Preview: The Tobacco Merchant’s Lawyer

Andy Paterson in Iain Heggie's The Tobacco Merchant's Lawyer at The Biscuit Factory
Andy Paterson in Iain Heggie's The Tobacco Merchant's Lawyer at The Biscuit Factory
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THERE’S a chance to be transported back to late 18th century Glasgow at Leith’s Biscuit Factory tomorrow, when Andy Paterson reprises his role as lawyer Enoch Dalmellington for one night only.

When Dalmellington finds himself facing financial ruin, few options are left available to him. His best chance of avoiding a life of poverty is to have his only daughter Euphemia marry a wealthy suitor.

But Euphemia, who he describes as a ‘plain, pious, humourless girl’ may prove hard to persuade.

Then there is the question of his political views - a Scottish nationalist, and his only possible benefactor is a profiteering tobacco and slave trader who is of a Unionist persuasion. Not forgetting Widow Mackay, Dalmellington’s housekeeper, who rules the roost and may have romantic designs on the widower lawyer. 

And if a frustrating household and imminent bankruptcy were not enough to deal with, the lawyer is troubled by the predictions of political medium Madam Zapata and her scarifying havers of a 21st Century Scotland.

“The script is a delight,” says Paterson. “Poor Dalmellington is a man under attack on all fronts.

“His family fortune is lost, his unmarried daughter is clearly a feminist and he is bombarded by new ideas and opinions in a Scotland that is changing thanks to the Enlightenment.

“Everywhere he turns he finds few answers to his predicament.

“But Enoch Dalmellington is a player, he might not be the brightest, but he is a player. To watch him play politics with all around him as he attempts to save his own skin is hilarious.

‘He’ll pretty much stop at nothing to get the right outcome, but much of what he achieves is more by accident than design.’

Now in its fifth production, and with a Radio 4 adaptation under its belt, tomorrow’s performance is the last before next Fringe.

The Tobacco Merchant’s Lawyer, Biscuit Factory, Anderson Place, 7.30pm, tomorrow, £12, 0800-411 8881