BIG SEAN, MIKEY AND ME
Big Sean, Mikey and Me- Gilded Balloon 1.30pm
From the moment Ruaraidh Murray announces to the audience that what we are about to witness is definitely not musical theatre I am immediately re-assured and quite prepared to entrust the next hour of my attention to him, and his one man show, detailing his life as a struggling actor and relating it to events which occurred in his formative Edinburgh years.
In many ways a valentine to his home city –he has lived in London for the last fifteen years- he has written and directed himself a compelling piece of work which, apart from appealing to the usual festival going crowd, will also be extremely attractive to Edinburgh residents. Very often they feel their city gets neglected as London based artists use the Scottish Capital as merely a platform to promote their work whilst knowing little about the city itself.
Having grown up in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge area Murray has an interesting and diverse collection of reminiscences to draw from and to help him along his way- acting as a spiritual mentor and guiding light- is Sean Connery who was always an inspiration to the aspiring actor from his earliest days. Also on board is Mikey, a friend since primary school, and a friendship formed on the fact that young Ruaraidh didn’t identify him as bullying a classmate merely because he felt if he did then he would be next in line for the treatment.
What follows over the next hour is what seems like a freeform show with voices and characters dipped in and out of almost randomly but is in fact a brilliantly constructed, performed and cleverly thought out production. Stripped of little apart from Murray’s natural talent and energy – there is a work out scene which will leave even the most stationary audience member exhausted just watching- it is an exhilarating ride which never lets up for a second. Even the quieter moments are racked with very real emotions-there is a sense Murray is actually reliving the actual events he is describing- whilst he is always capable of defusing the tension with humour. A particularly amusing scene occurs when he describes the, probably never heard before, dichotomy of Kenny Rogers versus ‘black man’s cock’ and this dilemma poses itself at a crucial moment when he should be experiencing terror.
At this time of year to hear an Edinburgh accent is nearly as rare as a decent acting role in Hollyoaks. It is therefore a relief for a show written about Edinburgh, by an Edinburgh native and delivered in an Edinburgh accent-never better or more effective than when he recites a list of Edinburgh gangs- and also a pleasure. It is a great show for anyone though and visitors to the city should see it if only to gain a better insight rather than just the usual tourist traps. Intense and riveting, Murray has created a homage worthy of his hometown and the early friendships which, not only, shaped him but have continually stayed with him as a touchstone throughout his life journey. An exceptional piece of work!