To suggest that novelist Alan Bissett's latest piece of stand-up theatre is close to home is something of an understatement. What the F**kirk? was written as part of Falkirk Story, an artistic initiative developed by Falkirk Community Trust as a result of the town winning a Creative Place Award. This has also enabled the publication of Alight Here, an anthology of Falkirk writers edited by Bissett. All of which finds him taking a week-long tour of the area's outlying community centres with a cheeky piece of oral history driven by a polemical intent.
Ushered in by live guitar loops played by Adam Stafford, who soundtracks throughout, Bissett's chatty, speak-easy demeanour takes us through his love/hate relationship with the town of his birth along with a potted history of some of its key moments . As well as the Battle of Falkirk that inspired Braveheart, more recent inventions include the world's first Irn Bru factory, plus the hitherto unexplored connections between Falkirk, Game of Thrones and Iron Man.
Inbetween are filmed reflections on how Falkirk is perceived today by a pan-generational cross-section of the town's residents, and even some older and wiser reflections from Falkirk born former Arab Strap guitarist Malcolm Middleton, who with band-mate Aidan Moffat caused a civic scandal in 1998 with some brutally disparaging opinions on the place that sired them.
As a local boy done good, such a prodigal's return is lapped up by an audience who relate to Bissett's understated common touch. Director Sasha Kyle wraps this all up in a witty meditation on community and local pride that goes beyond economics to put people first.
The Herald, June 5th 2015