Eric Davidson – Brigadoom theSpace @ Symposium till 24th August
Think of the most Scottish thing you can imagine. Then deep fry it and wrap it in plaid. That’s Brigadoom. Eric Davidson’s show doesn’t just pay lip service to being Scottish: it’s the Krankies riding Nessie into the Tunnock’s Tea Cakes factory while high on smack.
A plate of shortbread and a guitar are positioned on stage. They are presently joined by a bespectacled man clad in tartan trousers. This is Eric Davidson. He picks up the guitar and, to the backing tune of Old McDonald, busts into a ditty about how Auld Reekie had some trams.
It sounds like Alex Salmond giving birth to a thistle.
We laugh gently because we don’t know what’s coming. At this point, we’ve yet to hear Donald Whaur’s Yer Troosers laced with Nicola Sturgeon references, a mangled Scotland the Brave and Andy Murray being name-checked in Supercalifragilisticespialidocious.
It’s like a 50th birthday party in a crumbling function room. It’s kitsch, twee and as parochial as a turf war between Paisley and Penilee. Davidson pulls out a Scotch pie and has a conversation with it before busting into another comedy number, also involving Nicola Sturgeon.
Brigadoon, the musical which inspired the name for Eric Davidson’s show, opened in 1947. Back then, Brigadoom (the tartan-spattered pastiche) would probably have done well in the music halls of Scotland. What may have passed as entertainment 60 years ago however passes as glorified karaoke today. This isn’t Fringe-grade material; it’s the sort of shtick you’d endure on the ferry to Shetland.
In fairness to Eric Davidson, he has his moments – but moments is all they are. Provided you can stomach shouty, expletive-laden stand up, there are some decent lines about the Forth Bridge lurking in there. For every amusing quip however, there’s a song about pre-pubescent girls and caravans: ‘Fondling lassies on Top of the Pops. Jimmy Savile was a naughty man.’ It’s more Jim Davidson than Eric Davidson.
After delivering one of the most toe-curlingly Scottish performances the Fringe has ever seen, Davidson dispenses with the shortbread tin banter and flips things with a poem about steak bakes and drug barons driving Mercs. It’s better, but it’s way too late for redemption. Besides, there’s still the closing sketch to endure, which sees a man in tartan trousers and a wig covering Adele’s Skyfall while a projector intersperses yet more tartan with Alex Salmond’s grinning mug.
If you’re Scottish, this show will make you want to renounce your citizenship and take up morris dancing. If you’re English, this show will make you want to watch reruns of ’66 whilst vowing never to pass Hadrian’s Wall again. If you’re American, this show will make you want to trace your roots, having been charmed by this stunningly accurate portrayal of the Scotch nation.
Eric Davidson’s patter may be enjoyable to older audiences; those in attendance seemed reasonably satisfied with their hour’s karaoke. This critic, however, has never felt more ashamed to be Scottish. Even the 6-0 against the Dutch didn’t feel as bad as this.
There may be some redeeming features to Brigadoom, but hey, even Hitler built the autobahns and Mussolini made those pesky trains run on time. Somewhere beneath an abbey in Dunfermline, Robert the Bruce is turning in his grave. There are a million reasons to love Scotland. Just don’t expect to find any of them in this show.
Whether you hail from glorious Caledonia or any one of the world’s other glorious nations, don’t let Brigadoom be your abiding memory of this country. Think of James McFadden’s 40-yard screamer against the French. Think of Limmy wailing ‘She’s turned the weans against us!” Think of a smacked up Ewan McGregor pegging it down Princes Street. Think of that big castle up on the hill; hell, think of Braveheart if you must. Just don’t think of Brigadoom. We’re better than that. Much better.