Theatre review: Pirates And Mermaids
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Pirates And Mermaids at Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30A), reviewed by Joyce McMillan
In the garden at the back of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, a handsome young man dressed in a smart kilt and jacket is opening his heart to a tiny audience of six other souls, gathered around him on a bench. The scene is supposed to be Central Park in New York; and in this new show by Poorboy Productions, Cameron – played with terrific charm by Jeremiah Reynolds – is telling us the story of his love for a Scottish girl called Eilidh, his childhood sweetheart, who wants to stay in Scotland, while he needs to be in New York.
This is Pirates And Mermaids, the latest show by Scotland’s award-winning Poorboy company; and over a slightly over-long 90 minutes Cameron leads us through all the twists and turns of the long-distance relationship, to an ending so inconclusive that the audience is invited to sign up for e-mail updates, so that we can catch the next instalment. In terms of its apparatus, style and approach, it is a show to remember.
Sadly, though, its content and story are fatally weak, from the original premise that Scots are temperamentally either “pirates” or “mermaids” – really? – to its dodgy essentialist presumption that Eilidh is feisty, direct and outgoing because she is, well, Scottish.
Americans in Central Park and tourists visiting Edinburgh, may lap up this kind of stuff, which casts Scotland as a quaint little nation of lovable types. For myself, though, I think it has nothing to do with the future of Scotland, or of serious theatre made in Scotland; and Jeremiah Reynolds’s charm can’t redeem one of the weakest shows ever presented by a company which can usually be relied on to dig deep into the texture of life, and to come up with something much richer and stranger than this.
Originally published in The Scotsman