Mark Steel: Who Do I Think I Am?
The story of a life with a little bit of politics
This article is from 2015.
The left-wing, anti-Tory, pro-Corbyn Mark Steel promises that his show is not about politics before launching into rabble-rousing invective about the current government. This is followed by a critique of 70s and 80s politics littered with references that would be unfamiliar to most of those under 40. Next up is a contrarily specific bit about south London that only a small percentage of the Edinburgh audience understands. The reason for this material eventually become clear as Who Do I Think I Am? concerns Steel’s quest to find the birth parents who gave him up for adoption in 1960 and the impact of resultant revelations on his self-identity.
Steel is a professional. His delivery is assured, his political rants calculated to inspire camaraderie with an arts festival crowd. The story is well-constructed, with the seemingly confusing preoccupation with 1970s capitalists and south London locations making sense in the end.
The events of his life were even kind enough to partially take place in Dunkeld so that Steel can throw in some Scottish references. Gifted with a genuinely interesting life story, he succeeds in conveying the fascinating way that truth can be stranger than fiction but a lack of emotional vulnerability makes it difficult to relate.
Assembly George Square Studios, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 17), 8.15pm, £13–£14 (£12–£13).