First published in The Times, Wednesday December 20 2017
It would be fair to say that stage musicals inspired by animated films have something of a chequered history. The experimental director and designer Julie Taymor gave Disney’s screen-to-stage version of The Lion King a truly theatrical treatment that still stands up 18 years on from its premiere. Other shows from the same stable, including lavish productions of Tarzan and The Little Mermaid, failed to exert the same grip on the public imagination.
First published in The Times, Tuesday December 12 2017
There was drama on and offstage at the opening performance of Perth’s pantomime. Ten minutes before the finale, a few too many puffs of smoke triggered the newly refurbishment theatre’s fire alarm system, dispatching cast, crew and audience onto the High Street for an impromptu second interval. Everyone involved took the disruption in good grace. The fire fighters were even called onstage to take a bow when the action resumes.
First published in The Times, Tuesday December 5 2017
In true Wonderland style, the sign above the bar at Northern Stage reads: “We’re all mad here!” Yet the young audience members who have gone to the trouble of dressing up in spotless pinafores and Alice bands look out of step with what’s happening onstage. This festive show may share its title with the enduring classic but its raucous tone is a world away from Lewis Carroll.
First published in The Times, Monday December 4 2017
There are a couple of golden rules that must be observed when it comes to staging a winning Christmas show. The first is never to forget the importance of a good story, simply yet effectively told in theatrical form, and in Stuart Paterson’s enduring adaptation of Cinderella, Dominic Hill, the director, and his team at the Citizens are working from a copper-bottomed classic.
First published in The Times, Friday December 1 2017
A dramatic reimagining of The Arabian Nights is an intriguing departure from the usual seasonal theatrical fare, even if several of the tales featured in Suhayla El-Bushra’s witty, intricate adaptation – including those of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin and the tales of Sinbad the Sailor – are often discovered by young audiences in the form of Christmas shows.
First published in The Times, Saturday September 30 2017
A rocket filled with letters fired from one island to another sounds like the premise for an offbeat fairy tale or children’s fantasy. The image is a resonant one, combining benign public service with a technology more commonly used in warfare. The idea is all the more intriguing when you consider that Lewis Hetherington’s new play for young people is based on true events.
The ability to transform everyday objects into the stuff of magical adventures is the very essence of imaginative play. An empty cardboard box becomes a pirate ship. A nailbrush zooms along the side of the bathtub, becoming a train speeding along the track. A courageous wooden spoon takes on a fire breathing washing up bottle in a battle for dominance over the kitchen table.