Theatre review: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Wednesday March 30 2022

FOUR STARS

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 PeachThe BFG and The Witches are mainstays of the Christmas season.

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Review: Christmas Dinner – Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday December 13 2021

FOUR STARS

Amid this year’s seasonal feast of pantomimes, musicals and comedy shows, the Lyceum, Edinburgh, is serving something altogether different. Christmas Dinner is a new play — written by Robert Alan Evans and produced in association with Catherine Wheels, a leading children’s company — that seeks to celebrate no less than the redemptive power of theatre itself.

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Review: A Christmas Carol – Tramway, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Friday December 10 2021

FIVE STARS

Among the seasonal traditions that people are once again enjoying this year, a return visit to the Citizens Theatre Company’s A Christmas Carol will be high on many people’s lists. Dominic Hill’s production, based on the lyrical adaption by Neil Bartlett, dates all the way back to 2014, but, like a trip to the St Enoch Christmas Market, is well worth a repeat experience.

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Theatre review: The Wind in the Willows – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Thursday July 15 2021

FOUR STARS

Could there be a more superlative setting for a production of The Wind in the Willows than the banks of the Tummel? There have of course been numerous stage adaptations of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, but few can boast an actual riverbank as the backdrop to the adventures of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad.

Elizabeth Newman and Ben Occhipinti’s production, from a new script by Mark Powell, stays faithful to the spirit if not the letter of the original, sustaining a good balance between action and hi-jinks with some quieter, more reflective scenes. Powell makes a few tweaks to the story, adding extra dimensions to the conflict between the four chums and the Wild-Wooders and in the process touching upon land use and ecology, creating a timely edge to the piece.

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Review: The Secret Garden – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

First published in The Times, Wednesday February 26 2020

Four Stars

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel was only a minor success when it was first published in 1911, but its reputation has since eclipsed that of her other books for children. The young protagonists are gratifyingly complex, there is a gothic edge to the atmosphere and there is something timeless in the story’s themes of healing and rejuvenation.

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Review: This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing – Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy

First published in The Times, Tuesday May 21 2019

Three Stars

The power of three is pervasive in fairytales. Whoever heard of two magic wishes, or a beginning and middle with no end? It is no accident that the Wicked Queen makes a trio of attempts to kill Snow White or that the miller’s daughter tries three times to guess Rumpelstiltskin’s name.

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Review: Small Wonders – The Warehouse, Elizafield, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Thursday May 16 2019

Four Stars

The wonders of the title may be small in size, but the themes underpinning Punchdrunk’s show are hardly insignificant. Memory and the imagination, old age and loss are the heavyweight subjects explored in the one-hour promenade piece, albeit engagingly pitched at children of primary school age (and their grown-ups).

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Review: The Snow Queen – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Monday December 10 2018

Four Stars

The Snow Queen is no stranger to Dundee Rep. The most recent production of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, in 2012, starred the aptly named Emily Winter in the role of the icy monarch, negotiating a pine forest on stilts.

 

As one of the longer-serving members of the Rep ensemble, Winter also appears in this latest incarnation, though this time in the role of the Summer Princess, ruler of a balmy, fruit pastille-coloured region the heroine Gerda (Chiara Sparkes) has to pass through on her way to the frozen north.

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Review: Stuff – Brunton, Musselburgh

First published in The Times, Tuesday October 30 2018

Three Stars

The world premiere of this play from Sylvian Productions is far from the first time that the subject of compulsive hoarding has been addressed in theatre. Only a few months ago, Su Pollard, the comedian, appeared in a one-woman show, Harpy, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe playing a character whose chronic inability to give up her possessions had provoked the wrath of her neighbours.

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Reviews: Eddie and the Slumber Sisters – Corn Exchange, Haddington; Baba Yaga – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Saturday May 12 2018

Eddie and the Slumber Sisters: Three Stars

Baba Yaga: Four Stars

Catherine Wheels, the leading purveyors of children’s theatre in Scotland, are drawn to subjects other companies would flinch from tackling. Their acclaimed show, The Voice Thief, drew on horror and sci-fi tropes in its depiction of patriarchal tyranny and suppression, while HUFF, created with Shona Reppe and Andy Manley, presented the Three Little Pigs’ house as a crime scene.

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