Edinburgh Festival Fringe: She’s some woman, that Moira Bell.
Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30)
Queen of the Falkirk schemes, and alter ego of one of Scotland’s most gifted male novelists, she first emerged into the spotlight half a decade ago, sporting her trademark mix of generous spirit, sharp streetwise intelligence and a pure terrifying streak of violence, particularly when her nearest and dearest are threatened; and now, she returns in a near-perfect series of new monologues, both howlingly funny – as performed by the writer Alan Bissett – and unnervingly sharp and poetic, in their vision of where the Scottish working class might be at, in the summer of 2017.
This time around, Moira has become a granny; and as Bissett – helped by director Sacha Kyle – conjures up her inimitable presence with a tilt of the hip and a flick of a cigarette, it’s immediately clear that the experience of being a gran might have been designed to bring out the best and the worst in Moira, as she coos over the adored grand wean, blowing smoke straight into his face, and threatening to give all his future enemies a doing.
It’s not just the wee yin who absorbs Moira’s attention this time round, though; there’s a trip to the unknown land of Inverness for a rollercoaster reconciliation with her sister, a hilarious taboo-busting train conversation with an Englishman about Scottish independence, and an encounter with her ex-man, while she’s trying to pursue her “wee cleaning job”, so spectacularly well performed that the air fairly smoulders with sexual tension and outright hilarity.
In the end, Moira takes a trip to the Kelpies, symbol of a new Falkirk, and encounters a moment of rare and soaring self-knowledge, in conversation with the inevitable urchin who tries to steal her bike; reminding us that while Moira makes us laugh till our ribs ache, her story is also in part a tragic one. As she might say herself, and as working-class Scots have been saying to each other for centuries, if ye didnae laugh, ye wid cry.
Until 28 August. Today 7pm.