A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Ghillie Dhu


Scots is an irreverent story, based in truth, about a country and what it means to be that country: Scotland. It starts and is told by a toilet. Yep, a toilet. Not an auspicious way to start, but by the end (I do apologise) we are all flushed with success…

From A Play, A Pie and A Pint and the Òran Mór in the West End of Glasgow, this is just sublime. It has it all.

We begin with the set up. It is ripe with opportunity for humour. Of course it is, but once it is set up, you need to land. From the first entrance, it is about that humour. Whether it be the prostate check or not washing your hands on the way out, we recognise that the basest may be mined for effect. From there, the history lesson goes apace. It is driven by some exceptional vocals and songs. Alongside that musical ability are tunes that are recognisable and rewritten to fit our purpose and bring us further onside.

The history is rudely—as it ought to be—interrupted about halfway through with a real change. Having had the glory of our inventing past illuminated—including of the toaster—we are then brought to heel, by the women. This monstrous regiment refuse to accept bit parts and quite rightly force themselves to the forefront. Through song and sheer force, they invade the stage and the narrative, leaving us with a more balanced and nuanced sense of ourselves.

But it is just the beginning.

Having recognised our debt to one minority and having also been engaged fully in the performance through that combination of slick direction, sharp and witty script and confident and convincing performances, there is a lull. Having used every form of entrance, every prop as microphones and a plethora of different styles of costumes—and a horse called Steve—our cast then bring us up to the recent past.

And it is still set in the lavatory—where some forbidden relationships were to be found.

Here, there is the shame of Scotland being behind the curve in recognising the legitimacy of gay relationships. We can claim to be onboard now, but we did take our sweet time about it. Having had the “we are a nation” feeling stamped on our theatrical passports, we are now being asked to consider what kind of nation should we be. The poignancy of the song and the ensemble nature of male, female, young and older alike in the cast, with Pride flags worn and held around us, was not lost.

But they are not finished, there is one more sticky subject to be considered.

Given we are in the lavatory, it was always going to be the one thing most folk would not be found dead talking about: periods.

Given that Scotland has legally led the way on free provision of period products, this was an opportunity to say we may have started slow, but we are now ready to lead.

I shall be honest and say I got really emotional during this. Not because I am a proud Scot and this spoke to my sense of pride as a Scot, the downtrodden peeking out from under the English heel, etc, etc… not a jot of that. It was the song in 1976, and boys like us that did it. It was poignant. What made the whole vent more effective was that, instead of it being a performance that sat on one side of the referendum debate or the other, it was about how we should see ourselves as a community. The greatest strength here is that it asks you about what we should be and not what we ought to become. It is about the here and now.

To find myself with tears rolling down my face because I want to scream my answer makes that theatre thing all the more worthwhile, does it not?

Reviewer: Donald C Stewart

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