Bloody Trams

The People of Edinburgh

Traverse Theatre

From 05 August 2014 to 10 August 2014

Rating: ***

Review by Philip Fisher

The People of Edinburgh are so ungrateful. Their rulers have lavished over £¾m (with an interest burden that will take it past £1bn) on a glittery tram service that goes nowhere useful and has blighted their lives for the last decade and more.

It is the Scottish equivalent of the Heathrow Express, providing an expensive link between the airport and the city centre that was already there using buses.

This show has a cabaret atmosphere with three performers: David Paul Jones at the piano plus Nicola Roy and Jonathan Holt, the latter often repeating words recorded on their phones.

There may be a deliberate bias but almost nobody interviewed has anything good to say about these Bloody Trams. In a spirit of enterprise, your reviewer did consider taking a ride but regrettably, they do not link any two places that are both on his agenda and more than 200 metres apart.

One problem with Verbatim Theatre is that when investigating a familiar topic, it often merely tells listeners what they already knew and that is largely the case here.

There are new some fascinating facts revealed during the late night hour, at least for visitors to the city.

Up to 1952, Edinburgh enjoyed a tram service that had a significantly wider reach covering much of the city. Had the lines been left in place, the new venture might have been cost-effective and popular.

Further, many small businesses have disappeared as a result of the long construction process, which perhaps isn’t so surprising.

Cyclists hate the trams too, apparently falling off after getting stuck in the lines. While this sounds like the stuff of slapstick comedy, a trip to A&E is rarely that good a laugh.

The sleek, heavy, white vehicles bring to mind the old joke. What is big, white and looks like a white elephant? The answer is an Edinburgh Tram.