JOYCE MCMILLAN on THE KING’S KILT at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 29.11.14.
3 stars ***
THE ORAN MOR PANTO may not open until next week; but there’s a definite mood of festive jollity about this playful little fantasy by leading Scottish playwright Rona Munro, in which an American academic called Walt Scott, visiting Edinburgh for the first time, finds himself slipping through a time-warp , and into a key moment in the life of his distant ancestor, Sir Walter Scott.
The King’s Kilt is a play of three characters, each with a double existence in the present day, and in the Edinburgh of 1822, on the eve of the historic visit of King George IV. There’s Walt or Sir Walter, desperately trying to commission a giant kilt for the corpulent monarch on the eve of the visit he has designed to affirm Scotland’s place in the Union, 77 years on from the Jacobite rebellion. There is Ailsa the gifted seamstress from Skye, reluctant to make any such kilt; and her present-day equivalent, an enterprising seller of tartan tat in the shadow of the Scott Monument. And there is Walt’s dragon landlady, Miss McEvoy, a descendant of the landlady who gave Walter Scott hell in the Canongate, before he graduated to more congenial premises.
Whether all this amounts to much more than a sustained familiar joke about the origins of modern Scottish tartanism is hard to say; the stereotypes are obvious, the mood light. Yet given the sheer charm and energy of Marilyn Imrie’s production, the question hardly seems to matter; and the show features three performances – from David Mara, Alison Peebles and the gorgeous Beth Marshall – so delightful that the audience has little option but to roll over, eat up its pies, and enjoy the fun.