Mull Theatre gives new life to historic coat

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Mull Theatre’s Lee Hendrick has written to The Oban Times revealing a chance discovery that has given new life to a historic garment.

Lee wrote: ‘I have just finished costuming the Mull Theatre’s Electrifying Mr Johnston by Robert Dawson Scott.

‘The play is set in the 1940s. I arranged with Shirley Robinson, the wardrobe mistress at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, to search their costume store.

Lorna MacEchern with her nephew Lorne in 1961.
Lorna MacEchern with her nephew Lorne in 1961.

‘In a special store within the store, I came across a coat with a note attached saying the coat had been donated by Caroline Daniels. The note said it had belonged to Lorna MacEchern, the secretary to the Duke of Buccleuch. She bought the coat in a shop in Campbeltown and wore it for 50 years.

‘During her time working for the Duke it had ‘had a very swanky life, rubbing shoulders in high society’. Caroline hoped that the coat might ‘continue to have an exciting life’. It was perfect for the production.

Lorna MacEchern with Noel Coward circa 1961.
Lorna MacEchern with Noel Coward circa 1961.

‘On the opening night of the play at Mull Theatre on Friday February 8, in the after show discussion, I was invited by the director to tell the story of the coat.

‘Earlier that evening, before the show started, I had emailed the address written on the original note that had been pinned to the coat to say that the coat was being worn by actor Beth Marshall in the scene where she portrays Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

‘I was thrilled later that evening to discover that I had a reply. The coat had belonged to Caroline’s great-aunt Lorna. Caroline was moved by my email and said it was like getting a reply from a message in a bottle.

‘I sent Caroline a photo taken by Sarah Darling of Beth Marshall wearing the coat with actor Stephen Clyde playing Tom Johnston and the tour dates. One of the family was booked to go and see the show when it performed in Appin on Tuesday February 12. The show is touring until March 9.’

Go to http://www.comar.co.uk for remaining tour dates.