One of Scotland's leading young playwrights, Lewis-born Iain Finlay MacLeod, has a network airing this week of The Summer Walking - his first Afternoon Play for BBC Radio Four - on Wednesday, August 12, at 2.15pm.
The Summer Walking is a powerful drama offering a fresh look at life in contemporary Sutherland adapted from Iain Finlay's acclaimed stage play, The Pearlfisher, which premiered at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre in the autumn of 2007.
The play is set in Sutherland and tells the story of Catriona, a young traveller, fishing illegally for freshwater pearls. When she is confronted by a gamekeeper, an Iranian asylum seeker called Hassan working on the local estate, the pair recognise each other as outsiders and strike up a friendship. Hassan explains how he has gone from being a journalist in Tehran to working on a Scottish salmon river. In turn, Catriona tells him how her people, the once proud and nomadic Highland Travellers, have been reduced to living in static caravan parks.
After agreeing to pay Hassan a percentage of her haul, Catriona continues pearl fishing – a traditional skill taught to her by her grandfather – but the head gamekeeper gets wind of their collusion and wreaks his own brand of cruel justice.
Catriona's situation becomes increasingly difficult – she's pregnant and now has no income to support herself or her feckless partner, Alec. Then, after years away on the road, her beloved grandmother, Jess, reappears, returning to the village she left as a young girl to lay to rest some old ghosts.
The cast features Ann Louise Ross as Jess, Amy Manson as Catriona (currently starring in BBC One's pre-Raphaelite drama Desperate Romantics), Khalid Laith as Hassan, Finn den Hertog as Alec, Jimmy Chisholm as Eddie, and Wendy Seager as Joan.
Iain Finlay MacLeod lives on Lewis and is currently working on a dramatisation of Ann Cleeves' detective novel set in Shetland, Raven Black, which will broadcast on BBC Radio Four as a Saturday Play in January 2010.