First published in The Times, Monday October 15 2018
Each instalment in Oliver Emanuel’s trilogy exploring the forgotten voices of the First World War has felt distinctive, both in focus and atmosphere. Indeed, this concluding part, Dusk, is the only one of the sequence to be staged in a traditional proscenium-arch theatre. Dawn, which reimagined the stories of three young men shot for cowardice or desertion, took place in a converted barn on a Perthshire farm, while Day, which gave voice to women munitions workers and suffragettes, premiered in a room in the city’s Station Hotel.
First published in The Times, Friday October 12 2018
It is fitting that Clare Duffy’s play should open in the week that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of catastrophic global warming unless governments, corporations and individuals take unprecedented action. Environmental activism, the fate of the planet and personal responsibility are the big themes Duffy has set out to explore here.
First published in The Times, Monday October 8 2018
A first glance at Michael Taylor’s minutely detailed one-room set raises fears that we will be trapped for 90 minutes in the limited territory of kitchen-sink realism. However, as the lights go up we realise there is something not quite right about this crowded picture. For starters, this is a room with no discernible door or windows. Odder still, the kitchen sink contains neither bowl nor dishes but a record player stacked with 45s.
Taking its cue from the opening lines of Shakespeare’s comedy — “If music be the food of love, play on” — musical composition and performance are at the heart of Wils Wilson’s production of Twelfth Night for the Lyceum and Bristol Old Vic. A battered grand piano is a prominent feature of Ana Inés Jabares-Pita’s country-house set and several of the performers double as musicians, including Meilyr Jones, the Welsh singer-songwriter and the composer for the show.
First published in The Times, Tuesday September 18 2018
When Rona Munro’s The Last Witch debuted at the Royal Lyceum as part of the 2009 Edinburgh International Festival, the play, inspired by the true story of the last woman to be burned for heresy in Scotland, got lost in an over-the-top staging that included elaborate multimedia, sound and special effects.
First published in The Times, Monday September 10 2018
The autumn theatre season has rolled around again, but for Dominic Hill and the Citizens Theatre it is far from business as usual. Cyrano de Bergerac is the company’s first production since taking up residence at nearby Tramway while its Gorbals HQ undergoes renovations. Hill’s take on Edmond Rostand’s 1897 verse drama, based on the celebrated 1992 Scots translation by Edwin Morgan, is an ambitious team effort, co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Lyceum, that will tour stages around the country.
First published in The Times, Monday September 3 2018
There are moments during this production of Anne Downie’s oft-revived play about a family of Scottish travellers in the 1930s when the audience appears to be lost in a haze of nostalgia. Mentions of pearl fishing on Speyside, neep gathering in Angus and berry picking in Perthshire are met with appreciative murmurs. When the nine-strong ensemble performs Adam McNaughtan’s song, which gives the play its title, everyone sings along, word-perfect.