A Man's a Man

Following the overwhelming success of this performance last year, it’s back – and this time with a full cast of professional actors. Having been blown away by the production last year, I was intrigued and excited about the involvement of Fair Pley, and I wasn’t disappointed. Everything about this production is exceptional – the compelling script, the emotive folk music, the delightful casting and the striking costumes. This hearty consideration of Scotland’s most famous poet introduces us to the man behind the words – the anti-establishment hero who truly believed he could change the world.

This exploration of the life and loves of Burns will leave you feeling enriched, entertained and emotional.

The atmosphere is crafted with exquisitely haunting folk music beckoning the actors on stage, each entering from the back of the room to create a fully immersive experience. This feature ensured that the audience felt less like voyeurs, and more like an extension of what was happening on stage. From our seats, we adopt the persona of merry beer drinker as Burns conveys the power of words – that they can persuade anyone of anything, because "people must know what they value before they can fight for it." We are flower sellers, watching as Burns merrily chides the haggis seller on how to market our national dish, an animated anthem to the Address to a Haggis ensuing. And we are bar tenders, listening as Burns enthuses our terrified patrons with the beautifully eerie Tam O’Shanter. Liz Carruthers’ direction of this performance is phenomenal and elevates what was an already great piece to another level entirely. Within a few moments of it starting, the hairs raise on the back of our necks and stay there for the duration of the performance as we become engulfed in the story. Our emotions tentatively travel the turbulent tale of Caledonia’s Bard, as we experience every one of his highs and lows with him. This is the mark of a great performance.

The depth of talent in each of the actors involved is outstanding – the meticulous casting draws each character to life as they abound with flair and personality. There’s a real feeling that we’re in the presence of greatness, as they present an utter believability that we have indeed been propelled back in time to the 1700’s. And despite the raw portrayal of the deeply flawed elements of Burns’ personality, Ewan Petrie presents him with such heartfelt emotion that we can’t help but wish for him to succeed. His spirited interpretation of Tam O’Shanter is extraordinary, and garners a well deserved cheer from the audience when it ends. There is no weak link in this casting and the rich depth of vocals, accompanying Franssen and Grant’s originally written songs, are the best I’ve heard this Fringe. Possibly the best I’ve heard in many years. The female actors feature highly, and it's important that they are given solo stage time – the symbolism thick as they despair about the lack of voice women had at that time in history. The scene where Burns’ brother rescues him from his downward descent into a world of excess is very powerful, that liminal moment of change as he declares that "your legacy can’t be this." And, turns out it isn’t.

This exploration of the life and loves of Burns will leave you feeling enriched, entertained and emotional. There’s a tangible sense in the audience of having experienced something incredible, and as I sat outside the theatre, I heard a lady humming the tune of An Aw’ That. The Freemasons Hall is the perfect location for this piece – it’s intimate, indulgent and beautiful with its wooden surfaces and close stage. This performance should not be missed – and I hope to see it continue to be developed as it doesn’t deserve to end here.

Reviews by Jodie McVicar

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Mandy Muden: Is Not the Invisible Woman

★★★★
Army @ The Fringe in Association with Summerhall

Dead Equal

★★★★
The Fawlty Towers Dining Room at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton Hotel

Fawlty Towers Live Themed Dinner Show

★★★★★
Greenside @ Nicolson Square

Within

★★★★
Assembly Roxy

Pops

★★★★
National Museum of Scotland

Museum Late: Fringe Fridays

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A refreshing take on the life story of Scotland’s greatest poet Robert Burns. A captivating, full-length musical play with an original score, created by Martin Franssen and Rod Grant, portrays Burns in all his colourful and contradictory glory. Burns’ autobiographical works are placed in new musical settings and follow the poet from humble beginnings in Ayrshire to his tragic early death in Dumfries, via the stardom, adulation and bright lights of Edinburgh. A truly moving 90 minutes which will leave you emotionally wrought, entertained, educated and enchanted; the whole performance oozes brilliance. Director: Liz Carruthers.

Most Popular See More

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Hairspray

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets