A Very Scottish Autopsy
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Dr Jeyll dissects the nation's heart, mind and stomach to disover what makes a true Scot.
Scottish stand-up Ian Watt's third solo Fringe show (in the theatre section of the programme) is a comic investigation into what it takes to make a true Scot and why he claims failure has become a national trait. The Scots, his argument goes, lack belief in their own ability.
In the energetically played guise of an semi-mad professor, he discovers the cause is a rogue gene specific to Scots. Exactly what the gene does or its effect isn't quite clearly enough spelled out, but he gets by.
"We're shite and we know it," is a recurring and perhaps rather unfair theme and one which risks alienating the Scottish audience which the show is liable to attract, given the topic is unlikely to grab non-Scots by the throats.
So Ian has a marketing problem here. And a script problem. It is a very entertaining show, brilliantly acted, which gets a string of laughs from the audience. But the script is simply a series of comic examples illustrating a single point. It does not progress, it reiterates. However, as if to compensate for this, there is a rather good plot twist in the middle.
Ian's plays have previously been worth a look for comedy connoisseurs. His first, John Laurie, Frazer & I, was a surprising insight into and superb impersonation of the Dad's Army star. Last year's Legend Of The BBC was a fascinating amalgamation within a whodunnit of true comic industry stories and elements of real comedians Malcolm Hardee and Charlie Chuck.
This year's Very Scottish Autopsy is less direct in its comedy heritage, but it does offer a bizarre mix of mad scientist, music hall performance and good acting.