Jocky Wilson Said, Gilded Balloon Rose Street, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Jane Livingstone & Jonathan Cairney (writers), Tony Cownie (director)
Grant O’Rourke
Running time

One hundred and eighty! No, that’s not a top darts score but the number of miles that Scottish darts champion Jocky Wilson has to go to reach his next gig in Las Vegas

It is 1979 and oor Jocky has managed to become detached from his travelling party in the middle of the Nevada desert where the temperature is hitting the 80s. Noting that ‘It’s a braw day for the Burntisland Highland Games’, he strikes up a conversation with his only companion, a cactus he calls Spike.

Spike hears the story of the legendary gummsy wee Fife man, John Thomas Wilson, who rose from the ranks of the unemployed to being twice winner of the World Professional Darts Championship as well as a multitude of other prestigious darts prizes. He did all this with his trademark fag in one hand and a drink by his side, retaining strength and humour in spite of hardships.

Grant O’Rourke holds the audience throughout this ideally timed Fringe show with a fantastic convincing performance that goes through an array of voices and accents flawlessly. He covers the US guy misnaming him ‘Jacky Watson’; cockney Eric Bristow; some Fife worthies; a wimpy West Coast dole officer and there’s a Geordie in there too. He talks about the tragi -clown trick of squaring the circle to be serious enough to play and win darts while being daft enough to be able to act the fool on stage. And of course his favourite song was the Norman Wisdom theme tune Don’t Laugh at me cos I’m a Fool.

Under Tony Cownie's tight direction, this is the first time Jocky Wilson has been portrayed on either stage or screen so it is fitting that this warm tribute was done by folk who both admired and understood him. Brother and sister writing team Jane Livingstone and Jonathan Cairney, who are fellow Fifers, have created a tightly written, funny and revelatory piece about the local man who become a champion against the odds. Bullseye!

5-25 August at 15.45 Age recommended 16+