her father), or too weak (as with her would-be lover Reuben (Robin Lee)), or simply deceitful. This is the case with George Robertson aka George Staunton (Simon Donaldson) the preacher's son who leas the rebels during the Jacobite rebellion.
At heart, however, The Heart of Midlothian is a romance taking place in a fictionalized Scotland of wild moors, close-knit families untired under the laird, who actually imprison the younger members within tradition. Effie,s fault is that she tries to escape from that prison, but falls foul of the law. Luckily her sister has sufficient presence of mind to come to her rescue.
In Bruce Young's production, the story was narrated by Ginny, who assumed an omniscient role, warning listeners about the dangers of what was to follow. She spoke in a breathless voice, as if she could hardly wait to tell us about what happened. This ensured that our attention was sustained throughout the two-part adaptation.