Election night entertainment - Unholyrood, Welcome to the Hotel Caledonia and Mayfesto: It's a Dead Liberty!
Perhaps injustices tend to hit harder when they’re closer to home; perhaps there’s just more meat; but periods of Tory government do tend to galvanize our satirists and create new relevance for political theatre. You may have noticed stirrings roundabout the election last year, from Andy Arnold reviving Mayfest as Mayfesto at the Tron, to David Greig’s hilarious one-off Gordon Brown: A Life in Politics on election night, but this year, as the realities of the cuts take hold, Scottish satire has got its teeth back, and they’re sharp. Come election time, a number of very well known Scottish faces will be lining up to prove it.
At the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh, journalist Peter Geoghegan will be hosting Unholyrood – a mix of comedy, debate, music and political cabaret, featuring comedians Vladimir McTavish, and Susan Morrison, poet and rabble-rouser Tom Leonard and a live act going by the excellent name of The Sensational Alex Salmond Band, amongst others.
‘If there’s a “big idea” at all behind Unholyrood – besides having a good time – it’s about opening up a public space for debate and discussion about politics in Scotland that doesn’t get tied up in party political knots,’ says Geoghegan, who came up with the idea after witnessing reactions to Gordon Brown: A Life in Politics and to Dublin’s long-running political cabaret night Leviathan. ‘That heady mix of comedy and politics felt like such a breath of fresh air. We’ve a long tradition of political satire in this country but we haven’t really tapped into it recently, until now.’
An integral part of that ‘long tradition’ are Wildcat and 7:84, the theatre companies who gave voice to Scotland’s reactions to the worst excesses of Thatcher. Stalwarts of both companies will be back onstage at the Tron over the election period to reintroduce their work to a new generation in Mayfesto: It’s a Dead Liberty!, with sketches and songs from guests and writers including Alasdair Gray, Barbara Rafferty, Alan Bissett and Peter Arnott. The latter two names are also involved in David Greig’s multi-writer follow up to A Life in Politics, sketch show Welcome to the Hotel Caledonia, which will happen at the Traverse on election night, after which everyone decamps to the bar to see the results roll in. It might just be possible to make a difference. Or at the very least, laugh about it.
Unholyrood, Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, Wed 4 May, 8pm, £5 (£4). Welcome to The Hotel Caledonia, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 5 May, 1pm & 10pm, £6. Mayfesto: It’s A Dead Liberty!, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 4–Sat 7 May, 9.30pm, £10.