Burns would have felt at home at the County

Borders theatre company Ideoms finished their 16-show tour across the south of Scotland of Honest Poverty – a collection of songs and poetry by Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns – at Selkirk’s County Hotel last weekend.

Actor John Nichol, accompanied by musicians Hilary Bell, Ross Milligan, and Jenni Borthwick, invited the audience to sing for their supper of haggis, neeps and tatties, and gently dragooned them into addressing the haggis and providing the sound effects for Tam O’ Shanter.

The programme included some of Burns’ most loved songs: We’re a’ Noddin’, Landlady Count the Lawin, Scotch Drink, The Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie, and a selection from his pithy Epitaphs.

“Burns would have felt totally at home,” wrote one reviewer, Ann Dyce. “He was not a memory, but a presence with us.

“With a performer of the calibre John Nichol, it would be difficult to go wrong. He seems a natural, and has the advantage of being brought up with the soft lowland tongue of the Borders. Nothing in his delivery strikes a false note.

“The musicianship could not have been bettered.”