The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
WEE MAN’S BIG HIT
The Nest -
I’m always delighted to see the cream of Scots acting talent given the chance to showcase their talents on the world stage. In the past week we saw two fairly established actors – Martin Compston and Kevin Guthrie – in leading roles, with the added bonus of relative newcomer 18-yearold Mirren Mack giving a mesmerising performance in her first major drama.
It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly 20 years since film director Ken Loach cast the teenage Compston in the leading role in Sweet Sixteen. It’s even harder to believe that Compston’s career continues to grow from strength to strength. Loach has made a habit of handing leading roles to people with no acting experience. He seems to believe he will get a more naturalistic performance from someone who hasn’t been exposed to the rarefied atmosphere in Britain’s principal drama schools. Perhaps he’s right. Robert Carlisle said it took him four years to forget the rubbish he had been taught at Scotland’s leading acting academy.
Compston is living proof that talent is worth a lot more than three or four years spent listening to someone drone on about Stanislavski. But not many of Loach’s discoveries had the ability or drive to carve out as successful a career as that young Greenock Morton footballer. He won the Best Actor award at the Scottish Baftas for that first film role, but it didn’t go to his head. He knuckled down and worked on his new craft with the same dedication he had shown on the soccer pitch and now he is reaping the reward.
In The Nest he plays Dan Docherty, a self-made Glasgow millionaire from humble beginnings who lives in a palatial loch-side residence, and who uses some of his wealth to fund a football ground for underprivileged kids. This gives Martin a chance to display some of the skills he picked up all those years ago, but why not?
Sadly, not everything in Dan’s garden is rosy. His wife Emily (Sophie Rundel) is desperate for a baby, but nature has other ideas. Dan’s sister, Hilary, has volunteered to be a surrogate, but miscarries. This event is witnessed by Kaya (Mirren Mack) a streetwise urchin, who first met Emily when she threw herself in front of Emily’s car as part of an insurance scam.
Kaya, who has been raised in care homes, resents her place in the scale of things, and wants to be the next Michelle Mone. To this end she offers her services as a surrogate mother in return for £50,000. Dan explains that it is illegal in the UK to pay more than expenses for surrogacy. Besides, he doesn’t want someone with such a dodgy background to carry his progeny.
Mind you, there’s more than a suggestion that Dan’s own record is not without some dodgy dealings. When faced with Kaya’s latest beau, Dan exhibited a level of threat we hadn’t seen before. It reminded me of Compston’s performance in The Wee Man.
When Emily threatens to leave Dan, he gives in. I’ve a feeling they’re both going to be very sorry before long.
It’s an enthralling thriller, immaculately staged, and with excellent performances all round. Just the thing to take your mind of this accursed virus. Enjoy.