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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Whisky Kisses

© Mark Fisher - published in Northings, Hi-Aarts

WHISKY KISSES (George Square Theatre, Edinburgh, until 25 August 2008)
12 August 2008

MARK FISHER finds the RSAMD students dishing up an enjoyable show, but wonders if it loses its bite after a strong start

THERE'S A great premise behind Whisky Kisses, one of the front-runners in the Highland Quest for a New Musical competition, now being given a full production by students from Glasgow's RSAMD. We're in a swanky Manhattan office where high-flying executive Ben has spotted the chance to fill a gap in his whisky collection.

The last remaining bottle of Glenigma, a 100-year-old single malt, has come on to the market and is about to be auctioned. Although it is the day before Tartan Day ("It's my favourite time of the year"), he has no choice but to fly to the foot of Ben Igma to compete with a Japanese collector for the "ultimate dram".

The scene is set for a culture-clash comedy in which the romantic fancies of second-generation Scottish ex-pats rub up against the realities of Highland life. Book and lyric writers Euan Martin and Dave Smith start to stake out this territory, showing the locals deliberately tartanifying the distillery for the benefit of the foreign visitors who, in turn, are perplexed by the idiosyncrasies of bed and breakfast hospitality and the wild power of the landscape.

But for Whisky Kisses to have real satirical life, they need to push this idea further. Until the auction, the plot is driven by the characters and their avarice, which makes them strong comedic targets, but things go wrong through no fault of their own (things are scuppered by the intervention of the Malt Whisky Preservation Society) and after that, they are no longer calling the shots and there is a good deal less to send up.

It remains a reasonably enjoyable show thanks to the strong choral arrangements of Jim Bryce's score and the joyful singing of the young cast. But the subversive tone of the opening scenes fades in favour of clunky gags and a less inspired boy-meets-girl plot, suggesting that in this clash of Broadway convention and Highland quirkiness, it is the same-old-same-old that triumphs.

When the artistic team returns to the rehearsal room to develop a full two-act staging, it'd be good to see them having the courage of their convictions and giving the show its bite back.

(Remaining performances on 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23 and 25 August 2008)

© Mark Fisher, 2008

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