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Theatre Review: A-Z of Dundee ***

Joy Watters reviews 'a bright, breezy' look at Dundee.

This year Dundee Rep Ensemble puts the spotlight on its native city for its community production. A bright, breezy run through the alphabet provides the framework for the show focussing on the less well-known stories the city holds. There is a body swerve for the letter J as the trio of industries traditionally associated with the City of Discovery make way for a host of other tales.

Conceived and written by brothers John and Gerry Kielty, the actors pick up their instruments and sing to carry the audience along on a musical magic carpet. From myths and ghosts, there’s the ties to Charles Dickens, pirate Captain Kidd, Mary Shelley and William Wallace, to name but a few.

Ensemble member Ewan Donald makes his directing debut with the show with its mainly humorous takes on the city’s history. The importance of women to the city’s strength is not neglected with an energetic boxing match illustrating Dundee’s ability to take on all-comers. Then there’s Mary Maloney, the Irish suffragette who rang a bell every time Winston Churchill tried to speak in the city.

The actor/musicians, Irene Macdougall, Emily Winter, Leanne Traynor, Barrie Hunter, Ross Allan and John Kielty, address matters historical, mythical, political and factual with brio. Dundee’s special language is not forgotten, such as a reference to roundabouts being called circles. `Well, they are, aren’t they?’ justifies a cast member.

A sequence of tape-recorded vox pops with the public about Dundee sits uneasily amongst the rest of the material. There are moments of poignancy in the action, such as Ross Allen’s delivery of part of McGonagall’s The Tay Bridge Disaster. Not a mockery of Dundee’s own bard but an unusually moving moment.

Run ended

Tags: theatre

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