Review: Burns for Brunch ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Theatre

Burns for Brunch

Scottish Storytelling Centre, v30

11:30 (ends 26 August, not 12, 14, 19, 21)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5 stars)

Rabbie Burns is asleep under a blanket on the floor, surrounded by empty bottles and cans – an eclectic mix of alcohol has been consumed here… The silence is broken by a heartfelt groan, and Burns emerges from under the blanket to discover a pair of black lacy panties snuggling in his ear: he bellows for Jean, but she doesn’t appear. Next, he finds a pair of trendy grey boxers – what’s been going on here? He staggers to his feet, searches for an empty bottle in which to relieve himself – and only then realises that he has an audience: oh god, are youse the people last night who I invited to my lodgings for brunch…??

There then followed one of the most enjoyable hours of my life. Rabbie is our irreverent, bold, satirical, saucy, witty and endlessly entertaining host – any dinner party at which he was present would have been a riot as he mixes song, political comment contemporary both to him and to us, snatches of history, quotes his own and other poets’ works, and keeps us all in fits of laughter. We are most reluctant to see him go – but go he must, to keep an important appointment which I’m not going to reveal to you, but which was itself the cause of much wit and humour.

After a couple of sell-out years inviting us to an audience with Burns in the Edinburgh of his time, Gavin Paul is back at the Storytelling Centre as Rabbie Burns bursting rambunctiously into the twenty-first century, which gives him almost unlimited scope for wry political comment, telling satire on the arts in Scotland, and homage to great names in entertainment of the last hundred years. The institutions and characters of his own time aren’t spared either: and it’s this mix of ‘ancient and modern’ that helps to make the show such a delight.

Raymond Ross’s script is a tour de force of invention mixed with Burns’ own words. Gavin Paul’s vital, electric, magnetic personality, his ability to switch language and accents in a trice, and obvious enjoyment of his powers of entertainment, make this a riveting show not to be missed – oh, and he’s pretty hot, too, making it very clear how Burns managed to have so many children in such a short time…

If you know Burns’ work, you’ll love this show: if you don’t, come and find out the real man, not the Sainted Bard of so many dreary Burns Suppers [and have a good laugh about these, too]. I can’t praise Burns for Brunch highly enough – I’d cheerfully go and see it again tomorrow: and that’s not just to have a wee dram with the Bard, but to spend an hour in the company of one of the most fascinating people it’s ever been my privilege to meet.

Mary Woodward