Theatre review: The Last Queen of Scotland

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Presented by Scotland’s leading women’s theatre company, directed by its artistic director Jemima Levick, and dealing directly with one of the key themes of this year’s Fringe, the legacy of colonialism, The Last Queen Of Scotland has all the makings of a hugely successful show.

Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61)

***

The writer, Jaimini Jethwa, is a Scottish Ugandan Asian, whose family settled in Dundee after their abrupt expulsion from Uganda in the 1970s by the brutal dictator Idi Amin; and the main character is a 21st-century girl from a similar Dundee family, who suddenly finds – as she reaches her twenties – that she needs to understand the trauma her family suffered, and how they survived it.

In the end, this solo drama – with live music and strong accompanying stage presence from musician/composer Patricia Panther – seems almost unable to handle the extreme emotions unleashed by the heroine’s journey to Kampala and beyond, in search of her roots; the storyline becomes hard to follow, as Rehanna MacDonald’s performance reaches a shrieking, traumatised breaking-point.

Yet there’s a wonderful background richness to this show, both in Panther’s music, and in some beautiful, bright design by Anna Orton, lit by Ian Dow. And if it slightly loses its thread in the end, it still tells a story well worth telling, from a powerful Dundee angle that adds another layer of meaning to this year’s Fringe narrative of migration, exile, and all the physical and emotional borders that must be crossed, in order to make a new life.

Until 26 August. Today 6:50pm.