Home » Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews » (Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews): The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant by Alan Bissett

(Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews): The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant by Alan Bissett


Showing @ Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, until August 24 (not 18) @ 14:30


Optimist: The play stars a cheeky bogle, a sexy selkie, a dour banshee and a diabolical demon. We find out our faerie protagonists, particularly the demon Black Donald, have had a hand in the events of Scottish history, and especially the Act of Union. The faeries are worried that if Scotland votes Yes and becomes a ‘proper country’ then it won’t have need for mythology anymore, and the faeries will all die out. It’s a cheekily satirical play, complete with a gorgeous and atmospheric set.

Cynic: …There’s a couple of chairs and some smoke.

Optimist: Beautiful chairs, and the smoke is used to great effect. The Assembly Rooms seemed like a terrific Fringe venue in general. But back to the play. At one point each of the faeries proposes the best way to make Scotland vote No, and in doing so they each appeal to their own characteristics. For example, the selkie believes the No campaign should make the Union seem pretty and enticing before…well, you know what selkies do to you. It’s an especially fun and clever little segment of the show.

Cynic: It was a good segment but that gets me onto the part I wanted to talk about; the play is essentially Yes propaganda.

Optimist: Alan Bissett is pro-Yes. He has said from the start that this is a pro-Yes play. It was crowd-funded by Yes voters and we’re voting Yes! So why on earth are you complaining about it being partisan?

Cynic: Being SO gung-ho about it just makes me a little uncomfortable.

Optimist: It’s unashamedly optimistic about Scotland’s future as an independent nation. Actively working to temper our own excitement about it seems emblematic of the exact kind of Scottish miserablism Bissett wants to oppose here.

Cynic: *Grumbles*

Optimist: Exactly. The play is clever, witty, fun, does exactly what it sets out to do and is executed splendidly. You can’t help but walk out of the theatre with a smile on your face.


Stephen: I saw The Pure, the Dead and the Brilliant on its first day. It was packed out then and I’ve heard it’s been packed out every night since, too. And it’s well deserved; this is a great play with lots of cheeky Scottish humour. Perfect if you’re a Yes voter or leaning in that direction (probably unbearable if you’re a staunch ‘No’, though!)



  1. Irene Bissett says:

    What else can I say it was is a shear dead brilliant piece of writing and the four actors were fantastic.

  2. James Innes-Macleod says:

    as Irene says it was a great piece of writing and very well presented by the cast,we really enjoyed it.a lovely hour of laughter and some serious thoughts as to what would happen to Scotland if the vote went to no.

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