The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant, Assembly Rooms, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Kyle Bissett Productions
Alan Bissett (writer and producer) Sacha Kyle (director), David Bryce (photo), Lou Hickey and Swimmer One (music), Andy Cowan (sound design), Arthur Sevestre (set artist)
Paul James Corrigan (Bogle), Michele Gallagher (Selkie), Martin McCormick (Lord Black Donald) and Elaine C Smith (Banshee)
Running time

It is only a matter of weeks till Scotland goes to the polls to make the biggest decision imaginable – to vote on whether Scots want to live in an independent nation or not. The subject has been rightly been picked up across the Festival in various forms but few may be as overtly partisan as this latest production from acclaimed writer and Yes campaign activist Alan Bissett.

In this self-deprecating panto style piece that is fair hoachin wi Scottish clichés and parodies, we are in the underworld of bogles, banshees, demons and selkies who, it turns out, have been feeding off human misery for centuries. It is their faerie mischief that is behind world events so why would they not have a hand in Scotland’s independence referendum?

On the stage furnished with some rustic furniture decorated with spidery webs, a Scottish haar swirls as a list of wee and not so wee touns is read out. We then begin to see Hogmanay in faerie land and meet the characters – sexy Selkie (Michele Gallagher) and the brash, kilt swinging bogle played with gallusness by Paul James Corrigan who needs to enunciate more (NOT amend his accent!) to be heard better at the back of an auditorium.

The diabolical dealmaker Lord Black Donald is magnificently portrayed by Martin McCormick whose finely tuned body language was a joy throughout. Comedy actress Elaine C Smith is perfect as the sentimental besom of a banshee.

The cycle of seduction, delusion, doom and fear and the cringing mind-set of being ‘too poor, too wee, too stupid’ was shown in fine variety show style for the most part over the piece.

In the event of a Yes vote, the faeries would lose their special powers along with the ballads that go with them but like the angel in Wim Wenders’ classic film Wings of Desire who opted to leave the eternal world, they would become human and revel in their new experiences.

This piece of cheeky, inventive didactic theatre is Bissett’s satirical poem Vote Britain made flesh. The mock ballot and standing ovation from this mostly partisan, near capacity audience must have been like hearing strains of the start of a new sang for this innovative company.

The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant has been financed entirely by crowdfunding from pro-independence supporters and campaigners.
You have been warned!

Suitability 14+
31/07- 24 (not 18)