sun 27/05/2018

Edinburgh Fringe: Andrew Maxwell/ Spoiling | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe: Andrew Maxwell/ Spoiling

Edinburgh Fringe: Andrew Maxwell/ Spoiling

More from the world's biggest and best arts festival

Andrew Maxwell is tackling the vexed subject of the Scottish independence referendum in his new show

Andrew Maxwell (****) tells the Scots in the audience that he’s going to “rip the shit out of everything they hold dear” in Hubble Bubble, his take on the independence referendum. He doesn’t quite do that but it’s a witty and thoughtful take on the issues surrounding the vote.

Maxwell points out that the people of the British Islands are about 90 per cent genetically the same – “the rest is just flavourings” – and the show’s title suggests the Irishman finds nationalism a heady, dangerous brew. He says that Northern Ireland may be less than happy to wake up on 19 September to find Scotland has voted Yes, and that Scots may have a worrying knock on the door as their Celtic cousins “come home” after a few hundred years.

The show doesn’t always feel focused and Maxwell meanders – albeit amusingly – from the subject a few times, but when he’s on target he delivers some zingers.

  • Andrew Maxwell is at Assembly Rooms until 12 August

Spoiling ****

Gabriel Quigley and Richard Clements in Spoiling at the Edinburgh FestivalWhat a gem this is – barely 50 minutes in length, but fizzing with energy and whipcrack lines. John McCann’s short piece is set in summer 2015, after Scotland has voted for independence, and we’re in the Edinburgh flat of Fiona (Gabriel Quigley, pictured right with Richard Clements), the firebrand politician who won the vote for her (unnamed) party. She is about to deliver her first speech as foreign secretary, in a “handing over” ceremony with her UK counterpart.

But she has gone rogue – pregnant by someone thought to be her special adviser, now sacked without her knowledge – and the party suspects she will not deliver the agreed speech as she’s angry over Britain’s “interdependence” vision for the fledging nation. In comes new minder Mark (Richard Clements), a political apparatchik and graduate of the Northern Ireland peace process, as buttoned-up and on-message as she is passionate and off it.

What follows is some cracking dialogue and jousting as they each try to persuade the other of their positions and responsibilities. It’s directed by Orla O’Loughlin with an energy that never lets up and I wish it could have been twice as long.

  • Spoiling is at Traverse Theatre until 24 August

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