Robert burns

A four-way race between poet, actor, video artist and sound engineer: Edinburgh Festival’s Burn reviewed

In a new hour-long monologue, Burn, Alan Cumming examines the life and work of Robert Burns. The biographical material is drawn from Burns’s letters, and the poems are read out in snatches. You won’t learn much except that Burns was a poor farmer who later worked as a taxman. To represent his many flings with women, a few high-heeled shoes are dangled on strings above the stage but this looks strangely cheap given that huge sums have been lavished on graphic imagery projected onto a big screen at the rear. Flashing lights and surges of music add to the sense of distraction. Cumming’s performance centres on dance, which looks like

A magnificent malt worthy of Burns

The bleak midwinter. Actually, since I wallowed in curmudgeonly complaints about dreich days, everything has improved. Clear blue skies, pleasing sunsets: perfect shooting weather. It is cold, admittedly, but that holds no terrors for those of us well insulated. The rest can wrap up. At least pro tem, we have moved to midwinter spring. In that spirit, over a pre-Burns supper, a few merry gentlemen were discussing humorous verse. Which is the funniest poem in English? A million years ago, when I was slogging through ‘The Knight’s Tale’, a school-fellow alerted the class to ‘The Miller’s Tale’, which follows on (not to be confused with English batsmen). Chaucer obviously felt