Welcome! I am a freelance journalist and theatre critic for The Times in Scotland. I also write short fiction, which has been broadcast several times on BBC Radio 4 and published in anthologies such as Out There, Elsewhere, ImagiNation, Gutter, Markings, New Writing Scotland and The Best Gay Stories.
According to the writing partnership of Mikey Burnett and Joe McCann, the idea of setting a comedy-drama in a bookmaker first came to them in 2007. Fifteen years on, the world of the turf accountant has changed beyond recognition. Gone are the smoke-filled betting shops of old, replaced by shiny corporate outlets stuffed with gaming machines, the paper slips and tiny pencils supplanted by online accounts.
The dinner table has been laid, the first bottle has been opened and the audience is about to be served chewy questions of race and white privilege. We are guests in the tastefully appointed, austere home of Charles and Virginia (Matthew Pidgeon and Kate Copeland), a liberal white couple whose wealth has found focus in a foundation for emerging artists. The guest of honour is Charlotte (Estella Daniels), a talented photographer who specialises in images of aggression towards African-Americans.
The prolific playwright, screenwriter, and director debbie tucker green (the lower-case letters are a hallmark) received acclaim for her 2011 play truth and reconciliation, in which victims’ families confronted perpetrators of political violence. hang, first staged at the Royal Court in 2015, imagines a society that has dispensed with restorative justice, opting instead for the death penalty, with victims of crime invited to choose the method of execution.
First published in The Times, Sunday April 10 2022
Nostalgia for the 90s is pervasive at present, and this new musical from the National Theatre of Scotland will be catnip to those who hark back fondly to the decade of New Labour, devolution, Trainspotting and Friends. The production is an adaptation of the 1998 film directed by Peter Mullan: one of a string of Glasgow-set gems from the era that also includes Small Faces and Stella Does Tricks.
First published in The Times, Thursday April 7 2022
Ellen Wilkinson — one of the first female members of parliament — may not have the name recognition of some of her male counterparts, but her life and political career were no less eventful. As the Labour MP for Middlesbrough East from 1924-31, then Jarrow in Tyne and Wear between 1935-47, she organised and participated in the most famous of the “hunger marches” of the 1930s. She rubbed shoulders with Ernest Hemingway during the Spanish Civil War, and later served as a minister in Churchill’s wartime coalition and in the postwar Attlee government.
First published in The Times, Wednesday March 30 2022
Audiences are accustomed to seeing Roald Dahl’s children’s stories on stage. Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were turned into blockbuster musical hits, while David Wood’s faithful adaptations of James and the Giant Peach, The BFG and The Witches are mainstays of the Christmas season.
First published in The Times, Wednesday March 9 2022
The new drama by Zinnie Harris, the award-winning Scottish playwright and director, presents an assortment of characters trying with varying degrees of success to say the unsayable. In the opening sequence Luci (Neve McIntosh) resorts to locking Christopher (Peter Forbes), her husband of 21 years, in their bedroom, with supplies of food and wine, so she can confront him about a suspected affair. In a later scene their daughter Caitlin (Leah Byrne) spins a grotesque and increasingly elaborate lie to reconnect with a former lover, Sally (Saskia Ashdown).
First published in The Times, Saturday March 5 2022
It is a tale as old as theatre itself. Two people, in a lonely place, enjoying a delicate equilibrium, are disturbed by an unexpected knock at the door. In walks an unwelcome figure from the past, an avenging angel or perhaps even Death herself, and the fragile balance of the household is instantly and irretrievably broken.
First published in The Times, Tuesday February 22 2022
We first meet Garry (played by Martin Docherty), the main protagonist and narrator of Eilidh Loan’s big-hearted footballing drama, on his 50th birthday. Judging by the virulence with which he pops his birthday balloons, he’s in no mood to celebrate, preferring to take refuge in happier times and the heady sensations of youth.
First published in The Times, Monday February 7 2022
Anna Girvan’s production for Northern Stage features a protagonist named Griffin, a character called Herbert George and another with a bandaged face, but the nods to HG Wells and his science fiction classic end there. The 1897 novella is only a jumping-off point for a contemporary meditation on social invisibility in its various forms.