The world’s largest arts festival attracts audiences and performers from around the globe each August, but the political future of the host nation is taking center stage this year. Dozens of performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe focus on a Sept. 18 referendum that will determine whether Scotland remains part of the United Kingdom or becomes independent for the first time in 307 years. An intense public battle to persuade voters means that writers, comedians and actors in Scotland’s capital have not had to search far for satirical inspiration. The Fringe’s reputation for political comedy and satire have meant that the prominent figures from both sides of the campaign have come under fire, often in the same show.
“How to Achieve Redemption as a Scot Through the Medium of Braveheart” by Rachael Clerke pokes fun at the leaders of the independence movement, and presents purposefully unconvincing reenactments from Mel Gibson’s pro-Scotland blockbuster.
What most of the world thinks is Scottish history is simply not accurate, Clerke states again and again during her performance.
With her face painted blue and white, the colors of the Scottish flag, she recites Gibson’s rousing speech from “Braveheart,” where he plays William Wallace, the legendary Scottish warrior who fought the English 700 years ago. At the end of her wry performance, Clerke leads her audience onto the streets of Edinburgh.