Review: Dear Scotland Tour B

Colin McCredie portrays the Queen and Edinburgh diarist and Dr Samuel Johnson's amanuensis, James Boswell. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Colin McCredie portrays the Queen and Edinburgh diarist and Dr Samuel Johnson's amanuensis, James Boswell. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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DEAR Scotland demands a certain level of physical fitness from its audiences.

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An innovative piece of promenade theatre in which groups of 15 are escorted to performances staged at various points throughout the Portrait Gallery, logistics dictate that those attending a show must remain on their feet for almost its full duration. If the idea of leaning on a plinth and knocking over a priceless work of art is a legitimate personal concern, then it’s probably for the best that you give this one a wide berth.

If, however, you appreciate the opportunity to experience thought-provoking drama in a unique setting and are prepared to withstand a mild degree of discomfort, the latest production from the National Theatre of Scotland is unmissable.

Directors Joe Douglas and Catrin Evans gave 20 of the country’s finest writers free reign to create scripts inspired by the gallery’s exhibits, each of which is brought to life by one of nine versatile and engaging acting talents, including Colin McCreadie, right. Their monologues address present-day Scotland, culturally significant figures offering the nation advice and encouragement on the eve of the referendum.

It can’t be taken as a given that Muriel Spark would have supported independence as fully as Janice Galloway’s contribution suggests, the late author exhorting us to “turn to the North Sea . . . and go on your way rejoicing”. Similarly, we’re unlikely to ever know the extent to which the prospect of a broken union hurts our current queen’s feelings. What makes Dear Scotland so brilliant, however, is the plausibility of its playful musings. As we ricochet around the gallery, it’s easy to forget that every word is fiction.

The characters whom we encounter are occasionally impassioned to unsettling effect, prowling among us wide-eyed and excitable. An emotionally intense experience, the production certainly seems to favour the “Yes” side of the independence debate, voicing just enough dissent to give the impression of balance. Whatever decision the country makes come September, this inspiring work will leave you assured that Scotland has a glorious future still yet to be written.

• Run ends Saturday