This lively musical, set in Fife, returns to the Fringe and with memorable characters, delightful songs and plenty of laughs. The show is based on John Watt’s folk song of the same name and written by Willie Logan and John Murray.
The Kelty Clippie is Maggie Blair (Jacqueline Hannan), who follows her dream and becomes a bus conductress in 1970s Fife. She is excited to wear her uniform and blows her whistle with gusto. On her first day she meets Boab the Driver (Linton Osborne) and finds herself going weak at the knees when he puts on his sunglasses and serenades her with a sensational performance of Are You Lonesome Tonight – who wouldn’t fall in love with such a man!
The bus makes its way through Fife, from Kircaldy to Kelty. The plot is simple, with a series of comic sketches to keep us entertained. When the show is performed in its home Kingdom, I’m sure there are cheers from the audience when they hear the names of their hometowns, which is a nice touch but may be lost on audiences from further afield.
The heart of the show is its characters. Hannan portrays the Kelty Clippie as both formidable and vulnerable – an earthy, thrifty Fifer. Senga (Lisa Birrell) is a party animal who staggers about drunkenly but regains her balance when it is time to dance. Betty (Mary Byford) and Ruby (Lorraine Doby) provide laughs as older bus passengers, and Sally (Ali Fleming) and her downtrodden husband Mikey (Garry Stanton) amuse with their banter at the bus stop. The friendly, but sexist, interviewer is played by Aaron Angeloni, who brings a warm naivete which counterbalances his chauvinistic utterances. The whole cast provide some memorable comic moments as well as enjoyable vocal performances.
There are some tatty old bus seats, and stairs leading to the top deck. There is litter on the floor of the bus, which feels genuine for the era. Seeing Maggie in her uniform reminded me of the days when my dad worked as a bus conductor, and the pride he took in his work, and I’m sure many other audience members will relish such nostalgic moments.
The title song will be familiar to most Scots, and is performed energetically by the whole cast, with an enthusiastic response from the audience. Overall, this was an enjoyable show full of laughs, with some great songs to boot.
Reviewer: Wendy McEwan
Reviewed: 25th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★