The Laird’s Big Breaxit

Aug 7 2018 | By More

★★★☆☆      Scattergun satire

Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue30): Thurs 2 –Mon 27 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

Nasty truths lie behind the cartoonish nature of The Laird’s Big Breaxit in the Library at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

In the Donald Smith-scripted one-hander from the Netherbow Actors Company, Christopher Craig plays Gussie McCraig of Craigievar. He wants to rebrand the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party by taking it back to the days when tartan-trewed landowners believed they could squeeze in a bit of running the country in between swigging whisky and killing small animals.

Christopher Craig in The Laird's Big Breaxit Actors Company Scottish Storytelling Centre EdFringe 2018 Pic Douglas Robertson Photography

Christopher Craig Pic Douglas Robertson Photography

Gussie is a monstrous creation, spotting Brexit as a chance to remove all regulation, abolish the Holyrood parliament and pump cattle full of steroids.

There is something very believable about all of this, with the looming exit from the EU undoubtedly representing a gleaming financial opportunity in the eyes of the more deranged Brexiteers, with the enticing possibility of a race to the bottom and the devil take the hindmost. The more ludicrous positions adopted by Gussie, safe in the knowledge he is among ‘freens’, are only just over the border between reality and satire.

There are also moments of ingenious construction, where his background peeps through and it is almost – but not quite – possible to feel sorry for him.

The way that certain politicians (many of them considerably more floppy-haired than Gussie, if equally Etonian) cultivate an image of the bumbling but affably eccentric patrician, in order to disguise the extreme nature of their views, is cleverly signposted. Furthermore, politicians of all sides’ desire to co-opt Scottish culture and history, particularly half-remembered distortions of it, is slyly evoked.

disconcerting tendency

Equally, there are weaker moments. An hour is too long to spend in the company of such a creation, and despite Craig’s very capable performance – all tics and bluster, with moments of self-revelation instantly self-medicated with another ‘snifter’ – it starts to flag.

There is a disconcerting tendency at present, with politics apparently dominated by echo chambers and confirmation bias, to present anyone who disagrees with your view as fundamentally wrong and basically stupid – and while Gussie may work in short bursts, over an hour it becomes pointless.

The moments of offensive language against minorities which make this a 16-plus show may well be part of the character but are still jarring and overused.

Satire is in a very difficult place at the moment, with many in power seemingly well beyond lampooning, and a corrosive cynicism likely to make many simply shrug their shoulders and turn away. So credit to this production for facing up to something many would rather ignore, even if its energy and anger do not necessarily lead to a convincing whole.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30), 43-45 High St, EH1 1SR
Thursday 2 – Monday 27 August 2018
Daily (not Mon 13, Mon 20) at 5.00 pm.
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Storytelling Centre website:
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Twitter: @ScotStoryCentre.


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Comments (1)

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  1. Z A Chaikin Linekar says:

    This was a brilliant script presented and acted very capably. It was paced and timed well. It delivered a superb paradox.

    We felt it was an hour very well spent.

    (Cutting an unintended tightly knotted shoelace and renewing it, was really going to be the only efficient way of dealing with it. An apt metaphor)