Spoiling, Traverse Theatre, review: Diverting but ultimately unpersuasive

Edinburgh Festival 2014: The premise - that Scotland is leaving the union but the UK is refusing to let it go - is punchy but the play is slight

It's the dawn of the newly independent Scotland and the nation's Foreign Minister designate - heavily pregnant, oh irony, with an Englishman's baby - is preparing to deliver her first speech since the Yes voters prevailed.

There is just one problem - she is refusing to speak the words she has been given. They're “insipid, vacuous, a travesty”. The speech is vanilla when she wants to give the Scottish people roaring maxims they can print on their tea-towels. For their part, the party is concerned that Fiona, an electric vote-winner during the referendum, might now go off-message.

Tasked with reining Fiona in is Mark Henderson, a smooth aide from Belfast who uses words like “dispositive” and whose credentials seem a little off, despite the thistle in his buttonhole.

It looks as though we're in for some bracing David Mamet-style powerplay. And while John McCann's play has some pleasing to and fro, there is no contest really between the fiery, fruity rhetoric of Fiona (majestic Gabriel Quigley) and Mark's jobsworth patter. 

As directed by Orla O'Loughlin, artistic director at the Traverse, there are a couple of neat visual flourishes but it never finds its groove either as satire or full-throated cry for independence.

The premise - that Scotland is leaving the union but the UK is refusing to let it go - is punchy but the play is slight. Avenues of intrigue open up - where did dream politician Fiona spring from? Who is the real father of her child? - but never driven down. Diverting but ultimately unpersuasive.

To 24 August (0131 228 1404)

Comments