Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Fri 25 Jan–Sat 2 Feb, then touring
Of the many sensations that surround the life of Robert Burns, one of the most notable was his close friendship with Agnes McLehose in Edinburgh. Although the relationship only became as physical as Burns’ impregnation of her maid, their passionate correspondence, as well as his dedication of ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ to her, survives to add to his legend. Yet, are we too fond of Burns to recognise that his laddishness at times caused a good deal of pain to these two and many other women in his life?
Mike Gibb thinks so. His musical version of this part of Burns’ life looks to redress a certain imbalance. ‘We’re trying to do it from a woman’s point of view. He was a bit of a rascal to put it mildly. We’re trying to get a different perspective on him than just Robert Burns, raffish man about town,’ says the director/musician. Gibb is also conscious of the possibility of sentiment clouding the issues from a nationalist perspective. ‘I didn’t want it to be too self consciously Scottish in that kind of Andy Stewart sense, so the music is used as part of the action, sometimes mixed with the dialogue, which is quite modern.’ This looks like a pleasing reality check for Burns’ Night.