Welcome to Glasgow, 250 years ago. The 18th Century is brought to life in this richly wrought one man play; a subtle script also manages to draw parallels with the modern day, with some laughs thrown in for good measure.
Told in a gossipy style, secret nationalist and witty narrator Mr Dalmellington brings to life his world of falling wealth and failing gentility. Along the way we meet his daughter Euphemia – affectionately described as a "dreich, pious, humourless girl", who nevertheless comes across very sympathetically. Then there's his friend Widow Macrae, with whom he frequently argues, particularly over her friend Mistress Zapertan's crazy predictions for a future with... cars. Elsewhere there's the idealistic Master Buccleuch and the dastardly, pro-slavery Mr McCorquodale – who are both after Euphemia's hand in marriage. Will Mr Dalmellington's flexible morals withstand his dire need for money?
Although this is a one-man play, the combination of an excellent performance and carefully written script truly brings to life the other characters in the story, and keeps the performance interesting. The damning comparisons with current politics create an interesting undercurrent which gently sets the tone as pro-independence. All of this adds real depth to the The Tobacco Merchant's Lawyer.
It must be said that this is not for those who enjoy flashy, high-production Fringe shows, and may primarily appeal to those already interested in the 18th Century and Scottish politics. That said, it is a quality small-scale production, and rewarding for those who listen carefully to its understated charm.
It's a show that will entertain you as you watch it, but leave you pondering some of the similar issues faced in present-day Glasgow. There are some good laughs, generally generated from sturdy West-Coast humour – and unlike most of the Fringe, this is a play very much rooted in Scottish culture.