Thursday, June 30, 2022
EntertainmentTHEATRE - Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour

THEATRE – Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour

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PREPARE for an exciting adventure through Edinburgh’s historic streets as you hear a tipsy version of it’s literary history. A rollicking good laugh, and educational too, the pub tour is a perfect introduction to the city for those willing to brave the festival crowds. 

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Running all year round, not just during the Fringe, the tour’s become somewhat of an Edinburgh institution, winning a 2019 Experts Choice Award on TripExpert, and even attracting the patronage of the Scottish fiction writer Iain Banks.

Clart (ALEX McSHERRY), a loveable drunken rouge, and the scholarly McBrain (EMMA VESEY), are the hosts for the evening’s tour as they battle to prove their own unique versions of Edinburgh’s literary history.

As you’re led from pub to pub, you’ll learn about the colourful, and at times shocking, history of some of Scotland’s most famous literary figures from the past, such as Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

There’s just enough time to stop for a drink at each pub as you watch the “battle of wits” unfold between the duo.

Both Clart’s tales of booze-fueled shenanigans and McBrain’s more reserved contributions meld together to paint a vivid picture of the dual nature of Edinburgh’s literary scene.

The hosts bring the literary figures to life on the streets of Edinburgh where they once walked. You can almost see Sir Walter Scott striding past the tiny Jolly Judge with his pronounced limp, or huddled by its cosy fire writing during the depths of Scotland’s bitter winters.

Though McBrain is engaging and informative, it is Clart’s character that is the highlight of the tour. His cheeky anecdotes, thick Scottish brogue, and merry disposition helped along by his ever-present hip flask, are funny and endearing.

You find yourself wanting to believe his version of events, though they should probably be taken with a pinch of salt.

Due to the festival, the tour is only able to visit three pubs, and this is where it falls short.

The Beehive Inn is great, but the Jolly Judge is too small to really spend any time in, and the Wash Bar feels modern and out of place.

The streets and courtyards where the performances are held are scenic enough, and the hosts keep you entertained, but of course the outdoor aspect of this venture means that revellers will always have to be prepared for the turns of the Scottish weather.

It’s easy to see how the tour has been running since 1996. Though it’s lacking slightly as a pub tour, as a piece of outdoor theatre it is truly second to none.

The snapshot it provides you of Edinburgh perfectly encapsulates both the town’s historical significance, as well as the charm and boisterous nature that have made it such an inspiration to it’s writers.

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