miles poster


Original Theatre Online


A run down caravan site at the backend of nowhere on the Scottish coast, a gruff owner who uses the F word as punctuation, a new employee who is a teenager who can’t pass a Tesco on-line test to be a shelf stacker and a visitor from a past everyone wants to forget.

The only real drama, the only excitement to be had is a blockage in the toilet block or a delivery of a dozen cans of mushroom soup, fairly ordinary people leading fairly ordinary, unspectacular, mundane, even boring lives – even the disliked visitor seems more an unwanted nuisance than a threat.

Yet this Original Theatre production draws you in, you know any revelations will hardly be earth shattering, yet you are still intrigued to know what they are. We are in a world of loneliness, of broken dreams and promise, of hopes dashed and hopes still to be raised, a world so familiar to so many.

Miles is a world premiere, a result of writer Eilidh Nurse being a winner of the first Originals Playwriting Awards, and this is a play reading, but don’t let that put you off.

This isn’t like an amateur production, and even a recent professional production, where someone steps in at the last moment with unfamiliar script in hand.

These are four seasoned actors and yes, they carry the scripts, but you soon hardly notice, and they are not reading, they are acting, well rehearsed with the script merely as insurance.

Scottish actress Hiftu Quasem (Killing Eve) is Janie. Janie is the receptionist at Bobby’s Caravan Site, she is also the manager, in that there is no one else to do the role, and runs the camp on a day to day basis.

Janie is, well, let’s say she keeps her distance rather than is unfriendly, and the job seems to be the sort of dead end, no hopeville she both hates and yet craves. We learn she was heading for university, that she was a high flier, but suddenly that all changed and here she is, sole employee running a site where a customer a week is an event.

Her life seems to have stalled here, ground to a halt, with her comfort - or escape - hidden in a bottle in a drawer, she is drinking, not yet a drunk but drinking more.

Quasem gives her character a hard exterior hiding an inner sadness, echoes of a past hurt, and although she wants to keep people out, we really do feel for her.

Then there is Ed, played by another Scot, Cristian Ortega (Vigil). Ed went to the same school as Janie, but several years below – although you suspect everyone went to the same school in a town where even finding the proverbial one horse might be a struggle.

He is an innocent, naïve, unworldly, attracted to Janie not with romance in the air, but as a friend, friends you feel being in short supply in his life, a life where he lives with his mum and rarely ventures out.

You suspect his academic qualifications don’t stretch much beyond the fact he went to school, perhaps exemplified by his ambition of working at Tesco dashed by failing the simple online test.

So, with a commendable work ethic, he is grateful for the unskilled, menial low paid job Janie gives him after a less than probing interview, an interview helped by the fact no skills were required and he was the only applicant.

Ortega makes him a likeable lad who might never set the world alight but will never hurt a fly or create a hint of a wave. One of life’s loyal foot soldiers.

Owner of the park is Bobby, played by Glaswegian Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot, Gangs of New York) with a gruff shell hiding a soft centre.

Bobby is a loner, we never quite find out why, did he once have a wife, a relationship? We never know but we do know that if he did it was a long time ago as he sets out, suited and booted, nervous and terrified, on a date with Carol from the Deli - the deli, probably, being the only one in town, and probably a generous description at that.

janie and Bobby

Hiftu Quasem as Janie with her boss Bobby played by Gary Lewis

And despite his offhand treatment of staff and guests, we find he really does care, and has feelings for Janie, seeing her more as the daughter he never had, and even Ed gets his approval as a suitable suitor for her.

Bobby litters what he says with the F word, industrial work clothes spawning industrial language, except when the surly mask falls away and truculent becomes tender. In Lewis’s experienced hands, Bobby is the most complex of the quartet.

Finally there is Oxford School of Drama graduate Lewis MacKinnon (Young Wallander) as Elliot who shows up unannounced to see his little brother Ed, a relationship never spotted when Ed was first employed and something he, understandably, never talked about. It is an appearance which seems to fill everyone with dread.

Ed is protective of his mother who it seems has thrown Elliot out, and despairs at the resentment that is always laid on him for his brother’s misdemeanours, yet he battles with the dilemma that Elliot is family, even if fathers are different, so no matter how difficult to accept he wants to believe is brother might at least have changed.

Bobby, who normally shows no real liking for anyone seems to dislike Elliot with a vengeance for something in the past, while Janie’s reaction . . . that is something else. The two obviously have a past and not a happy one, and she has an unforgiving anger about an event we know is going to be teased out, slowly and painfully.

MacKinnon’s Elliot is a cheerful chap on the face of it, smiling, even jovial, but there is a sinister side to the smiles, whether induced by the reaction of the other three, we are told he is a bad apple remember, or merely because he is a character you just cannot take to, we will never know, but when the past is finally revealed even Ed is shocked and sorry.

We had to have suspected at least the gist of Janie's terrible secret but the reality was perhaps even worse, even more despicable than what we thought was coming. "I'm not a monster", pleads Elliot, but a seconder for that is hard to find. 

The Elliot affair is the beginning of the end. The camp site has been in trouble for years, not even close to paying its way. And when the inevitable happens Bobby, the pressure of keeping the dying camp alive behind him, finds a belated new lease of life is now dating a female mechanic.

Ed, is now jobless, with thoughts perhaps turning once more to Tesco while Janie is packed and ready to move on but, as she sets out, she is suddenly in no rush to go and returns to sit down with Ed. Is it friendship . . . or something more? Writer Nurse leaves it to us, their future is whatever we decide.

Directed by Amelia Sears and filmed at Riverside Studios before a live audience Miles is available online at £18 until 28-02-23 or in a triple header with two other award winners Tikkun Olam and The Fall for £30.

Roger Clarke


Original has become a theatrical force to be reckoned with, sporting a burgeoning catalogue of online and touring productions which invariably impress.

It specialises in the unfamiliar, the niche, and, the clue being in the name, the original. Even titles you might have heard of, such as The Mirror Crack’d, on current tour, is a new, sparkling adaptation breathing life, humour and intrigue into a 60 year old plot.

Since March 2020 Original’s online site has streamed 14 productions more than 54,000 times to more than 57 countries, employed more than 110 freelance theatre and film workers at a time when theatres and productions were shut down and as now created an awards scheme is there to unearth new talent and provide a gateway and first production of their works.  

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