Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Whatever the results of the Holyrood elections, it's unlikely that
anyone but the most naïve of dyed-in-the-wool triumphalists will be
satisfied. That'll be the politicians, then. Meanwhile in the real
world, hope and cynicism collide in this specially commissioned
election day play knitted together over the last few days by a
consortium of seven leading Scottish playwrights under the gimlet eye
of director David Greig, who himself contributes.
Taking its cue from The Eagles 1977 soft-rock classic, a plethora of
Scots icons, from Sean Connery, Nessie and Trainspotting to a healthy
Buckfast and chips diet are projected behind the lobby of the sort of
tartan-lined hot spot Visit Scotland would die for. Here Lithuanian
bar-maid Svetlana plans her escape as home-grown galumph Gavin attempts
to make her stay. From this framework spins out a patchwork of
monologues from a bar full of drunken writers (perish the thought) that
manage to be simultaneously disgruntled and terminally sentimental, a
shotgun marriage with guests planning their sexual conquests on the
basis of the AV system, and a ghost who becomes witness to
disappointment behind every closed door.
If all this suggests an over-riding downbeat tone to this follow-up to
last year's Westminster election dissection of Gordon Brown's brain,
actors Barrie Hunter, Andrew Scott Ramsay and Ashley Smith have fun
regardless in an at times scurrilously metaphorical living newspaper.
Best and funniest of all is an after-hours liaison between a thinly
disguised Downing Street toff and a male prostitute in a See-You-Jimmy
wig and tartan bunnet. This points up with little ambiguity exactly
what some might feel England has been doing to Scotland for years.
The Herald, May 6th 2011