Falkirk writer Alan Bissett on his new independence play ‘The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant’

Elaine C Smith, Paul James Corrigan and Michelle Gallagher star in Alan Bisset's new play 'The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant'
Elaine C Smith, Paul James Corrigan and Michelle Gallagher star in Alan Bisset's new play 'The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant'

For Alan Bissett, penning a satire about the referendum was almost destined to happen, but it didn’t come without its challenges.

‘The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant’, currently enjoying a month-long run at the Edinburgh Festival, has been financed entirely by crowdfunding from Scottish pro-independence supporters and campaigners.Over £18,000 was raised in two short months to allow the production to go ahead starring big names like Elaine C. Smith and Paul James Corrigan.

Now the Hallglen author and playwriter is thrilled the project is up and running and feels that, considering the timing, it was an absolute essential addition to this year’s Fringe.

Alan said: “It’s six weeks to the referendum, and the world is watching Scotland.

“I think if we didn’t have a referendum show at the Edinburgh Festival a month before the vote, that would have been very odd.

“I am a Yes supporter, but sometimes I think that people get tired of what the politicians are saying and I was looking to present the debate in a different way, and a play can do that.

“I was staggered when the donations reached £18,000.

“When we started, there was a £15,000 target, and I thought that that was optimistic.

“But if you want professional people for a four-week show, plus two weeks rehearsals, you have to pay them.

“I’m thrilled with the cast.

“Having Elaine C. Smith say she would do it was a massive endorsement, and I am really excited because she is such a huge name.

“We also have Paul Corrigan who many people know from River City and also two actors who are more known for their theatre work and their strong reputation as stage actors.”

Named as one of the Scotsman’s 12 hot shows for the Fringe, ‘The Pure, The Dead and the Brilliant’ aims to pose pressing question about comtemporary Scotland.

Written by Bissett and directed by Sacha Kyle, the play also stars Michele Gallagher (I, Tommy) and Martin McCormick (Takin’ Over The Asylum).

Together, the cast transform the play into a look at mythology, politics, magic and history.

It started its Auld Reekie run on July 31, and Alan said he has been heartened by the response so far, from people both sides of the fence.

“So far, it’s been amazing,” he said.

“There’s been a great buzz about it.

“In the beginning, I wasn’t sure about making a pro-yes show, but it certainly has not alientated the no voters.

“I know because we take a vote at the show, and we have no voters in the audience.

“I’ve spoken to them afterwards, and they have told me that while they are still no voters, they really enjoyed the show.”

Despite being passionate about which way he would like to see the referendum go, Alan says his focus and hopes for the play was that it be funny and thought-provoking.

He said: “If you’re going to put on a show about politics, you need to entertain 
people.

“It’s already achieved what I wanted for it - to get people thinking.

“I hope it makes people think and it makes them laugh.

“The reviews are not out yet, but I hope the critics like it, but I know audiences like it and that’s important - they are the ones who tell their pals about it.”

The show runs at the Assembly Rooms until August 24, except August 18, at 2.30 p.m.

Tickets cost £15 (£12)