It is hoped that a play based on the story of a historic riot on the Black Isle will have the chance to tour the region later this year.
The Resolis Riot, which tells the story of an incident in Cromarty in 1843 when locals rescued a protester who had been imprisoned in the courthouse, is being staged as part of Cromarty Crime & Thrillers Weekend next month .
On Friday May 6 there will be two performances of the play at Victoria Hall written by Jon Palmer who runs The Cheese Shop in The Old Police Station in Cromarty.
Before moving to the area, Jon was a theater manager in Yorkshire and having been asked to produce a crime drama for the first crime weekend in 2013, he turned to real local history for his latest drama.
Performed with life-size puppets and puppeteers from the local community, live music will be provided by composer, cellist Marjorie Paxton and two other musicians.
“In total, we have six puppeteers and a performer who plays a journalist character who is the kind of storyteller who creates a thread through the story,” said Jon Palmer.
He explained that asking amateur performers to learn all the lines and commit to hours of rehearsal for a performance that would normally only be seen once, is something he tried to circumvent in the past.
He came up with the idea of using puppets and recording the dialogue, the performers only having to work their puppets for the two scheduled performances.
The play was originally scheduled to be seen during Crime Weekend 2020, which – like almost every other live show in the country – had to be postponed due to Covid.
Jon had turned away from the usually light topic of the previous pieces to focus on local history.
“The woman was taken as a scapegoat to the Cromarty courthouse jail that night and the next day all the people of Resolis marched on Cromarty and broke down the jail door and dragged her out. “
“I wanted to do something much more serious and called the Resolis riot a real crime in the region,” Jon explained.
“In 1843 it was the time of the Disruption when the Free Church split from the Church of Scotland, so it was kind of an early version of people taking control back.
“They objected to having ministers imposed on them by the landed nobility. The riot itself prevented the minister from being inducted into the church and a woman was arrested following the scuffle, where shots were fired – and local people were throwing rocks at the church of Resolis. The woman was taken as a scapegoat to the Cromarty courthouse jail that night and the next day all the people of Resolis marched on Cromarty and broke down the jail door and forced him out.
The Irish Fusiliers were drafted in, Jon said, and for about four to six weeks they tried to round up the perpetrators.
Jon said: “While we’ll have to see how the play unfolds, in terms of future life, we’re thinking of doing a little mini-tour of some of the Dark Isle’s party halls. We may be able to do that in the fall.
The Riot Of Resolis will be played at 2pm and 8pm at Victoria Hall, Cromarty on Friday May 6 as part of Cromarty Crime & Thrillers Weekend. Seating will be in the round, so numbers are limited, organizers said. For more information on tickets you can email: [email protected] or telephone 01381 600354.