King-size personality steals the show


Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 12:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 11:26 am

It is estimated that between 100,000 and 500,000 people were killed in Uganda during Idi Amin’s rule of repression and persecution in the 1970s.

The Last King of Scotland depicts these times through the fictional story of a Scottish doctor who got close to the dictator after being appointed his personal physician.

Amin is such a giant personality in every sense of the word that the scenes where he is not on stage seem a little flat.

It’s a peach of a part which Tobi Bamtefa grabs with alacrity, not only capturing the mannerisms but conveying the amiable jollity that can switch in an instance to menacing anger. By contrast Daniel Portman as the doctor must do his best with a character who is passive and an enigma even to himself.

The interaction between the two is where the story catches fire and throughout Gbolahan Obisesan’s production the more intimate scenes are most effective. Unlike, for example, the chorus of TV reporters charting events.

Giles Foden’s novel about events in the Seventies was published in 1998 and the film came out in 2006 so you wonder why an adaptation by Steve Waters should come to the stage now. It’s about a leader who came to power on a wave of popularity and felt he could say and do what he liked, at one point accusing his critics of spreading fake news, but surely the consequences won't have parallels today, will they?

Ian Soutar