Tam O'Shanter @ Assembly Hall
The acclaimed company Communicado is back at full throttle: reminiscent of the legendary 7:84 company, many of the cast can sing, dance and play a tune on traditional instruments too. The sheer energy of the cast is amazing. They excel at ensemble pieces - one of the most hilarious placing orders at a bar after Market Day, most of the songs inspired by cutty sarks (petticoats) or quaffin' - Burn's two chief interests.
Many of the songs and the material are Burns' own. There are also many splendid solos, the most memorable by Gerda Stevenson. Tom Freeman sings a great set-piece as the Soutar, Tam's partner in drink, but on the whole, the female actors outshine the men: Joyce Falconer, a well-kent face from STV's Taggart and River City is a terrifying termagant as Tam's wife, Courtnay Collins is a saucy minx of a whore and performs a stunning dance as a witch later, and Pauline Knowles' lugubrious Horse is a delight. There's magical shadow puppetry to evoke the atmosphere of Hallowe'en and an uproarious climax with the witches' coven in Kirk Alloway and their chase through the woods after Tam on horseback uses video projection to great effect.