Based on a popular Fife folk song Kelty Clippie is the story of Maggie Blair, a bus clippie, in the early 1970s. There isn’t much of a plot, mostly it’s a series of crude, smutty, slapstick comedy routines, with choreographed dancing and old pop songs. There’s an over-reliance on jokes about Fife locations, and things that are now long-gone lasting forever. There’s a drunk girl who is always coming back from a club or going to it. A couple of old biddies, and a flash couple who went up in the world but don’t fit in.
On the night I saw the show the actors were fighting against a very loud fan, and outside the rain was bucketing. The roads were so slippery that I had fallen over in front of a tram, was dragged to safety by a tourist, and was now sitting in the second row with diluted blood dripping into my shoe. Oddly this made me feel part of the action. The title song had been inspired by wild bus rides past miner’s clubs with the passengers doing party pieces as they made their way home. The stage version captures that haphazard camaraderie, with its cobbled together bus seats for a set, and gutsy performances.
Jacqueline Hannan is fabulous as Maggie. It’s a real music hall, end of the pier, summer season, panto, variety turn. Bold, big-hearted and belting; all vulgarity and glamour. The jokes might be old, but they’re funny. There are a couple of problems. Time slips about, if I hadn’t read that it was set in the early 70s I would have struggled to place the decade. One joke would only work if it was the 90s, and at one point I thought it was night until they were singing ‘Beautiful Sunday’. It needs a stronger narrative, but it’s a quirky, enjoyable show, and a lovely example of a dying art. Go and have your ticket punched twice.