It’s Burns but not as you know it

With Burns Night just around the corner, there’s one particular theatre group on hand to get you well and truly acquainted with the works of dear Rab.

Step forward, IDEOMs who have a number of Border engagements in their diary for the coming month, starting with an appearance at Selkirk’s Bowhill Theatre on Saturday.

But although all of their shows include the obligatory feast of haggis, neeps and tatties , don’t go expecting any run of the mill Burns Supper.

The cast for ‘Not Another Burns Supper’, which begins its run in the region at Paxton House on Burns Night (Saturday, January 25) and ‘Best Laid Schemes’, debuting in Selkirk, are all huge fans of the Bard, but they like to honour him in a less straight laced fashion.

“It’s all a bit tongue in cheek,” John Nichol told ‘WOW’.

“We don’t do any speeches- there’s no ‘Toast to the Lassies’ or ‘Immortal Memory’, we like to do things a bit differently.

“No disrespect to any of the local Burns clubs but we tend not to use the same Burns words that are trotted out supper after supper.

“There is such a wealth of Burns material that never really sees the light of day which is a real shame as there’s a few hidden beauties.”

‘Not Another Burns Supper’- which John assured me meant different from the norm, rather than ‘oh no not another one’- isn’t a performance as such.

“It’s more of a party, to go alongside the supper that’s going on on that particular evening.

“But we don’t do all the work; there’s plenty of audience participation involved.

“We get people to take a part in ‘Tam o’Shanter’ and join in with the songs.”

It’s not just IDEOM’s approach to reciting Burns that is unconventional. They have also become known for donning some rather interesting costumes when imparting the words Scotland’s most famous son.

“We dress up as dogs, sheep, horses you name it- things can get really mental on stage!

“We’ve taken our shows to the Edinburgh Fringe and they always go down really well. I had one foreign lady come up to me after one performance and she told me that although she didn’t understand any of the words, from our costumes and the way we put the words across she knew exactly what we were saying.

“We don’t paraphrase at all but what we do is make Burns more easy to digest, more accessible.”

Come next Saturday, it won’t just be proud Scots celebrating the life and works of the poetic great; people the world over will be toasting Burns in their own way and John said it was easy to see why his words have such widespread appeal.

“Burns was such a great observer of life and the human condition.

“He didn’t just speak to Scotland, he spoken to the whole of mankind.

“Scots are immensely proud to call him one of their own. If he was alive today I’m not entirely sure what he’d make of the ‘Yes’ campaign. I think he’d be in the same boat as a lot of us in that we’re not quite sure if we want to make the break.”

*’Best Laid Schemes’, based on Burns’ ‘To A Mouse’, is on at Bowhill Theatre, Selkirk on Saturday, January 18;

Smailholm Village Hall on Sunday, January 19; Caddonfoot Village Hall on Friday, January 24; Coldstream Community Centre on Saturday, February 8 and County Hotel, Selkirk on Sunday, February 9.

‘Not Another Burns Supper’ is on at Paxton House on Saturday, January 25; The Waterwheel, Selkirk on Sunday, January 26; Coldingham Hall Theatre on Saturday, February 1 and The Gordon Arms Hotel, Yarrow on Sunday, February 2.