“Are you Scottish?” I heard a man ask someone dressed in full kilt and sporran with tweed jacket and cap in the bar before this show. He turned out to be an Australian (Sam Dugmore) who is performing with fellow non-Scottish Latebloomers Ollie Nilsson and Jonathan Tilley in a highly entertaining look at Scotland’s life and culture – or at least the stereotypical image of that country – including whisky, shortbread and deer stalking.
The show opens with a fishing scene, which returns as a running gag throughout and showcases these performers’ effective use of mime, facial expression and vocal impressions, especially in such close proximity to their audience.
Their other great skills are in engaging the audience quickly and establishing each individual character, so that we are immediately involved in what is going to happen next.
This soon develops into invitations to audience members to participate, with greater or lesser reluctance, but always supported by an enthusiastically relieved crowd and by mimed encouragement from the trio of performers.
The first participant looked only mildly surprised when she was asked to catch Dugmore’s legs in full handstand as he revealed that this particular Scotsman was wearing something beneath his kilt. Another was cast as a stag in a deerstalking scene, wearing a furry helmet and horns and being led through a complicatedly hilarious hunt. Yet another found herself taking the blame for a prank in which Nilsson and Tilley stole Dugmore’s hipflask of whisky.
These good-natured acts of involvement are only part of the show, and it moves along at a breathtaking pace, changing from song to silent comedy and occasional poignant links to the next scene. Other memorable moments include the creation of sound effects from the whole audience, spurred on only by facial expression and gesture from the stage, providing a blast of wind or a sung echo to produce a reaction from the performers.
The Latebloomers are an extremely talented and professional act who take their audience along on this ride through all things Scottish with appealing good humour and supreme skill. This skill was tested by the audience member who was involved in the whisky prank, as they called her to the stage for a slightly chaotic final battle scene – and for that I apologise, Latebloomers!
You don’t need to be Scottish to love this show. The packed audience was unanimous in its joyful and enthusiastic approval.
Scotland! continues at the National Wine Centre until March 17. See more Adelaide Fringe reviews and stories here.