IT TAKES a certain amount of confidence to let a reviewer into your one-man show on its first-ever performance, but Edinburgh-born writer/actor Ruaraidh Murray was keen for people to see it as soon as possible.
Big Sean, Mikey and Me
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)
In an age when any sensible public relations consultant would discourage such recklessness, it was thrilling to hear – and set a precedent for a refreshingly open and heartfelt performance.
Based upon the real-life story of Murray’s journey from an easily-led lad negotiating “schemies” on the streets of Scotland’s capital to an aspiring actor on the make in London, this is a warm and funny tale that celebrates authentic working-class Edinburgh, particularly the rough-and-tumble straight-talking characters tourist guides omit.
Bridging the gap between fights on the streets of Leith and post-drama school life in Soho is the unlikely childhood friendship between Murray and school bully turned prison inmate Mikey – one that remains strong into adulthood despite growing divides in circumstance and geography.
Murray also has another friend – an imaginary version of Sean Connery, who is both his cheerleader and nemesis, encouraging him when it comes to winning over blonde women called Julie, but turning against him when he attempts to audition for a Gillette advert.
Murray is the kind of effortlessly charming performer a show like this relies upon to succeed. Often simultaneously crude and endearing, he flashes a Ewan McGregor-style smile, and all number of misdemeanours are instantly forgiven. At the start, he jokes about the fact he doesn’t have a director, but he doesn’t really need one, single-handedly conjuring up richly funny scenes and characters that fill the stage.
As the voices in Murray’s head increase, the question of schizophrenia is briefly touched upon, but then abandoned in favour of another dose of raucous anecdotes which, enjoyable as they are, leave this darker twist tantalisingly underexplored.
Described in the Fringe programme by Irvine Welsh as “a slice of true Edinburgh class”, the wiry narrative could do with more focus. But it has the haphazard beauty of Trainspotting and, through a touchingly sad conclusion, invites us to embrace where we come from even as we leave it behind.
• Until 27 August. Today 1:30pm.