Theatre review: A-Z of Dundee, Dundee Rep

DUNDEE IS on a roll at the moment. Listed by the National Geographic magazine as one of this year’s ‘must-see’ global destinations, the town of jam, jute and journalism has morphed into a city famed worldwide for design, digital technology, and world-class degree-level education.

A-Z of Dundee

A-Z of Dundee, Dundee Rep ***

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It may be, though, that in its current mood, Dundee would rather look outward than inward; for the Rep’s latest production - part of an 80th anniversary season of shows about the city - attracted a respectable, rather than a packed, audience on Friday, as a multi-talented group of six Rep actors led us through an alphabetical guide to the city that is full of wit and rich contemporary references, but still can’t help seeming a shade inward-looking and couthy, as it trawls its way through city traditions from the early myth of the Dundee dragon, through yarns of strong women and famous visitors, to the terrible tale of the haunted howff, a comedy horror film in a four-minute package.

Written by onstage music man John Kielty, with his brother Gerry, the show has a disappointingly vague relationship with the actual alphabet, and therefore slightly lacks clarity and shape. Yet Ewan Donald’s production features some joyful moments of audience participation, notably when we reach q for quiz; and if the show reminded me of how many of these Dundee stories I already know, thanks to the Rep’s sterling work over the years, it’s still a fine, friendly cabaret for an autumn evening, featuring some eloquent acting, and live music presented with the flair and force that has become one of the Rep’s unmistakeable trademarks, in the 21st century. Joyce McMillan