Play about case that changed legal history previewed on Cumbernauld stage ahead of Fringe run

Jason Harvey as Daniel McNaughton - pic: David Harvey
Jason Harvey as Daniel McNaughton - pic: David Harvey

In 1843 Glasgow woodturner Daniel McNaughton waits in his cell as a jury decides his fate for the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Robert Peel.

Despite civil servant Edward Drummond’s death as a result of the incident there would be no hangman’s noose for McNaughton.

It is claimed he was suffering paranoid delusions at the time and became a test case in the ‘insanity’ plea, which changed the law forever.

Condorrat actor Jason Harvey steps into McNaughton’s shoes for an adaptation of writer Steve Gooch’s award-wining one-man play.

Jason said: “It is a fascinating case and while there is some conjecture about the outcome it is a very important story that needs to be told.”

McNaughton will be previewed at the Burroughs Club in Carbrain on Friday, August 2, before Jason takes it to the Edinburgh Fringe at the Scottish Arts Club (venue 310) from August 9-14 and Space on the Mile (venue 39) from August 19-24.

Jason says it is the hardest part he has ever had to prepare for.

He said: “Normally when I am given a part it’s because it is a contemporary setting and it is felt I’m right for it.

“I might have been a joiner, but that is where the similarities end ... everything about men in the 19th century was so different to how we are today.

“From the language to the dress it is all slightly alien, so long before I even started learning the script I was putting together the character of McNaughton in my mind.”

Thanks to the show being sponsored by Mark Mcallister Tiling, Ferguson Restoration, CM Projects Scotland Ltd, Soho Oil, Sprinkler Services Scotland, and Pacific Audio (Glasgow) all proceeds from the shows will go to the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

Jason said: “SAMH do amazing work and given the nature of the play I wanted to help them, so I’m grateful to the sponsors for allowing that to happen.

“No one should ever have to struggle with mental health issues alone and who knows if there had been a SAMH in his day maybe McNaughton wouldn’t have done what he did.”

The Burroughs Club performance will be at 7pm, and tickets costing £8/6 are available for the club or Achray shop.

For tickets to the Edinburgh shows visit https://tickets.edfringe.com.