Theatre review: Orphans – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Sunday April 10 2022

FOUR STARS

Nostalgia for the 90s is pervasive at present, and this new musical from the National Theatre of Scotland will be catnip to those who hark back fondly to the decade of New Labour, devolution, Trainspotting and Friends. The production is an adaptation of the 1998 film directed by Peter Mullan: one of a string of Glasgow-set gems from the era that also includes Small Faces and Stella Does Tricks.

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Theatre review: Red Ellen – Northern Stage, Newcastle

First published in The Times, Thursday April 7 2022

FOUR STARS

Ellen Wilkinson — one of the first female members of parliament — may not have the name recognition of some of her male counterparts, but her life and political career were no less eventful. As the Labour MP for Middlesbrough East from 1924-31, then Jarrow in Tyne and Wear between 1935-47, she organised and participated in the most famous of the “hunger marches” of the 1930s. She rubbed shoulders with Ernest Hemingway during the Spanish Civil War, and later served as a minister in Churchill’s wartime coalition and in the postwar Attlee government.

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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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Theatre review: The Scent of Roses – Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Wednesday March 9 2022

TWO STARS

The new drama by Zinnie Harris, the award-winning Scottish playwright and director, presents an assortment of characters trying with varying degrees of success to say the unsayable. In the opening sequence Luci (Neve McIntosh) resorts to locking Christopher (Peter Forbes), her husband of 21 years, in their bedroom, with supplies of food and wine, so she can confront him about a suspected affair. In a later scene their daughter Caitlin (Leah Byrne) spins a grotesque and increasingly elaborate lie to reconnect with a former lover, Sally (Saskia Ashdown).

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Theatre review: The Children – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Saturday March 5 2022

FOUR STARS

It is a tale as old as theatre itself. Two people, in a lonely place, enjoying a delicate equilibrium, are disturbed by an unexpected knock at the door. In walks an unwelcome figure from the past, an avenging angel or perhaps even Death herself, and the fragile balance of the household is instantly and irretrievably broken.

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Theatre review: Moorcroft – Tron, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday February 22 2022

THREE STARS

We first meet Garry (played by Martin Docherty), the main protagonist and narrator of Eilidh Loan’s big-hearted footballing drama, on his 50th birthday. Judging by the virulence with which he pops his birthday balloons, he’s in no mood to celebrate, preferring to take refuge in happier times and the heady sensations of youth. 

Pic: John Johnston
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Theatre review: The Invisible Man – Northern Stage, Newcastle

First published in The Times, Monday February 7 2022

THREE STARS

Anna Girvan’s production for Northern Stage features a protagonist named Griffin, a character called Herbert George and another with a bandaged face, but the nods to HG Wells and his science fiction classic end there. The 1897 novella is only a jumping-off point for a contemporary meditation on social invisibility in its various forms.

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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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Theatre review: Life is a Dream – Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Wednesday November 3 2021

Four Stars

Jo Clifford’s translation of Life is a Dream was originally due to be staged at the Lyceum back in May 2020. In the intervening period, when at times everyday life has taken on the character of nightmare, Pedro Calderón’s classic of the Spanish Golden Age has only acquired new potency.

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Theatre Review: The Tempest – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Monday November 1 2021

THREE STARS

It is fitting that this new production of Shakespeare’s swansong should be opening on Halloween weekend when ghosts and monsters are out in force wandering the dark streets.

The show, adapted and directed by Andy Arnold, has a strongly Gothic flavour, with Prospero’s cell a forbidding library topped with lancet windows and characters moving in and out of the shadows.

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