Preview: Puellae, Summerhall

The Scotsman / Liam Rudden

Shieldinch to Summerhall. That’s the journey River City favourite Nalini Chetty takes this Festival. Chetty and Edinburgh actress Samara MacLaren, team up at the old Dick Vet school to tell the story of Tess and Neve.

A pair of 29-year-old, privately educated and successful young women, they appear to be worlds away from their gawky schoolgirl selves… or are they?

It’s the girls’ annual Edinburgh Festival reunion and, fuelled by a bottle of Pinot Grigio and 15 years of secrets, the chips are about to hit the fan.

MacLaren, whose credits include Merlin and Lip Service, says, “It’s so wonderful to be working on a piece that has such dynamic and interesting roles for Scottish women and, of course, it’s just fantastic to be in Edinburgh, the city which has always inspired me – my home town.

“The last time I performed at the Fringe was in 2005 as a student, and the Fringe is always a fantastic time of year – it brings such a buzz to the city. I always try to catch as much as I can.”

Chetty, known to millions as Zinnie Hassoun in the Scottish soap, adds, “Writing Puellae has been a personal project, and a real challenge as it deals with issues quite close to my heart, but at the same time is darkly comical.

“I wanted to entertain as well as provoke discussion. Niamh and Tess are two women only just on the brink of getting to know themselves. They are ‘good’ friends historically but haven’t noticed how much they have drifted in the last decade.

“Creating them was an enjoyable challenge. They draw on the experiences of many of the women in my life and on myself. At times they are endearing, but of course like everyone they are flawed.”

The play, described as ‘frighteningly honest,’ marks the debut of FraeNaewhere Theatre Company and is produced by Marilyne MacLaren, one time head of education at Edinburgh District Council and mother of Samara.

“I asked my mother to produce the show because she knows how to get things done,” laughs the younger MacLaren.

Mum admits, “I am not entirely new to theatre, however, it came as a complete surprise and I was touched when the girls asked me to help with Puellae. As far as pressure goes, I think I am more anxious about the play than I normally would be. I have such admiration for both girls and their unswerving dedication to their craft.”

Laughing, she adds, “I did wonder if Samara and I would end up shouting at each other as we are both fairly feisty but so far that hasn’t happened.”