King of Scotland (3 stars)

This article is from 2011

King of Scotland

Photography | John Johnston

Strong presentation of Iain Heggie’s second best monologue

It’s 11 years since the premiere of Iain Heggie’s free adaptation of Gogol’s satire Diary of a Madman. Jonathan Watson, star of TV football sketch show Only an Excuse?, follows Brian Pettifer and the late Gerard Kelly in tackling the role of Tommy McMillan, an unhinged Scottish bam who imagines that he is the monarch of Caledonia. Tommy’s verbal obscenities are surpassed only by his sexual vulgarity. Nevertheless, he is deemed eminently suitable for a job at the Department for Social Inclusion on account of his 28 consecutive years of unemployment.

The no-holds-barred ribaldry of Heggie’s brilliantly crafted, rapid-fire humour is distinctly non-Gogolian, but there is in the script both an underlying poignancy (in Tommy’s rapidly deteriorating mental health) and a righteous anger (at the cynicism of our political masters). Playing on a set which combines kitsch patriotism with urban dereliction, Watson gives a nuanced performance; even if he is occasionally too static to truly take flight in Heggie’s most absurd moments.

Ultimately, however, this is a strong presentation of Heggie’s second best monologue (after The Tobacco Merchant’s Lawyer).

Assembly Hall, 623 3030, until 28 Aug (not 22), 2pm, £12 (£9).

King of Scotland

  • 3 stars

Tommy McMillan believes that 28 consecutive years of unemployment is a great achievement, the work of a lifetime. Then he is finally forced on to a government training for work scheme. This turns out to be a chance to escape from the high flats, the mysterious Big Fat Jackie's bronchitis and the chronic mould. Featuring…