With The Onion of Bigotry, A History of Hatred Black Dingo Productions and the Kielty Brothers have created an engaging and largely enjoyable piece of theatre. Four actors, each assuming the roles of various figures in the history of Scotland, guide the audience through the nation’s past in an attempt to peel back the layers of Scottish sectarianism and seek out its rotten core.
Whilst a basic knowledge of Scottish history would definitely be needed to be in on all of the jokes, there’s enough silly stuff in there too for the less well-versed
Without question it is a huge, dark topic to tackle in a mere hour but the light-hearted narration sprinkled liberally with musical numbers keeps the play from becoming too heavy. The songs themselves are intelligently crafted and the musical numbers generally well-performed, although the choreography, when used, is basic to the point that it almost does not merit inclusion. The witty lyrics were met with audible chortles from the audience on more than one occasion and almost always with that intention. A particular highlight was a number recounting the unfortunate fates of the various King James’ of Scotland. The cast harmonises well and the vocal range of the multi-instrumentalist narrator is impressive.
Whilst a basic knowledge of Scottish history would definitely be needed to be in on all of the jokes, there’s enough silly stuff in there too for the less well-versed and for those simply keen to get an insight into the nation’s history, the show is ideal.
Travelling through time of course presents difficulties in relation to costume and set but the apparent absence of either worked against the company in this case. It was at times a little difficult to see past the actors’ own clothing and with only a few chairs used as props, the grandeur of the venue was a constant competitor for the attention of the audience.
By the end of the show, however, both the actors and audience were chanting along to the wonderful common sense solution offered up by the cast to the problem of sectarianism still very much alive in Scotland today.