Review: Wonderland – Edinburgh Playhouse

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First published in The Times, Friday January 27 2017

Two Stars

Downtrodden single mother Alice (Kerry Ellis) is having a bad day. Her car has been stolen, she’s lost her house keys and when she arrives late for work her heartless boss fires her. Topping it all off, her ex-husband, for whom she still holds a torch, has been in touch with news of his latest marriage.

 

Clearly, we are not in Lewis Carroll territory, although his iconic characters are nominally present and correct in this contemporary musical update of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, written by Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy, with music by Frank Wildhorn. Their version of Alice sports killer boots and drops into Wonderland, accompanied by her teenage daughter (Naomi Morris) and socially awkward neighbour (Stephen Webb), by way of the out-of-order lift in her dingy high-rise block.

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Review: Grain in the Blood – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Tuesday October 24 2016

Three Stars

This eerie slice of contemporary noir is not what we’ve come to expect from the playwright Rob Drummond. His notable earlier works include Bullet Catch, in which Drummond recreated the classic magic trick with the help of audience participants. In Fidelity, which debuted at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, explored questions of love and monogamy through a Blind Date-style game show format involving single audience members.

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Review: Crude – Shed 36, Port of Dundee

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First published in The Times, Friday October 14 2016

Three Stars

Any mention of North Sea Oil is most likely to bring to mind the city of Aberdeen, which has weathered the ups and downs of the industry for over 40 years. So, it’s refreshing that this ambitious exploration of oil production and its human and environmental impact, is brought to us by Grid Iron Theatre Company from Dundee, a city at the forefront of Scotland’s efforts to secure a slice of the lucrative oil rig decommissioning industry.

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Review: Cock – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Saturday February 13 2016

Three Stars

When Mike Bartlett’s 2009 comedy drama received its first production in New York in 2012, newspaper reviewers and advertisers primly rechristened it The Cockfight Play. Glasgow’s Tron, which is producing the Scottish premiere, seems similarly conflicted about the play’s original title. While the poster depicts a pair of fowls knocking the feathers off each other, the theatre is promoting the show on social media using the hashtag #NotAboutChickens.

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Pardon / In Cuffs – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe

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First published in The Times, Wednesday August 12 2015

Two Stars

As its title implies, crime and punishment are the big subjects at the heart of this new work from Belgium’s SKaGeN theatre company. Performed by a trio of actors on a revolving stage and based on verbatim transcriptions, the piece is structured as a series of interrogations by austere authority figures of criminals whose transgressions range from the pathetic to the unpardonable.

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