City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Tour Guide Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 06 August 2011

Ian Hanmore
Show details
Gary Roden Productions Ltd
Running time: 
Vicky Jones (director), James Graham (writer), Gary Roden (producer), Bill Flynn (driver), Lauren Harvey (stage manager)
Ian Hanmore (The Guide), Rebecca McCoach (Cara) (also played by Lucia D'Inverno/Hanni Shinton), Aaron Jones (Johnny) (also played by Danny Cunningham/Dan Kelsey/Sam Scott)

Join our tour guide on one of Edinburgh’s vintage open-top buses - a world of knowledge, insight and discovery awaits, as advertised.

We will see the City’s dichotomy, the Old and New Towns, its Jekyll and Hyde character. Not everything is as is seems though, not least with our guide. He too has a history and seems a man split right down the middle, or perhaps just coming apart at the seams. He has ridden his tour bus through 19 years of boom and bust and is approaching his final stop. This will be his last tour and now he is determined that truths will be told. Just as the Old Town faces the New Town, the future has to be faced with the past.

As the bus leaves the Old Town so the guide also goes off script, in fact the whole tour goes “off piste”. We see the city he so obviously loves through his eyes, with a history so entangled with his own that his tour spiel becomes a stream of consciousness, almost channelling his strict and demanding father. Perhaps it’s easier to deal with the past rather than the future, but on a circular tour, what goes around comes around and face it he must.

While the Fringe has had its fair share of shows in alternative venues the bus is more than a gimmick, it’s a vehicle for James Graham’s clever script, which is jam packed with seemingly throwaway lines that have double (and deeper) meanings. There’s humour in here too, both as our guide jollies us along and in his acerbic comments on the failings of modern society.

There is a little loss of dramatic tension in the closing section but fears that it will run out of steam (or diesel) are put to rest by a brilliantly heart-warming conclusion.

This terrific production is carefully devised and directed so that the variable timings of the route have no effect on the dialogue – or at least none that the great performance by Ian Hanmore allows us to discern. The stage set speaks for itself. Clearly there is a lot of Edinburgh in here and local residents will probably get even more from this production than visitors. If you haven’t done a bus tour of your city this is the one to do – but you had better hurry, it could be the guide’s last.

Show times: 3-28 August (except 8, 15, 22) 6.15pm and 8.15pm

Ticket prices: £7-50 - £14.50

Note: The departure point may be revised from Market Street (Venue 87) by around 100m to Jeffrey Street (near Venue 260). Signposting is provided.