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”
First published in The Times, Monday September 27 2021
This is not the first time that Peter Arnott, the prolific Scottish dramatist, has explored the Tay Bridge disaster of December 28, 1879. Tay Bridge, his 2019 play, gave voice to some of those who lost their lives when the original Tay Rail Bridge collapsed during a storm, killing all onboard the Burntisland-to-Dundee train, which was crossing at the time. The series of vivid monologues combined to create a broader picture of late 19th century Scottish society.
Continue reading “Theatre review: The Signalman – Perth Theatre”
First published in The Times, Thursday March 12 2020
There is so much going in this collaboration between Theatre Gu Leòr and the band Whyte that it comes as something of a surprise to realise that the show’s running time is a tight 75 minutes. Maim blends movement, story vignettes and multimedia with the band’s characteristic fusion of electronica and Gaelic song to explore life in Scotland’s far-flung communities, notably the fragile status of the Gaelic language and culture. The result is a unique hybrid that works its spell slowly, exerting a powerful pull.
Continue reading “Review: Maim – Tron Theatre, Glasgow”
First published in The Times, Monday March 9 2020
Creating a truly original production of Oscar Wilde’s great comedy is no easy task. Its very familiarity is a major part of its popularity. Much of the dialogue is so axiomatic that you can almost hear the audience pre-empting the actors.
Continue reading “Review: The Importance of Being Earnest – Perth Theatre”
First published in The Times, Thursday March 5 2020
On paper this gender-swapped version of Bertolt Brecht’s 1940 comedy looks intriguing. The novelist Denise Mina adapts, with the redoubtable Elaine C Smith in the lead and the award-winning Turkish director Murat Daltaban at the helm. Yet while the production features some fine flourishes, there is no escaping the overall sense of a messy and incoherent assemblage.
Continue reading “Review: Mrs Puntila and Her Man Matti – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Thursday October 17 2019
It seems that you can’t move these days for stage adaptations of literary works. A familiar title is a strong draw, whether it’s the dramatisation of Matt Haig’s mental health memoir Reasons to Stay Alive or the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Red Dust Road, which just completed its Scottish tour.
Continue reading “Review: The Panopticon – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Tuesday October 15 2019
There is a moment early in this silver-screen tribute to Billy Connolly in which he reveals, with a certain amount of bemusement, that his most famous comedy routines are to be published in a forthcoming book. “It doesn’t make sense,” he says. “They don’t have a beginning, middle and an end. Sometimes the punch line comes at the beginning.”
Continue reading “Review: Billy Connolly – The Sex Life of Bandages”
First published in The Times, Monday October 7 2019
When the BBC Scotland sitcom Still Game bowed out this year its writers Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill left fans in no doubt that this was the end for Jack Jarvis, Victor McDade and the Craiglang posse. Not since the final episode of Blake’s 7, in 1981, has a television series more ruthlessly dispatched most of its starring cast.
Continue reading “Review: Still Game: The Final Farewell – SSE Hydro, Glasgow”
First published in The Times, Monday September 23 2019
By any standards Russell Howard is a megastar. The atmosphere in the 13,000-seat arena at this early show in the stand-up’s year-long international tour was more akin to a rock concert than a comedy gig. Those little-known turns Cher and Björk, who will play the venue in the coming weeks, will be lucky to attract the same deafening levels of excitement.
Continue reading “Review: Russell Howard –SEC Hydro, Glasgow”
First published in The Times, Monday March 25 2019
A Doll’s House by Ibsen is one of those theatrical gifts that keep on giving. The play about a middle-class woman, Nora Helmer, who comes to realise that her seemingly perfect marriage is a pretty cage, has been endlessly updated since its premiere in 1879. Lucas Hnath’s sequel, A Doll’s House, Part 2, which speculates on what happened to Nora after she closed the door on her old life, opened on Broadway in 2017.
Continue reading “Review: Nora: A Doll’s House – Tramway, Glasgow”