Rob Royby Harry Smith
Genre: Drama, Operetta
Format of Original Source: Plot summary
Recommended Adaptation Length: Two Hours
Candidate for Adaptation? Promising
The first act of “Rob Roy” opens in Perth, where Lochiel and his Highlanders have stolen a considerable sum of money in the keeping of the Provost, with which they propose to aid Prince Charles Stuart in his designs upon the English throne. Flora MacDonald, a zealous partisan of the young Pretender, appears upon the scene, and induces the Provost to consent to a gathering of the clans in Perth. Hearing of a Scotch victory, he compels his daughter Janet to marry Sandy MacSherry, the town-crier, who claims relationship with the Stuarts. In the mean time English grenadiers enter Perth, and their captain, Ralph Sheridan, falls in love with Janet. The Provost, who is always on the side that is uppermost, forces his daughter to declare herself the Captain’s wife and then accuses Sandy of stealing the missing money. Janet obeys him, but immediately afterwards Rob Roy captures the town, and the Provost, to get rid of his new English son-in-law, causes his arrest. It now appears that the crafty Janet when she went through the Scotch form of marriage with Sandy and the Captain was already secretly married to Rob Roy. To escape her two nominal husbands she proposes to go with Rob Roy’s Highlanders as his orderly. The act closes with the gathering of the clans and the elevation of the standard.
Inaptly entitled “Rob Roy” — there’s a strong, interesting heroine at the center of this rather dramatic and swashbuckly telling of the heroes of a Scottish uprising. There’s a lot of action here, but also a couple of dramaturgical missteps. Still — the female hero at the center of this retelling might make for an appealing musical, if you can tame its broad broad strokes.
A word of caution: This plot summary was written by 19th-century literary critic George Upton, who often mixes personal opinion with summation. You would be advised to consult the original source material, if the general plot appeals to you.
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