Socialist Worker

Union: A new play that shows how Scotland’s elites sold its independence in 1707

by Keith Pender
Issue No. 2397

Union is on at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh until 12 April

Union is on at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh until 12 April

In the year when the union between Scotland and England could be consigned to history, Union looks at the events leading up to the momentous vote in 1707 that established it. 

Writer Tim Barrow’s play does not seek to take sides in the current debate over independence. 

But it portrays the image popularised by poet Robbie Burns of Scotland’s self-serving elite voting its parliament out of existence for financial gain.

Director Mark Thompson describes Barrow’s script as having an “energetic foul-mouthed eloquence”. It certainly lives up to this, veering from pantomime-like displays to more serious depictions of political intrigue and debate. 

It introduces intriguing characters such as English spy and propagandist Daniel Defoe, who played key roles in both Edinburgh and London.

The main architect of the union, the Duke of Queensberry fits the bill, shown as a flamboyant, rakish rogue. The Duke of Marlborough is also brilliantly portrayed as a loud, aggressive arch imperialist. 

The revolving set with projected images was impressive.  

Union is perhaps overly long, and less coherent in the second act. But it is at times very funny, and well worth seeing.

Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until 12 April


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Article information

Tue 1 Apr 2014, 19:45 BST
Issue No. 2397
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