Endgame: a Reiver’s tale
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Map of the English and Scottish Borders in Reiver days.

Endgame: a Reiver's tale

written by Chris Neville-Smith
after Reiver: Tales from the Borders by Steve Byron
directed by Jake Murray
performed by Mickey Cochrane

So, you got me. John Croser. Head of the dreaded Croser family. The terrors of the Tweed. But it’s over now, isn’t it? It’s over for all of us. We finally got the full wrath of the Crown."

Northumberland 1603. For centuries, the Reiver clans have been in charge, with the kingdoms of England and Scotland too busy fighting each other to get their attention. But now there is one king for both England and Scotland who wants to break their power once and for all. And they want to make an example of John Croser. But before a long journey to Hexham and a short journey to the scaffold, he is left alone, held at gunpoint by one soldier of the king. Is the game really up, or does the notorious John Croser have one final trick up his sleeve?

I wrote this for Elysium Theatre's playwriting competition Reivers: voices from the borders, which in turn was inspired by the Reiver Trilogy by Steve Byron. Those stories were set around the half-forgotten era of the Border Reivers, where the area surrounding the English and Scottish borders was lawless and Reiver families. One moment they might be at war with each other, the next moment they were best mates. But the thing that got my interest was what finally brought the Reivers down. When James VI of Scotland also became James I of England, suddenly there was no reason for a no-man's-land between the two. But their Reivers wouldn't go quietly, culminating in the notorious events of "ill week".

This was recorded at Hatfield College chapel, Durham, on the 19th February, and is expected to be released as an audio play in mid-March (platform TBD). I hope to post it here as soon as it goes live.