The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour
Witty duets guide you through the city's literary history
This entertaining mash-up of pub crawl and street theatre uses conflict to bring its subject alive, with great results. Hosted by two characters (one a bohemian who believes Edinburgh’s famous writers were formed from the city’s squalor, the other an academic who sees a more refined spirit as the true fire of the capital’s literature), the tour begins with the academic gazing out of the Beehive Inn window to evoke an 18th-century scene of a lauded Robert Burns entering the Grassmarket. Then the bohemian points further down the street to recall the hanging of shamed Deacon William Brodie, one of the inspirations for Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
The actors are first-rate, slipping easily between their dual roles as performers and guides, packing in great trivia, awful gags and plenty of banter. The choice of pubs is less inspired, with most feeling more like convenient stopping points for a drink than locations integral to the literary theme. Disjointed as it is, this tour offers a contagious enthusiasm for Edinburgh’s literary history that is immediate and inspiring.