The Last Queen of Scotland ****

Theatre

Underbelly, Cowgate

Venue 61

18.50 (run ends 26th Aug)

 

Jaimini Jethwar’s play is based on her personal experience of being expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972 along with some 60,000 Asians who were not Ugandan citizens.  Her parents accepted the offer of resettlement in Dundee, and Jaimini grew up a fluent Dundonian who happened to look Indian.  This Stellar Quines production is not an autobiography, but a drama based on Jaimini’s experience, which investigates ideas of forced emigration, dictatorship, and identity.  The central character, whose name I never discovered, wonders why she feels so unsafe in Dundee, despite all her efforts to fit in.   She decides to investigate her obsession with Amin by going to Uganda and the West Malling detention centre in Kent where her family were first settled, and see whether she can lay the ghost that persecutes her.

 

This show was brilliantly conceived and executed, and received lengthy and enthusiastic applause.  I personally found it hard to identify with the heroine, an impressively hyperactive performance by Rehanna MacDonald: her accent and slang were at times beyond me, though I got the gist of what was being said – the action and dialogue were delivered at a pace akin to some of the more recent Doctor Whos’ charging around shouting lengthy, complicated, and largely incomprehensible explanations while endeavouring to escape extreme peril.  I’m getting old…

 

That apart, it was a lively, thought-provoking show, excellently performed, with a simple set and the minimum of props.  MacDonald’s performance was jaw-droppingly assured, her command of the dialect and her seemingly limitless energy worthy of respect.

 

Mary Woodward