Suffering from Scottishness (3 stars)

This article is from 2019

Suffering from Scottishness

credit: Jassy Earl

Ironic take on national identity

When Trainspotting's Mark Renton iconically proclaimed 'It's shite being Scottish!', it turns out that Kevin P. Gilday 'felt that' – because this sentiment is at the crux of Suffering from Scottishness, his one-man show which aims to expose the absurdity of nationalism.

Spoofing a tourist think-tank called Citizen Scotland, a government agency in its most hellish of forms, Gilday takes on the persona of Joe who invites the audience to take part in a focus group that will choose a new Scottish citizenship test.

With cards marked either 'aye' or 'naw', Joe takes the audience through potential questions, explained through poetic sequences, video, and thoughtful soliloquies. For example, he asks whether folks should understand the Scottish language before they can be citizens, but he doesn't mean English or a dialect. He means the type exemplified by Scottish Twitter. With other questions looking at Scottish inventions or the independence referendum, they are all framed as gaudy caricatures of Scottish identity that show the ridiculousness of patriotism.

The strength of the show lies in the spoken word vignettes that poetically illustrate the struggle of getting to grips with Scotland's identity problem. However, there's a lot of black and white thinking going on here and ultimately this distinct lack of nuance makes it feel pretty bleak. While aiming to parody blind, flag-waving nationalism, it fails to provide any answers and melodramatic moments overpower the overall goal.

Assembly Roxy, until 26 Aug (not 13), 5.10pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11).

Suffering from Scottishness

  • 3 stars

Spoken word artist Kevin P Gilday's immersive theatre work about Scottish identity and the inherent absurdity of nationhood and patriotism.