The Moira Monologues, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

Alan Bissett is one of the leading lights of a vibrant, young Scottish literary scene with three novels – Boyracers, The Incredible Adam Spark and Death of a Ladies’ Man under his belt. He’s also, it turns out, a pretty fine performer.

For this, his “one-woman show”, he adopts the persona of Moira Bell - char-lady, sofa raconteur and “Falkirk’s hardest woman”. It’s essentially a series of very funny doorstep vignettes, rattled off by Bissett in a thick Scots accent with whipcrack timing. There are tales of dog fights, disappointing football matches (“they only needed one goal… to bring the score to 3-1”) and unsuccessful dates fuelled by a queasy cocktail of peach Schnapps and Kestrel.

Bissett writes with eagle-eyed vim – “works in Somerfield, looks like a stoat” runs one typical pen portrait – and not a word is wasted. His Moira lurches from a foul-mouthed Rottweiler who could give Malcolm Tucker a run for his money to maudlin softie in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette. It’s a - sometimes scary - pleasure to spend an evening in her company.