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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2007

  A History of Scotland (in 60 Minutes or Less)
Underbelly, Edinburgh

Jo Caird
posted 28 August 2007

A painfully skinny and anaemic looking man wearing a ginger wig sewn into a tartan hat takes to the stage and begins to expound on the many clichéd glories of Scotland. His two sidekicks begrudgingly do as he bids, playing the role of stereotypical rugged Scot and his best friend, a sheep. The acting is wooden and the ideas dull. But then it all turns round: the sidekicks revolt, this is not the play they want to do; there’s more to Scotland than kilts, haggis and the Loch Ness Monster.

The company starts again, this time full of enthusiasm and energy. In one hour they cover the history of Scotland from the Roman ‘discovery’ of Caledonia, to the invention of the telephone. This historical material has the potential to be bone-dry, but there’s barely a boring moment.

The atmosphere seems informal, Andy, Tania and David calling each other by their real names and often laughing at their own antics, but the informality is an illusion, the show has clearly been well rehearsed. As they chat and sing about kings, battles and revolutions, the company keep things exciting, constantly interrupting themselves and telling each other off for perceived bad behaviour or ideas. A few very basic props are used to represent everything from prisons to spiderwebs to telephones, the children in the audience literally called upon to use their imagination. At one point they become soldiers in battle, shouting and stamping their feet along with the actors.

This is a great children’s show because it doesn’t fall into the trap of patronising its audience. There are plenty of very silly jokes but also many aimed at an adult crowd, with particularly funny jibes at the world of theatre. Occasional over-the-top moments do not ruin this extremely fun show.


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