It’s Burns, Jamie, but not as we know him

Jan 17 2013 | By More

Burns: Rough Cut returns to Storytelling Centre

Gavin Paul as Robert Burns in Burns: Rough Cut. Photo: company publicity

Gavin Paul as Robert Burns in Burns: Rough Cut. Photo: company publicity

By Thom Dibdin

Popping up at the Scottish Storytelling Centre for one night only on Friday, as the opening event of BurnsFest 2013, is Donald Smith’s somewhat controversial take on Scotland’s bard.

Based on Smith’s novel Between Ourselves
the play focuses on the pivotal crisis of Burns life and career – his stay in Edinburgh. Recreating his lost (or unwritten) diaries, it looks at Edinburgh high and low through Burns’ eyes.

“This show picks up on the real man – and not the shortbread tin view that we are so often presented with,” says Gavin Paul, who is reprising the role he first created for the fringe in 2010.

“What it tries to do is delve into why he wrote what he wrote – what drove him to do it. Hopefully Rough Cut can give a slight insight to that and help to discover his point of view – don’t forget this was a time when having a point of view was a danger in itself.”

Fans of the Brunton panto will no doubt recognise Paul from a rather different guise – he played the heroic role of Jamie in this Christmas season’s smash hit Puss in Boots.

So does his previous role as the aloof-but-handsome love-interest – who falls in full sloppy love with the seemingly out-of-reach Princess Fiona – carry shades of Rabbie and his Clarinda? Perhaps not – although this version of the poet is certainly a lot more earthy than is often depicted. But as Paul told the Annals, there is plenty for a modern performer to find in common with Burns.

Dates at Dumfries’ Big Burns Supper

Buy the novel:
Between Ourselves

“He didn’t know what was going to happen after his time in Edinburgh. He had been living the high life – but the money was running out from his tours and he had to think to the future. That is something which, as an actor, I know all too well. Which is where I find it so interesting to play him – imagine the most famous man in Scotland having to take on a civil service job to make ends meet. I can identify that – and so can many others.”

Having opened BurnsFest 2013 for the Storytelling Centre, Paul is off down to Dumfries the following weekend for a pair of dates at the Big Burns Supper. So does he miss the glamour of a season of pantomime at the Brunton?

“I miss the banter more than anything,” he says. “I knew it was going to be tough, going from such a fun show with a large cast and crew back to my one (lonely) man show. But not this tough!

“Everybody got on so well over Christmas and it was sad to leave. It’s exciting to be reworking something I have done many times before – but at the same time it is up to me to motivate myself to work on an empty stage.”

Burns: Rough Cut:
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Friday 18 Jan 2013, 7.30pm. Tickets:
Big Burns Supper, Spiegeltent, Dumfries, Saturday 26- Sunday 27 Jan 2013, 12.30pm. Tickets:


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