As 2016 limps to its unlamented close, we thought it might be nice to look back over the year and point out some of the shafts of light that pierced the gloom this year.
Pick of 2016: The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil at the Dundee Rep
2016 has been a real shitter hasn’t it?
Not only have we lost a small army of unique artists from all disciplines of art, but the gaps they have left have been filled by increasing appalling individuals who very names I am reluctant to type, in case a Google algorithm somewhere uses this article to promote them even further up the Twittersphere. So, in just twelve months, the creative and compassionate have been supplanted by the destructive and ignorant. If you aren’t already, then you really should think about getting angry. The best way to do this of course is not violence and division, but truth and humour.
Which brings me to my pick of 2016…
In 1972, John McGrath was so angry about the exploitation of the Scottish Highlands, over several centuries, by a succession of unscrupulous land owners, governments and businesses, that he wrote The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil. Essentially a dramatised Ceilidh, The Cheviot… combines music, drama, satire and comedy, into a rich review show of brilliantly written songs and skits, each one illuminating the injustices and hypocracies of the ruling classes, and gently mocks the shortbread tin cliches of highland life, and the distant sentimentailty of ex-pat Scots.
Dundee Rep’s revival this year was updated with some choice jokes about the independence referendum and a well known muppet-haired golf course developer. It was an absolute riot. Songs were sung, jokes cracked, tears shed and the fourth wall shattered – the cast literally forced the audience to get involved.
Forty years after it was first performed, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil is more relevant than ever. Dundee Rep’s exuberant production and subsequent Scottish tour was one of the most moving and uplifting theatre experiences I have ever had. A highlight in a grim year and a reminder that music and theatre have the power to bring joy and hope, even in the shittiest of years.
Pick of 2016: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
2016 has been some year. One which has, I think, taught us that we all need to try to have a little more humanity, to be kind to those around us and to generally share a little love. In light of that, my reccommendation from 2016 aims to teach us a bit about that.
Hunt For The Wilderpeople is a wonderful film about what it means to be human; to love and be loved, to suffer loss, and to be at one with nature. I urge you to run to the nearest dvd shop and pick up a copy – and while you’re at it one for each of your friends – so that you might remember just what it is to be human, in all its raw beauty; a feeling we need more than ever in these darker days.