By Danielle Farrow
Your tour guide is Cuth (short for Cuthbert) and he has a young assistant called Toni, there to deal with Health and Safety. Cuth is intent on getting into the Co-operative Union of National Tour Guides but the course of sanctioned guiding never did run smooth. Problems include Toni’s inexperience / inefficiency, the looming threat / promise of a tour inspector, a would-be saboteur and Cuth’s own lack of true knowledge / understanding of Edinburgh, as well as a failed romance which haunts him.
What will be provided, though, is tour member participation in more than just walking, obscure historical facts, imaginary historical (and other) facts, and a continual feed of gentle verbal comedy that drifts through the tour currents, buoying up a general feeling of humour in between slapstick / broad comedy action.
Once on the move, a lot of the humour could be seen coming a Royal Mile away (though said Mile is not be seen). This, however, proved a decent set up for some inspired unexpected moments. Part of interest in this tour was in not knowing really what to expect and the journey is somewhat intriguing as you discover what you are in for and have some fun with that.
Certain famous elements of Edinburgh history do feature, including Greyfriar’s Bobby, Deacon Brodie and Half-Hangit Maggie, but opportunity has been lost here when it comes to using the views of Edinburgh that delight visitors and locals alike. Keeping mostly to obscure, little-frequented areas may help avoid distractions (other than filth and smells), but other productions have made better use of the glories in more busy areas of this fair city. This tour could, with easy changes to the stories and facts given, take place anywhere (and probably does). While research has been done to provide Edinburgh information, this has not been integrated to make the production feel actually site specific, and the lack of real sights is a great pity.
The World’s Greatest Walking Tour of Edinburgh provides the kind of entertainment whose enjoyment is more dependent than usual on one’s own sense of humour, mood at the time and expectations. There is some wit, plenty of fooling around and decent energy in performance, and the transitions from place to place are handled rather well, so the mix can amuse and leave you with a fairly unusual and comic experience, provided you do not feel that it was a little too basic, with some core content lacking.