Edinburgh Fringe 2016
One storyteller, two musicians onstage and a couple of pairs of hands take us through the politics of the 16th century as we learn o twa Kings and yin awkward problem. The problem of England and France and Papal excommunication thanks to the Treaty of Perpetual peace. This is a romp and ribald run through a period of uncertainty and unhappiness in Scotland that ended with tragedy of unrivalled death on a sodden field called Flodden.
Testimony to their storytelling abilities – I can remember all that without looking. This is a great introduction to the story of a time of intrigue, battle and tragic consequences. As a story teller, John Nichol is an assured hand. Switching from each character with ease this is a polished and honed performance that clearly comes after many outings. Alongside Nichol, he is ably accompanied by Hilary Bell and Carly Bain onstage. There is a lot to get through and much to confuse but the battle over detail works well as we ride along and get the gist of it all.
The script was, for me, slightly leaden with a lot of it laid on thick but this was a minor gripe in amongst the amount of fun that was being had leading to the massacre. The accompanied music made the whole thing motor and the pace was judged well. There were a few missteps along the way which appeared carefully choreographed but we had a lot to get through in such a short space of time and if they weren’t they were handled well.
The pitch was clearly an adult one and apart from having it performed as a part of the celebrations of the battle as it was in 2013 and here at the Fringe it is hard to see where it would sit on tour. Certainly not a children’s piece and as for an adult piece I can hardly see many coming out on a Friday night to pay a tenner for it but the Fringe is encouraging to offers such as this and all the better for it.
It also helped having offstage voices and accompaniment as well as the four hands that appeared – 2 at either side of the stage – with white gloves. It was a nice addition to the theatricality of it all.
I enjoyed my history lesson and now want to know more. As a performance piece it is therefore hitting the right notes and making us sit up and ask questions. As an expose of the politics of the time it is a start and a pretty decent one at that.