Review: Cockpit – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Friday October 13 2017

Four Stars

The promotional image for this revival of Bridget Boland’s Cockpit is a frenzied blue scribble in the middle of the map of Europe. The simple image encapsulates the impossible task – depicted in the play – of returning displaced peoples to their countries of origins in the aftermath of World War Two, yet it also speaks eloquently of the inadequacies of the nation state in 2017. Boland’s script feels so up-to-date that it inspires repeated glances at the programme notes to double check that it really does date back to 1948.

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Review: The Macbeths – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday October 9 2017

Three Stars

One can’t help but wonder whether this abridged version of the Scottish Play is the kind of thing Shakespeare would be writing if he were embarking on his career in an era dominated by small-scale studio shows. Frances Poet and Dominic Hill’s adaptation strips the tragedy down to its essentials, creating an intense domestic two-hander that requires its actors (Charlene Boyd and Keith Fleming) to divest themselves of everything but raw emotion.

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Review: Rocket Post! – Platform, Easterhouse

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First published in The Times, Saturday September 30 2017

Three Stars

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.

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Review: A Streetcar Named Desire – Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling

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First published in The Times, Friday September 15 2017

Two Stars

The Scottish company Rapture Theatre, which specialises in revivals of classic plays, has mainly focused in the past couple of years on the great works of the American stage. After a production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons and a triumphant imagining of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? it was inevitable that the company, led by artistic director Michael Emans, would get around to staging Tennessee Williams’s most celebrated drama.

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Review: Europe – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

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First published in The Times, Saturday September 9 2017

Three Stars

What could be timelier, in this era of Brexit, mass migration and right-wing populism, than a revival of David Greig’s play about borders, identity and the perceived threat from immigrants? Europe, one of the playwright’s earliest successes, was first performed at the Traverse a quarter of a century ago, yet its portrayal of a rundown railway station in a small European town, haunted by refugees and dejected locals, might have been dreamed-up yesterday.

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Review: August: Osage County – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Saturday September 2 2017

Four Stars

In this era of 90-minute plays, a three-and-a-half hour drama feels like a real theatrical banquet. August: Osage County, Tracy Letts’s multi award-winning play, which made its Broadway debut in 2008, features all the bristling dialogue and steady ratcheting-up of tension found in great American stage works such as Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Yet, Letts’s family saga, with its large cast of dysfunctional characters, multiple plot strands, twists and revelations, is also unapologetically entertaining, like a soap opera only speeded-up.

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Review: Venus and Adonis – C Primo, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Saturday August 26 2017

Four Stars

Published in 1593, the narrative poem Venus and Adonis was a bestseller and the work that made Shakespeare’s name. The Bard obviously intended it to be read rather than performed on stage, but the actor Christopher Hunter finds an electrifying new form for the poem in this small gem of a Fringe show.

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