Valvona and Crolla
16, 20, 23, 27, 30th August

Toasting the LassiesA wee room at the back of Valvona and Crolla, a wee nip of whiskey and a wee crowd sets the scene for a gossip about Rabbie Burns and his various, and often nefarious, dealings with the lassies.

It is pertinent in 2009, the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns, that such a show is on offer in the Fringe. Gil Bowman is obviously passionate about the life and works of the poet and this enthusiasm shines through in her singing and storytelling.

The hostess is expecting Rabbie for dinner that night but has a wee bit of time before he is due to arrive to fill us in on the tittle-tattle that follows Burns throughout his life. The story focuses on the string of women in Burns’ life, all of whom he swore he loved ardently and inspired many of his greatest songs and poems. It is these songs that are scattered through the narrative to give the audience a complete impression of Rabbie’s relationship with the lassies.

There were a few moments where the juxtaposition of a beautiful, lilting love song and a gossip about Burns’ disreputable goings-on just doesn’t quite work. However, the intimacy of the setting, the wonderful singing voice of Gil and the delight that it is apparent both singer and audience are sharing allows these moments to go largely unnoticed.

I would highly recommend the show for tourists visiting Edinburgh or Scotland and those who want to know a bit more about the life and loves of Robert Burns. The group of tourists and Burns aficionados that were in the show with me all thoroughly enjoyed themselves – it was a “real treat”.

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