P&J Column for 3.12.12

Your St Andrew’s Night entertainment – The Meikle Wartle Ceilidh Band (Ft. Will.I.Am)

View from the midden – JOCK ALEXANDER

Fit like ab’dy! It’s been a bittie quiet in the village of late, as it’s been o’er caul for deain’ much mair than sitting’ in bed in your long johns, but michty, Friday nicht fairly made up for it, as it wiz the St Andrew’s Nicht Ceilidh. Fit a nicht in the Village Hall!  Yours truly was in cherge of the band, and as Meikle Wartle’s maist celebrated, and indeed only, squeezebox maestro, I wiz strapped intae Megan, my trusty Borsini Super Star twa-thoosan. We also hid Tam Minto showing a surprising aptitude for electric bass, bearing in mind that after that stooshie with the threshing machine he’s only got the one airm, and Feel Moira bashing’ awa at the drums. And the fleer. And onyb’dy that got too near her. It wiz minus 10 ootside and the hall door wiz iced shut, so we hid a captive audience, fit wiz ideal!

Fit really made the nicht memorable, wiz the arrival of Will.I.Am fae the Bleck–eened Peas. He wis there with Yvie Burnett, fa’s a singing coach doon in London. But we dinna hud that against her. She’s fae Methlick, originally. We div hud that against her, like. Onywye, Will hid heard Yvie spikkin the doric and hid become quite the fan, so he wis mad keen tae visit Meikle Wartle and immerse himself in wir culture.  Me and Jimmy Kemp wiz blethering awa tae him for long enough aboot root vegetables afore we realised that his request wis for Phat Beats, as opposed tae fat beets, which we’d assumed he winted tae ging wi his stovies.

Onywye that wis wir cue tae get the band tae lay doon a block-rockin’ St Bernard’s Waltz and a Dashing White Seargent that made a’body in the hoose  wave their hands in the air like they jist didna care. Impressed with the wye we hid got the perty sterted, Mr Am (or Wee Lum, as I think he’s crying himself since Friday) jined us for a spirited rendition of his hit ‘I Got a Feeling’, which we did as a Gay Gordons.

As we wis leaving I telt him tae watch out for the dubby step but he says tae me ‘No way, Jock, Dubstep is sooo 2008’. Unfortunately, that’s when he trod on it. He winna be weering that loafers again. Fo’ shizzle.



J. FERGUS LAMONT, arts critic and author of  “A Ginger Peachy Goodnight’ – A Post-Brechtian Analysis of Grampian TV”, attended ‘Snow White’.

“Fit like, Aiberdeen?”  The fourth wall was not so much broken as rent asunder in “Snow White”, a trailblazing piece of experimental theatre at Aberdeen’s foremost avant garde performance space, His Majesty’s Theatre.  Pantomime has its roots in the provincial Italian Commedia Dell’arte and is also heavily influenced by the ancient British folk players “The Mummers” (whose second album, ‘Babel’ is on currently on general release). You may not have heard about this production (there has been little or no publicity) but its dramatic power has no equal, and I include in that assessment the Singing Kettle’s searing ‘Calamity Castle’.

Never before have I witnessed an Aberdeen audience (cultured, yet at times, capable of the most witheringly critical indifference) so fully engaged in a piece of drama. Through the guile of the authors and craft of the performers, we became inexorably entangled with the dramatis personae. In an exhilarating flourish simultaneously reminiscent of Ibsen and fizzing with originality, the audience acts as the subconscious of the characters. Whenever one claims to be sure of their ground we, en masse, cry out to express their existential self-doubt; “Oh no it isn’t!” Then there are the impassioned exchanges when our protagonists seek to avoid a confrontation, only for their nemesis to approach from the rear.  “He’s behind you!” we yell, to apparently uncomprehending ears. And he was. A brilliant evocation of the frustration and impotence felt by the masses under this Coalition Government.

Few will be familiar with the original source material, an obscure Germanic folk tale, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, but suffice to say that among the themes it deals with are problems with body-image, prejudice against non-traditional families and the dangers of genetically-modified foods.

Whilst the title invokes the storytelling traditions of Central Europe (clearly the authors are students of Die Gebrüder Grimm) the greater stylistic influence is Molière. I said to the delightful young usherette who sold me a satirically miniscule pot of ice-cream. “I have never seen such a beautiful piece of farce!”  She seemed upset, I can only assume she was embarrassed at having failed to notice the clear parallels with ‘Tartuffe’

Imagine my delight when, towards the climax of the production, the audience was divided into two halves (the Id, and the Ego, as Freud would have observed), and led in a ‘singing competition’ pointedly skewering the current vogue for talent-show entertainments. I feel truly privileged to have been there on the unique occasion when, movingly, both halves of the audience were judged to be equal; neatly subverting the premise and reminding us that we are better united than divided; a clarion call for a ‘No’ vote in the forthcoming referendum on Scottish Independence, and the preservation of the National Health Service.

I wept.