Alistair MacLeod sits in the lobby of the Neptune Theatre, sipping coffee from a paper cup; differentiated from the image of your typical Scottish grandfather only by the stream of reporters taking turns at his side.

The venerable Cape Breton author is graciously entertaining questions on the newest staging of the theatrical adaptation of his 1999 novel, No Great Mischief, which officially opens Friday at Neptune’s Fountain Hall.

“I think it’s important that the play is performed here in Nova Scotia,” MacLeod tells Metro. “It comes out of Nova Scotia as a novel so it’s nice that it comes back to Nova Scotia as a play.”


The play, which was adapted from the original by David S. Young, stars David McIlwraith as protagonist Alexander MacDonald and Duncan Fraser as Alexander’s drunken brother Calum. Richard Rose, who helped with the adaptation and directed the play in Toronto and Ottawa, is directing.

Rose says while he has no connections to the east coast, he was interested in MacLeod’s story about a part of Canada he feels is being left behind.

“We’re telling a story about Canada that must not be forgotten,” he says. “It is a part of Canada that is being forgotten, by the urbanization of Canada. I’ve become very interested in those types of stories.”

Rose explains the story is set in a specific place and time, namely a youth spent in Cape Breton in the mid-20th century, and it speaks to people from diverse backgrounds.

“It’s touched on a story that resonates beyond Cape Breton and resonates with the human experience,” he says.

“I would not say that the novel speaks to present day Sydney Mines,” MacLeod adds. “But the other thing that’s important to say is that it’s fiction.

“And fiction is fiction, not truth.”

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