‘The Last Queen of Scotland’ comes roaring across the Tay Bridge and into the perhaps appropriately named Iron Belly space of Underbelly in the Cowgate. This is essentially a one-person production brimming with, it may sometimes feel, rather more ideas than it can fully address in the time available.
Perhaps one has to be of this reviewer’s age group, (or even older) to begin to appreciate the trauma caused by Ugandan President-For-Life Idi Amin’s decision to expel and appropriate (each was only allowed to leave the country with the equivalent of £7.00) the Asian (i.e. Indian descent) population of his country who had been there since colonial times.
As an embodiment of those who experienced events as complex and, for many, life altering as these, Rehanna Macdonald’s character fairly fizzes with the frustration, anger and regrets that many had at the time and continue to feel. The Ugandan Resettlement Board, an organisation almost as colonial in its attitude as its name might suggest, attempted to clumsily engage with these enforced immigrants, many of whom settled in Leicester, despite the local council’s attempts to persuade them not to. Jaimina Jethwa’s parents came to Dundee, and a council house in Fintry.
Fae Fintry to Kampala is a long journey, but one Jethwa’s character feels compelled to make, leaving behind the comparative security of family and friends in her search for the roots of her own past. The script is more complex and layered than this description may suggest, for part of its core lies in the assertion Amin made that he was ‘The Last King of Scotland’. As opposed to this whim of lèse-majesté, Jethwa’s character chooses her own identity, rooted in her own mixed heritage.
‘The Last Queen of Scotland’ is a brave and gallus attempt at distilling the Scots Asian experience, or at least some part of it, and well worth your time.
5 -26 August at 18.50