The aurora borealis erupts from the darkness, and the flickering light cuts through a comet hurtling through space.
It’s an image that Local Hero returns to again and again, literally illuminating our own mortality while also being at risk of being erased by humanity’s hubris.
Adapted from the 1983 Bafta-winning film, and oil was found in the North Seaoff the coast of a small fishing village called Furness Scotland.
News reaches an oil company in Houston, Texas, and its aging CEO, Hopper, is determined to build a refinery there – so he sends his best man, Mack, to the sleepy village to strike a deal with its residents.
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Happer also assigns him a second mission: to find a comet in the vast, pristine sky of the Scottish Highlands that he can call his name.
At first, the plot seems familiar. An urban bully must adapt to the eccentric locals with humorous results and finds himself falling in love with the very place he’s been assigned to bulldoze.
Tony Award winner Gabriel Ebert, making his UK stage debut as Mack, brings a goofiness and warmth to a character who could easily have been played as a stereotypical yuppie.
So when he saw that night sky reflected above him for the first time, he had a look of childlike wonder on his face.
From that point on, I was enthralled by how his business trip turned into a self-existential quest that asked more important questions about what home is and even the purpose of life.
If the beginning seemed familiar, the conclusion diverged from the typical Hollywood happy ending I was expecting – all for the best.
In fact, the climax was one of the most simple yet effective lighting designs I’ve ever seen. Mack pours out handfuls of sand from his pockets and the way it shimmered and refracted like the northern lights themselves was just perfect.
Just like this natural wonder, this show requires patience at first.
But as soon as the spectacle begins, you won’t be able to take your eyes off it.