Review: The Next Big Thing by Best Of Productions

Pleasant but clichéd anti-corporate comedy with a Beatles soundtrack

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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The Next Big Thing by Best Of Productions
Published 13 Aug 2018

Making hay from the fact that John Lennon famously used to holiday in Durness in the north of Scotland as a boy—and not Dornoch, location of Madonna and Guy Ritchie's wedding, as one joke in the piece has it—this ensemble comedy from Best Of Productions has more than a touch of the 1983 film Local Hero to it, although the soundtrack is the Beatles and not Mark Knopfler. Specifically, it tells of US tycoon Hamish Hardman—a gruff and somehow familiar character with a liking for baseball caps and golf courses—and his attempt to develop Durness into a tourist-friendly destination founded around a house bearing a wall entirely graffitied by a young Lennon.

Standing in his way are hapless young academic Donald Keays (James Ruskin), the American but Scots-descended Susan Mackay (Cristal Cole) and the staff and regulars of the local Durness Hotel. There's a sugary thwarted love story going on between Donald and Susan, and also a vague and somewhat cursory attempt to examine what it is to be Scottish, through the medium of Donald's academic musings.

Judging by Jane Gordon's adaptation of Michael Russell's book, this essential Scottishness is to be found in resistance to rapacious capitalism, in the communality of pub banter, and in love of music; specifically the music of an artist with a tenuous geographical link whose songs are beloved more or less everywhere. George Damms' soundtrack of acoustic Beatles tracks is pleasant and Grant Lawson is particularly amusing as Hardman and gruff local fool Archie, but otherwise the sense of soapy cliché around the piece is cloying.