Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Willie And Sebastian, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Joyce McMillan
TWO years ago, they won a Fringe First for Kiss Me Honey Honey, Ian Pattison’s bizarre and hilarious comedy about two middle-aged men devastated by divorce, who find themselves living in the same dodgy Edinburgh rooming-house.
This year Grant Stott and Andy Gray are back, deploying the comedy chemistry of their famous annual partnership in the Edinburgh King’s Christmas panto in this new Pattison play about the strange, true Soho tale of Willie Donaldson and Sebastian Horsley – the one an ageing former theatre producer and epic drinker, the other a famous modern-day dandy – and how they fell out over a woman, here called Rebecca, and played by the gorgeous Michelle Gallagher.
There’s plenty here to entertain Gray and Stott’s fans for an hour, not least a study-cum-living-room set, in Donaldson’s flat, that pleasingly combines squalor and faded grandeur, and Gray’s vintage performance as Donaldson, which, despite a certain uneasiness of accent, scales tremendous heights of wrecked dignity, sheer desperation and last-gasp resilience.
Stott’s version of Horsley, though, often seems more like a send-up than a performance, even while he captures some of Horsley’s loving goodwill towards both Willie and Rebecca. And despite some beautiful precision acting from Gallagher, the comedy flags as the story approaches its relatively tragic end. There may be a great play to be written about Willie and Sebastian, in other words; but despite many entertaining moments, this is not quite it.
Gilded Balloon (Venue 14), until 31 August, 8:15pm.
Published in The Scotsman on 29 August 2015
Edinburgh Festivals 2015: complete coverage
• Get everything on our Festivals homepage – on desktop, mobile or tablet
• Looking for reviews? Check out the latest Scotsman reviews – or browse all the reviews ranked by star rating
• Watch all the latest videos from the #WOWwagon
• Get distracted by our Festival Blog
• Check out today’s half-price ticket deals
• Follow our social accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – and join the conversation with #WOWfest