Tuesday, 9 October 2018

It Wisnae Me (A Play, a Pie and a Pint), Traverse

A forensic examination of Scotland's complicity in the history of African slavery doesn't sound the most promising subject for an entertaining hour at lunchtime, but Alan Bissett's script pulls it off brilliantly.  From a Space Odyssey pastiche, through suspect interrogation to a powerful closing statement and plea to remember our real past, it's funny, informative, thought provoking and conscience-tugging.  Three excellent performances too.

Scotland (Ali Watt) is on trial, with England (Andrew John Tait) - as ever - acting as prosecution.  Between them they sketch out, through stereotypes, historical fact, expert witness statements (both contemporary and historical) the creation of the country, the rivalry with our southern neighbour, and the shenanigans and bullying that led to the union.  And how our involvement in slavery went hand in hand with the rest of the European colonialist nations.

This is achieved through a fast paced series of scenes that mix monologue, dialogue, mime and slapstick, but, as so often with our histories, all told through the voices of white men.  Cue "Black Girl" (Danielle Jam) to provide a more meaningful and legitimate view of that past, and for any claim Scotland makes to suffering to be far outweighed by the suffering it inflicted on others.

For a fifty minute play there are an impressive array of issues raised, not least the need for Scotland to take a good look at itself and decide where it needs to go in the future.  But,fittingly, the closing words are given to Jam, the representation for the society we need to be.

Highly recommended.

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