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Edinburgh Fringe 2016

The Tobacco Merchant’s Lawyer

Andy Paterson

Genre: Comedic, Drama, Short Plays, Theatre

Venue: New Town Theatre


Low Down

Andy Paterson is an engaging narrator as he takes us through the problems and issues of underground nationalist sympathiser, Enoch Dalmellington. He has a daughter who needs disposal; Euphemia, a landlord and creditor needing assuaged; and a life that needs companionship. By the end we are well versed in the dealings of his survival whilst his solutions are a reorganising of those around him in a way that not even he would have guessed at the beginning.


Enoch Dalmellington is alone and worried. His daughter, who he feels it is his duty to marry off, is seeing yet another suitor. It is another suitor that Dalmellington is sure she shall refuse. George Buccleuch starts the drama as the man most likely but ends it elsewhere as the cast of offstage characters, from Widow McKay – who does not remain a widow, Mistress Zapata – who does not remain a mystery to Dalmellington and McCorquindale – who does not remain his landlord – are introduced and given seeds that are sown for us to pluck later.

Paterson is an engaging presence and with his narrative skill we are given a comic turn that is assured and relaxed. This has clearly benefitted from having some time for Paterson to become comfortable and the giggles he managed to create are testimony to his skill as a satirical actor. There are few guffaws in here but the scant regard with which he talks of the prophesies of Mistress Zapata are hilarious.

The set is functional but has enough of the 18th century to be convincing whilst the episodic structure of the piece gathers it strength around the actor.

This is a very good rendering of a very good play that tells us much of our Scottish heritage in a way that is both entertaining and educational without ever lecturing. Ian Heggie’s skills are at full tilt and with Paterson displaying his own comic prowess alongside you get a more than decent production.

Lighting and sound were unobtrusive and worked well so overall – all good.

This was a Scottish play does deserve wider acknowledgement and at times we get glimpses of the richness of Scottish drama. Whilst Heggie was performing his own work elsewhere it was refreshing to see some of his other work being given a well deserved airing.