The Last Queen of Scotland

A story about identity, belonging and adapting to new cultures makes for compelling viewing

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Last Queen of Scotland
Published 12 Aug 2017

In August 1972, Ugandan president Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of 80,000 Asians from the country, giving them only 90 days and around £7 in their pockets to make their journey. The Last Queen of Scotland, a new semi-autobiographical play by Jaimini Jethwa more than four years in the making, tells the story of a family who came to the UK and settled in Dundee – and the daughter's desire to find out more about their history.

Rehanna MacDonald shines as Jaimini, bringing depth and sparkle to her portrayal of a young woman trying to make sense of her place in the world (though the broad Dundee dialect and pace of delivery causes some of the speech to get a little lost). The play is interweaved with talk of Amin, who was fixated with Scotland – wearing kilts, giving his children Scottish names, even declaring himself king. In turn, Jaimini becomes obsessed with Amin, seeing him everywhere. Eventually, she decides she needs to go back to Uganda to trace the path her family took when she was a child.

It's a story about Scotland, about immersing yourself in new cultures, about identity and belonging, and Jethwa expertly conjures everything from a Dundee nightclub to a bustling Ugandan street. There's atmospheric music sung live by composer and performer Patricia Panther (of Glasgow Girls fame), who occasionally interacts with Jaimini but is largely separate. This makes it a little disjointed in parts, but The Last Queen of Scotland covers a piece of history that's little talked about, and it's a compelling watch.