This topical drama casts Scotland and England in the roles of bickering husband and wife, mediated by a third party functioning as both marriage therapist and collective child of Britain. While the analogy of the union as a marriage on the rocks is far from an original one, the dialogue is sparky and fast-paced with touches of sly wit. I loved the idea of Caledonia using his Norwegian friend Sven as an emotional crutch in anticipation of his divorce. On the other hand, Britannia’s appreciation of Caledonia for his whisky and shortbread is symbolically weak – a little more creativity wouldn’t go amiss here.
The show seems unsure whether it wants to be deft, if talky, referendum satire, or a pantomime with all the sophistication of shortbread dunked in a mug of tea.
Neither marital party comes off well in the piece. Husband Caledonia is a potty mouthed, tartan clad, booze-guzzling waster devoted only to his pub, his chips and the football. Wee wifey Britannia is an iron faced matriarch with a bust like the prow of a Tory blue warship, her voice ringing with perfectly enunciated condescension. The sympathetic, naturalistically portrayed therapist jars against the bombastic exuberance of the couple. The result is laughably unsubtle, the couple reduced to the most unflattering of national stereotypes; a more nuanced approach to both characters would better suit the ultimately earnest intentions of the play.
The show seems unsure whether it wants to be deft, if talky, referendum satire, or a pantomime with all the sophistication of shortbread dunked in a mug of tea. The premise and script have some promise, so it’s a shame that the result is one of confusion rather than illumination.