Scotland reviews 31 items
Oor Wullie the Musical at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Oor Wullie the Musical is part-panto, part-children’s show… on the surface.

But most of the members of the opening night audience were, to put it kindly, older.

For Scots (and The Sunday Post readers south of the Border) have been following Oor Wullie’s adventures for the past 80 years. Voted Scotland’s Favourite Son in 2004, and with public art trails around Scotland last year to celebrate this spiky haired octogenarian (there were 60 sculptures in Edinburgh!), what better time to bring this comic book character to life.

Certainly, those who have been following RD Low and Dudley D Watkins’ creation for most of that time won’t be disappointed with Selladoor Productions and Dundee Rep’s production.

Under Andrew Panton’s direction, it is fast-paced and funny, and though irreverent is never smutty. The songs are catchy and its childlike cheeky humour should appeal to everyone from four to 90.

The plot revolves around (and no surprise here) Oor Wullie’s constant companion – his bucket! When it goes missing he and his pals Baob, Wee Eck and Soapy Soutar, defy the bullying Basher McKenzie, to hunt it down.

To me, growing up south of the border (though only just and I did follow him while as a child in Carlisle), the pals’ madcap antics brought me in mind of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. It emphasises just how important friendship is, but in today’s troubled society it digs deeper and highlights the trouble Wahid, a Scot whose parents came from Pakistan, has in being accepted, and the reasons why Basher feels he (though a she in this case) is against the world.

Even though Martin Quinn has the starring role as Oor Wullie, every member of Wullie’s gang is equally worthy of praise: Dan Buckley as the lovable Baob; Bailey Newsome as Soapy Soutar; Grant McIntyre who, as Wee Eck, deserves extra praise for having to wear such short shorts and T-bar sandals, and Eklovey Kashyap as the vulnerable and Harry Potterish Wahid. While Leanne Traynor exudes menace as Basher.

But the highlight for me is Ann Louise Ross as PC Murdoch. I don’t know whether it is the company’s nod to being gender fluid, but even though I knew who was playing him, I could never quite get my head round the fact that the policeman was a woman. If he was no longer with us I would have sworn it was Fulton Mackay!

There is no doubting that Oor Wullie is an icon. He is even responsible for helping primary school teachers to teach Scots in a fun way. And this show, adapted for the stage by Scott Gilmour and Claire McKenzie, looks as if, like Annie and Matilda, it could run and run, even if it would only be north of the Border!

Oor Wullie the Musical is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until Feb 1.
Box Office: 0131 529 6000
capitaltheatres.com
It then continues touring:
Gaiety Theatre, Ayr: Feb 3-8
Eden Court Theatre, Inverness: Feb 11-15
MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling: Mar 3-7
Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock: Mar 12-14