Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
Always funny, sometimes smutty, definitely gay.
Sitting on one of the socially-distanced chairs in the gloomy Cavern Club waiting for the show to start, I notice McGhee getting ready. Well, I really notice his outfit: an All Blacks rugby jersey and a kilt. Immediately, they seem like someone who wears everything on their sleeve.
From a writing perspective, McGhee has a really strong set. He frames his narrative chronologically so we can follow along with his journey, and I don’t remember a single joke not landing. He engages with the audience well, confidently searching through them for people who are also from Scotland, from England, or from Immigration – just so he knows who to target certain jokes at, who to leave, and who to shut up in front of (respectively).
McGhee is a strong performer with a likeable persona and bubbly energy. This electricity he has works to his advantage during his set in times where the content could otherwise be a bit of a downer, e.g. him talking about his divorce. I do, however, wonder what the show would be like if McGhee looked for moments to concentrate the energy instead of having it so bubbly all the time. It could be quite a satisfying contrast to how he normally presents his comedy and offer more powerful punchlines when you shoot the energy back in. Sometimes his bubbly, excitable delivery also means we are whisked away from a joke or a setting before, it seems, all of its potential has been found...
Leading on from both of these points, I think that there is a great opportunity for McGhee to engage with physical comedy. Because of how he performs and expresses himself it seems like the guy would be a natural! It’s already fun watching him throwing his arms around, but because he has the same energy more-or-less throughout the whole set it makes the whole show a bit one-note. I would love to see McGhee let some bits rely solely on his strong physicality instead of having his writing take him through the whole show.
Within The Scottish Kiwi there are moments that could have had more practice. There are certain points where McGhee delivers an awesome punchline and then takes a drink, leaving us to bask in it. Very ‘ep, I said that. There you go.’, but in the second half of the performance that doesn’t happen anymore … maybe the drinking after the big punchline is an impulse on the night – then I’d say keep it in! But otherwise it might be something that needs more practice.
All in all I had a great time. Macaulay does a great job at warming up the audience and McGhee leaves me in stitches. This show strikes me as a Netflix special cutting its teeth. Before it can get there, however, McGhee needs to sell enough tickets to pay back the four-hundred-and-something dollars he spent on a dildo (you had to be there).
The Scottish Kiwi is a part of the 2022 Fringe Festival and is on until Friday 11 March across Cavern Club and Fringe Bar. Find your tickets here.