The Pitiless Storm @ The Assembly Rooms
Edinburgh Festivals 2014 has a recurring theme in the theatre this year, and no doubt it appears among comedy and spoken word as well: Scottish Independence. For come Thursday 18 September this year, Scotland’s people will decide whether Scotland should or should not become an independent country, potentially changing its political future. A topic that is worthy of much attention, Chris Dolan’s The Pitiless Storm, starring David Hayman as beloved Labour politician Bob Cunningham, is the most diplomatically humorous play at this year's festival that is in favour of the ‘Yes’ vote.
The play begins as Cunningham takes to the podium on the red-carpeted stage to practice his acceptance speech: he has been honoured by her Majesty the Queen in receiving an OBE for his lifetime’s work as a left-wing trade unionist. As he opens with the remark that Scotland would be ‘Better Together’, he breaks his speech, diverging from his script and choosing instead to reminisce on the young political idealist he used to be when he was seventeen. The audience watches as he begins a form of a bipolar dialogue between him and his younger self, morally questioning his personal beliefs on the Scottish Referendum against Labour’s party line.
Some of the other pro-Independence plays in this year's Fringe hammer their propaganda too far for the show to be enjoyed for its own merit. Dolan’s script contains none of this nonsense: the dialogue, beautifully recited by Hayman, even earns laughs from the members of the audience who hold different political views, simply down to its pure wit.