Highland Fling

Never for a moment did I think spending an evening with friends at Mathew Bourne’s Highland Fling would provoke so much conversation. So much so thatany thought of an interval wine was abandoned in favour of discussion.Extraordinary.It wasn’t that we weren’t enjoying the show -in fact the dancingand the music were both exquisite and when the ghoulish Gothic fairies were on stage I was mesmerised – however one of my friends was really quite aghast by the level of Scottish stereotyping on display in the opening scenes.Set in Glasgow it was a bit as if Trainspotting had crashed into Brigadoon.Tartan wallpaper was adorned with framed “photies” of the Krankies, SuBo and worse.

Old Firm scarves and rosettes ensured a yawn-enducing balance on stage and in the audience.There was Irn Bru, the Daily Record and even a man wearing a kilt with a biker jacket.There was another in a full tartan trouser suit.But perhaps what caused the most outrage in my friend was that the opening scene – where a young man buys and takes drugs in a Sauchiehall Street toilet – passed without even a mutter from the audience.Nobody else seemed particularly bothered by the fact that once again Glasgow was being portrayed as No Mean City.”That’s not my Glasgow!” She cried as everyone else scurried to the bar.”There’s far more to Glasgow than taking drugs in nightclub toilets. I am fed up of it always being portrayed in such a prescriptive way.” And while I was perhaps not as outraged – having been quite happily engrossed in the awkward grace of the faintly sinister otherworldly being that, ala the Absinthe fairy, seemed to appear when the protagonist popped whatever it was he was popping – I have to say I couldn’t help agreeing. Did we really need Irn Bru, tartan wallpaper and a picture of the Krankies to know we were in Scotland?

And did our protagonist have to follow type by buying drugs in a club?A silhouette of the Finneston Crane in the view from the “flat” window would have set the scene nicely.He could have been wearing jeans and a T-shirt and we would still have known he was Scottish (not that I have anything against a man in a kilt) and perhaps rather than a drug-enduced fantasy (or not as the case maybe?We the audience were obviously meant to be left guessing) our protagonist could have started seeing fairies after having slipped into a natural trance brought on by excess of yoga, mung beans and chanting OM.Ok maybe not.I have a feeling I have taken that just a little too far.

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