My Doric Diary ★★★★☆: A jukebox musical with a Scottish twist

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“Ooh I wunna dance wee somedy. Ah wunna feel the heat wee somedy,” belts 16-year-old Daisy as she dances round her room with a hair-brush microphone. 

The familiar Whitney Houston tune has everyone bobbing in their seats, but the words are strange and unfamiliar to most. She is singing in Doric, an uncommon dialect spoken in the Northeast of Scotland.  

My Doric Diary is a jukebox musical chock full of retro hits with a Scottish twist.  The production was the brainchild of Fraserburgh-born actress Katie Barnett and her musician husband James Siggens. The pair experienced viral fame during lockdown with their popular TikTok series of Doric versions of mainstream songs. 

It’s New Year’s Eve 2010 and 16-year-old Daisy is dying to go to the Fraserburgh Leisure Centre’s annual Hogmanay party. Tragedy strikes when her strict “Grunny” forbids her to go, but when she finds a mysterious cassette player in her room, she is whirled back in time to 1993 where she is allowed an hour to connect with her deceased singer mother. 

The show took place in the intimate setting of the Macrobert Playhouse. The set was completely minimal, often consisting of a single stool and a sparkly New Year’s Eve banner. It was Barnett’s ability to captivate the audience that really brought the production to life as she performed what was practically a one-woman show, only joined on stage by James Siggens on guitar and Andy Manning on piano.

Unconventionally, she completely broke the fourth wall throughout and involved us in the storytelling process, directly warning us that as the only actress she would have to play each and every character in the story.

‘A pop song in your own accent please’ #doric #scots #singingcover

♬ original sound – AyeTunes!
Barnett and Siggens’ Doric TikTok’s went viral

Her ability to switch flawlessly between different characters was astounding and her hilarious portrayal of Daisy’s “wicked” old-fashioned Grandma was met with constant audience laughter throughout.

Although at first the use of karaoke hits like Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ came off as a tad corny. However, Barnett’s flawless and powerful vocals soon left you wanting to hear more and the band kept toes tapping throughout.

The use of Doric lyrics often was used for humorous effect but in more reflective moments also made the songs much more poetic and lyrical. The ending rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow could have been a cliché, but was surprisingly goosebump-worthy.

The musical’s one weakness lay in the fact that it tried to tackle so much within the space of an hour. It left some aspects of the plot often seeming a little abrupt. Sudden developments, such as Daisy being sent back in time, were often paired with Barnett exclaiming “Anything can happen in the theatre!”. At times this didn’t quite work.

That being said, the musical was still a powerful and uplifting celebration of Doric identity. It struck the perfect balance between comedy and more heartfelt moments.

Barnett completely mastered the complexities of the teenage Daisy. She seems silly and energetic, but is struggling internally from her mother’s death and the tense relationship with her granny. The production’s exploration of grief, love between family, and the pain of letting go was what elevated it from an entertaining hour of fun to a much more impactful and relatable triumph.

Featured Image Credit: Macrobert Arts Centre

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