When, as a stranger to the Scots tongue, you first encounter Burns then you find a daunting and fairly impenetrable language. It takes more than a few readings to begin to appreciate the wonder of it all and to get your ear into the cadences of the braid Scots.
Booking a ticket therefore, for Tam O’Shanter, performed at the Edinburgh Festival, requires a mistaken belief that you have in fact grasped the language and will enjoy a truly Scottish performance of the great bard’s most famous poem. Ideally what you should do before the play begins, is to spend at least an hour in the company of a belligerent Glaswegian, just to get your ear in for what is about to happen.
For this is truly a glorious experience, you would’na wan ta miss it..
It is bawdy and boozy, irreverent and witty, and a great triumph for the fringe. The poem is performed as a narration with interruptions, the interruptions being other pieces from the works of Burns, songs, ditties, poems. There is, for example, an interruption as how it the relationship between Tam and his wife Kate should be interpreted with Scottish Social workers/counsellors and the kirk all offering marriage guidance advice. Burns would have loved it.
There is even what might be called a Karaoke night interruption that occurs in the famous Ayrshire tavern. Would the bard have written Karaoke songs? Sure he did, and here they are, wild and funny, poignant and emotional, the drink flowing as fast as the language and inhibitions falling into their cups.
If anything the Karaoke night interruption went on a little bit too long and probably detracted from the narration of the poem, but ya would’na ha missed it.
I cannot say that I understood every word. In fact large sections were incomprehensible and I will have to return again. Because they are worth it. All I need next time is an hour with a belligerent Glaswegian!
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