Reviewed by Deborah Mackenzie
The most beloved favourite son of Scotland and Dundee Rep both celebrate their 80th birthday; Selladoor Productions, the Rep and Noisemaker bring Wullie to life on stage.
The musical begins with a Scottish Pakistan boy Wahid (Eklovey Kashyap) being singled out because of his differences and at the receiving end of racist taunts. Wahid tries to explain that he is just the same as his schoolmates, a Scot born and raised. To escape further jeers, he escapes to the library. There he meets ‘Dudley’ (a reference to Wullie’s co-creator Dudley D. Watkins) who gives him an annual of Oor Wullie to read. Wahid opens the annual and says he can’t it as it doesn’t make sense, but Dudley tells him to take it with him and give it another try.
At home Wahid is left alone after several commands being shouted up to him by his parents as they return to work. He rummages in his backpack to get his homework out, but again the annual beckons him to read it. Leaving it on his desk as he goes to get some food, he returns to find his room in a mess, and Oor Wullie (Martin Quinn) hiding under his quilt. Wahid learns from Wullie that his bucket has gone missing and he needs to find it.
Wahid tells Wullie that he has seen his bucket, but it is locked away in his school, and thinks they should wait until the morning to go and get it. But more importantly, Wahid needs to hide Wullie from his family until then. He decides his parents’ shop would be a good place, but there they are met by Wullie pals. They all decide that they need to break into the school and get the bucket.
Part two we are transported to Auchenshoogle, Wullie’s hame toon, where they come face to face with Basher Mackenzie (Leanne Traynor), who has been scripted as a girl for the show, and her evil laugh as she tells Wullie that the bucket is now hers and it will be her story.
The show is far more than just a musical, with the use of music from across the world, it touches on real day problems of racial bullying, loneliness and being an outcast all because you are different. Although it is put across humorously at times, Eklovey Kashyap makes you feel heartsore as he is taunted.
PC Murdoch was one of my favourite characters, a target from Oor Wullie and the gang, from being sent the wrong way to having his hat shot off by catapult, he was still approachable in a time of trouble as he joins forces to find the bucket. The scene in Auchenshoogle between him and the teacher as they flirt is comical. Oh, and we can’t forget the bike scene as he gives a lift to the gang; it had us laughing.
Martin Quinn as Oor Wullie looked as if he really had stepped out the comic book, with his dungarees, spikey hair and mischievous cheek and charm. His song ‘Help Ma Boab’ is extremely catchy, funny and endearing.
This toe tapping, hands clapping and laugh out loud show is a must see for all the family, it has a storyline that could be on the big screen and brought days gone by to the future teaching us that even if you are ‘different’ you can fit in, it just takes one person to make a difference.
Tickets cost from £14.90 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Oor Wullie is at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow from 20-25 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-glasgow or call the box office on 0844 871 7647.
Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA | 0844 871 7647