Brian Ferguson’s Festival Diary: 15 August

It was the incident that shocked millions at the World Cup: when Uruguay striker Luis Suarez bit Italian rival Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder.

Now what appears to be an action replay of the incident is taking place at the Edinburgh International Festival – with one of Scotland’s ancient kings standing accused of foul play.

It is impossible to tell how many of those packing into the Festival Theatre for The James Plays will be familiar with the antics of Suarez, but James II, played by Andrew Rothney, is clearly seen lunging at his friend William, the future Earl of Douglas, during a rowdy game of football.

William even shows the audience his bare shoulder in protest then leaps to his feet to fire the ball into the empty net.

However the play’s writer, Rona Munro, insists the scene was written two years ago. And the biting incident was said to have been fully choreographed by director Laurie Sansom during rehearsals well before the incident at the World Cup in June.

• An early sighting of Ian Rankin in Charlotte Square has quashed rumours he was giving the event a complete miss this year, despite his absence from the Book Festival programme.

One theory was that Rankin, one of Scotland’s artists to have steered clear of the independence debate, was lying low in the run-up to the poll.

Rankin had revealed at last year’s Book Festival that he was taking a year off from work to recharge his batteries.
But with the book of his debut stage play Dark Road just out and a collection of his short stories appearing in the autumn, his more eagle-eyed fans may have spotted that Rankin has been confirmed in the line-up for the Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling, which gets under way on 19 September – the day after Scotland goes to the polls.

• St Giles’ Cathedral, one of the most striking landmarks on the Royal Mile, has played host to some historic occasions in almost 900 years at the heart of Scotland’s capital. But if you are passing today have your camera phone at the ready to catch a one-off meeting involving the stars of the Fringe shows about Gordon Brown, Margaret Thatcher and Bill Clinton.

Originally published in The Scotsman

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