The Villains, the Vote and the Black, Black Oil

The show uses a mixture of devised and traditional songs, short sketches, narration, and pantomime versions of figures from recent history to recount some of the most important events of the last 36 years for Scotland. These include, among other things, the 1979 referendum for a Scottish Assembly (it failed because of some legislative skullduggery from Westminster) and Donald Trump's infamous golf courses. The play was designed to be a sequel to John McGrath's The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil, which covered the history of Scotland up to 1974.

I did find myself wishing the show was a little less didactic.

The show was incredibly popular with this audience. The packed auditorium was singing along to The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond within minutes of the play starting and the same level of supportive energy was maintained throughout the show. Everyone even clapped the ironic Margaret Thatcher song. The performers really made the most of playing to a home crowd, giving everything they had to their performances and rewarding the audience for their enthusiasm.

The performances are strong. Don't expect any musical theatre belters or RSC-worthy acting, because that isn't what this is about. You can expect entertaining, roughly hewn character sketches and archetypes, audience interaction, and nice folky singing. You can also expect disarming sincerity when the cast move from telling the story to making requests of the audience.

I did find myself wishing the show was a little less didactic. Although I agreed with all the points that were being made, I found myself wanting to disagree because their arguments were presented in such a one-sided fashion. McGrath's original play used documentary footage and filmed interviews with relevant people to lend credence to his arguments. This play suffers for a lack of data. Everything they say is true, but the lack of nuance or evidence makes it feel like it isn't.

Nevertheless, this is a very entertaining hour of theatre that covers a lot of points that should be relevant to anyone voting in the upcoming Scottish Independence Referendum.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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The Blurb

Scottish comedy, live music, excessive Donald Trump-ing – what could possibly go wrong? This sequel to 7:84 Scotland’s The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, explores three harrowing tales of capitalism’s effect on Scotland from the past forty years. Caught Red-Handed present The Villains, the Vote and the Black, Black Oil to open a new avenue of discussion surrounding the Scottish Independence Referendum. Come along – laugh, sing and boo Donald Trump. That’s all we ask. #VillainsVoteBlackBlackOil.

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