Comedian Billy Connolly is a national treasure in Scotland, and he is very much alive and kicking.
So, the great man, affectionately known as The Big Yin, was a little taken aback when writer Gary McNair asked for his permission for a one man show all about Billy’s life.
“Kin ye nae wait ‘til a’m deid ‘’ cried the Glaswegian gem, before giving his blessing and so “Dear Billy” was born.
The 90 minute show produced by the National Theatre Scotland is made up of stories from men and women who have come across Billy during their lives.
From those who grew up with him, worked with him during his days shipbuilding on the Clyde, to those who are connected to him through his comedy, the tales are all different, some hilarious, some sad.
Directed by Joe Davies, the set alone cries Billy, neon round rimmed glasses, a big banana and of course Billy’s famous boots, all lit up in neon lights.
Fifty tales are told, with Gary taking his time to emphasise the context and emotion of the story and the audience is embraced in a strange world of Billyisms, from the pleasures of eating flumps, to sheep being thrown in the sea.
Gary is joined on stage by musicians Jill O’ Sullivan and Simon Liddell, who create a lovely acoustic soundtrack as the carpet of Scottish life is unravelled.
Chronicled through Billy’s life and taking in his sad battle against Parkinson’s disease, the play is quintessentially Scottish and fired out at a fast speed, which non Scots might find a bit befuddling as the accent gets stronger.
But there is no disguising the humour and joy which Billy has brought the nation through his years of comedy.
And it was touching to hear McNair’s obvious delight at meeting the Big Yin himself. The standing ovation at the end was testament to the poignantly funny show and the vast love Scotland has for its national treasure.
Dear Billy – A Love Letter to The Big Yin finishes its tour on Saturday, June 24th at King’s Theatre, Glasgow. Tickets are still available via www.atgtickets.com.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.