The Professor of Adventure, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
Millican Dalton was a treehugger long before the term was invented.
How else would a man, who lived alone in a cave in the Lake District, measure the seasons than by wrapping his arms round the trees each year to gauge their growth?
There’s that same sense of intimate embrace about this captivating play.
It’s written and performed by Peter Macqueen, though it might be more accurate to say he inhabits the role, the lifestyle and indeed the mind of this Lakeland eccentric in two hours of gently immersive theatre. Dalton spent the latter part of 40 years of his life, all spent outdoors, occasionally holed up in a cave in Borrowdale. Never a recluse, he guided mountaineering groups on to the fells, and led a simple life of self sufficiency.
Macqueen makes all this into a monologue, delivered in the suitably cave-like dimensions of the venue’s studio space, to an audience who become one of his climbing parties. It’s all set between the first snows of winter 1940 and the harbingers of spring 1941 at a time when one man’s freedom to live as he please may be fairly set against that freedom being fought for around the world. But Macqueen does not labour the point.
Nor does the writer/actor dwell on Dalton’s back story. You learn more about that in the programme notes.
Instead he treats us to a wistful, whimsical and quietly wonderful couple of hours in the company of a man communing with nature.