Once, when the world (or at least this reviewer) was younger, a Scottish play was presented, the ripples of which continue, albeit unnoticed in these later days. It was titled ‘Dead Dad Dog’ and it's back in its original Edinburgh home for a week.
Which is more time than Wullie, deceased father of Eck, has when he returns to Earth from wherever he may have been in the fifteen years since his demise. Eck is an actor who hopes his future contains more than lengthy periods ‘resting’ in a Scotland which can’t provide him with a decent income.
Determined to do better, Eck is up for an interview with the BBC followed by a hot date with Roseanne. But, as in all good families Ma (or in this case Pa) manages to mess things up for their offspring while intending quite the opposite. Confronted with the ghost of his father demanding a cup of tea on the morning of his vital interview, Eck discovers that wherever he wants or has to go, Wullie comes too.
Whether on the bus, at his interview, in a smart bar or even when (potentially) coital with his girlfriend, Eck suffers the slings and arrows produced by Wullie’s parental concern, paying the price of being the son of his father.
In the silent aftermath of this duologue about being Scottish, wanting to make one’s mark out of pietas and patriotism as much as personal pride, of wanting to say more but always managing to say little, being tied to apron strings and wanting to cut loose, much of what we see on today’s stage in Scotland came about. Slowly, not without errors and misjudgements, but nonetheless surely.
When ‘Dead Dad Dog’ hit the boards in 1987, persons on arts council boards could deride the search for Scottish plays as ‘haggis hunting’. Now, in what might be called the ‘post Black Watch’ era, we can say ‘S’ no bad, so it’s no, eh?’ and expect a reasoned response to what’s been presented.Jamie and Chris Begg (presumably also father and son) give full measure to the comic moments of ‘Dead Dad Dog’ while remaining aware of its darker side and its (small n) nationalist sub-text. This is a welcome revival of a small but very well formed play which has been out of repertoire too long. A wee gem, lovingly polished. It’s short Edinburgh run ends on 13th August, but is well worth catching if you can.
Dates: 5-13 August, 19.05