The World According to Bertie dramatises Alexander McCall Smith novel

This article is from 2011.

The World According to Bertie dramatises Alexander McCall Smith novel

Scotland Street novels take to the stage in their home city of Edinburgh

In case you need to be reminded of the Edinburgh that exists beyond the frenzy of the festivals, Andy Jordan Productions is bringing the fourth in Alexander McCall Smith’s Scotland Street novels to the stage with a faithful adaptation, recreating the city through the eyes of the much put-upon New Town six-year-old, Bertie.

Fifteen characters, including Bertie’s neurotic, pretentious mother Irene, animate a world of enforced yoga classes, conversational Italian, and now the exasperating problem of a baby brother, endured by a boy who would rather just be doing normal childish things.

‘There’s so much humour and so much eccentricity and whimsy about it,’ says director Warren Hooper. ‘The logic of six-year-old children is always a joy to behold. Everything is black and white – they can’t understand any shade of grey.’

An intimate experience for only 50 audience members at a time, the action of the play happens in the round, with Bertie’s bedroom keeping its sanctuary at the centre, the audience enclosing it, and the rest of the scenes happening around them. Locals and lovers of the books will be delighted to see familiar haunts recreated onstage, but the humanity of McCall Smith’s writing promises that this production will be accessible to all.

‘Mother, father, kid relationships are the same everywhere – we’re all human beings struggling with our frailty, our needs and our desperations, so it’s no different, it’s just got a huge Edinburgh flavour,’ explains Hooper.

The popularity of the original novel looks to ensure a popular reception for this production. Indeed, as Hooper reflects, ‘I wouldn’t even by surprised if it will end up being a whole series, one every year.’ Will Bertie be the next Harry Potter? We can only watch this space.

C Soco, 0845 260 1234, 4–29 Aug (not 15), 7.20pm, 9pm, £10.50–£12.50 (£6.50–£9.50).

The World According to Bertie

  • 3 stars

Whether you already love Alexander McCall Smith's fascinating stories or are meeting them for the first time, this first stage adaptation from the popular 44 Scotland Street series promises a lively evening in the company of young Bertie, his perfectionist mum Irene, insufferably handsome Bruce, raffish painter Angus and…

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