By Isabella Fraser
What on earth is an onion of bigotry? Well, over the space of an hour, this witty and entertaining musical explains it all to you. A full speed romp through the history of Scotland, its religious factions, royalty and the quirkiness of the Scottish nature, this show is a laugh-out-loud bite of insight into a subject many people have heard of but never really understood – sectarianism.
Written by the (award winning) Kielty Brothers John and Gerry, who also star in this musical, accompanied by Jordanna O’Neill and Stanley Pattison, this is a show which has its tongue firmly in cheek and is all the better for it. Striding out onto the set, the Kieltys and O’Neill are clad all in black like characters from The Matrix; Pattison alone is in ordinary clothes. This is deliberate as Pattison gets to be the odd man out – usually the religion that is not in vogue at any given point in history.
The Kieltys’ writing is intelligent and with clever use of parodies and mis-hearing of words, manages to draw in the audience as it weaves the tale of Scotland’s changing religious history. While it may help to have some knowledge about Scotland’s past, a surprising amount of facts are given throughout the hour. Who knew that Sir Walter Scott, the novelist, playwright and poet, was ultimately responsible for the kilt becoming part of Scotland’s traditional tartan identity?
With cheeky, catchy lyrics – the alliteration in the blighted potatoes song is impressive – and an energy that infects the audience with its enthusiasm, this is a fun packed hour. A subject such as sectarianism is not easy to address so it is refreshing to see work that acknowledges the ever-changing nature of belonging but does so in such a way that does not patronise or alienate its audience.
The Onion of Bigotry – A History of Hatred runs until 25 August (not 24) in the Church at the Just Festival at 16.00. Running time is 1 hour.