Theatre review: Noughts & Crosses – York Theatre Royal

First published in The Times, Friday September 23 2022


It is now 20 years since the first of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series of books for young adults was published. The intervening years have only made her vision of a racially segregated society, in which the white Noughts are subordinate to the ruling black Crosses, even more vital, not to mention ripe for adaptation. A second series of the BBC dramatisation screened this year, while Sabrina Mahfouz’s theatrical version, first staged in 2019, is set to tour until next April.

Continue reading “Theatre review: Noughts & Crosses – York Theatre Royal”

Theatre review: Sister Radio – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Thursday September 1 2022


Pitlochry Festival Theatre has opened the doors on its smart 172-seater studio, not with fanfare and pageantry, but with a play of remarkable stillness and restraint. Sara Shaarawi’s two-hander about a pair of Iranian-born sisters sharing a flat in Edinburgh over a period of some 40 years, is unafraid to dwell on the silences, comfortable and uncomfortable, that open up between these two women at various points in their life.

Continue reading “Theatre review: Sister Radio – Pitlochry Festival Theatre”

Theatre review: The Comedy of Errors – Live at No 40, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Wednesday August 31 2022


The Comedy of Errors is widely considered to be the Bard’s first comedy but we find in this early work the qualities the world would come to identify as quintessentially Shakespearean. While it may lack the thematic depth of The Tempest, his swansong, it is interesting to note that both plays feature a shipwreck that leads to much reversal and mistaken identity when the survivors are washed ashore.

Continue reading “Theatre review: The Comedy of Errors – Live at No 40, Glasgow”

Edinburgh review: A Little Life – Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Monday August 22 2022


The Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove is renowned for his stark, uncompromising productions of classic plays, from Greek to Renaissance tragedies and, memorably, works by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. His latest project is an adaptation of a more recent literary phenomenon, A Little Life by the American novelist Hanya Yanagihara, which was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2015.

Continue reading “Edinburgh review: A Little Life – Festival Theatre”

Edinburgh review: Medea – The Hub

First published in The Times, Monday August 15 2022


Liz Lochhead’s celebrated adaptation of Euripides first took Edinburgh by storm in 2001 in an award-winning production by Theatre Babel at the Assembly Rooms, with Maureen Beattie in the title role. It has taken more than 20 years for the play to make the short journey from New Town to Old, and from the Fringe to the international festival, courtesy of Michael Boyd’s revival for the National Theatre of Scotland.

Continue reading “Edinburgh review: Medea – The Hub”

Edinburgh review: Cassie Workman: Aberdeen – Just the Tonic Nucleus

First published in The Times, Friday August 12 2022


Edinburgh may be sweltering in the glare of a heatwave, but in the main room of the Charteris Centre (temporary home of Just the Tonic) we are in rain-soaked Aberdeen. Not to be confused with its Scottish namesake, the industrial city in the Pacific Northwest is notorious as the crime capital of Washington state and was once nicknamed “the hellhole of the Pacific”. It has also produced a startling number of artists and musicians, most notably Kurt Cobain of the rock band Nirvana.

Continue reading “Edinburgh review: Cassie Workman: Aberdeen – Just the Tonic Nucleus”

Edinburgh review: Blood Harmony – Traverse Theatre

First published in The Times, Wednesday August 10 2022


Three sisters gather in their childhood home following the death of their mother, to bid farewell, tie up loose ends and hunt for a missing will. There are long-held grievances to unpack and sort through, along with mum’s belongings.

The disparate siblings navigate their grief in different ways. Anna (Philippa Hogg), the eldest, newly returned from the US, is in practical mode, making plans and taking charge, much to the irritation of middle sister Maia (Keshini Misha), a self-described “hot mess”, who couch-surfs and drifts between jobs.

Continue reading “Edinburgh review: Blood Harmony – Traverse Theatre”

Edinburgh review: Counting and Cracking – Lyceum Theatre

First published in The Times, Wednesday August 10 2022


A stage epic is a rare beast in Edinburgh, where audiences are accustomed to shows of one hour tops in makeshift venues. Counting and Cracking is novelistic in its scope and ambition, featuring several storylines that sprawl over two continents and nearly half a century. Its three-and-a-half-hour running time goes by in a blink.

Continue reading “Edinburgh review: Counting and Cracking – Lyceum Theatre”

Edinburgh review: Rajesh and Naresh – Summerhall

First published in The Times, Tuesday August 9 2022


This romantic comedy about two men, one a British-Indian, the other a Mumbai cricket-bat craftsman, is so sweet and sincere that you almost overlook its slightly rough edges. Rajesh (Brahmdeo Shannon Ramana) is a smooth, handsome Londoner torn between a domineering mother and a demanding job while tentatively looking for love on dating apps and out on the scene.

Continue reading “Edinburgh review: Rajesh and Naresh – Summerhall”

Edinburgh review: Boris the Third – Pleasance Courtyard

First published in The Times, Tuesday August 9 2022


As things stand, we don’t know precisely how the final chapter in the saga of the prime minister will play out. In some ways an X-Men-style origin story seems surplus to requirements: there has long been a prurient fascination with Boris Johnson’s backstory, and his shambling ascent to the highest office in the land.

Continue reading “Edinburgh review: Boris the Third – Pleasance Courtyard”