Review: Travels with My Aunt – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Tuesday May 9 2017

Three Stars

Graham Greene described his 1969 novel, Travels with My Aunt, as “the only book I have written just for the fun of it.” Indeed, there appears to be little urgent reason to revive the acclaimed theatrical adaptation, written by Giles Havergal, the former artistic director of the Citizens Theatre, other than for its sheer entertainment value. The play, first staged in 1989, and still regularly performed, can certainly draw appreciative laughter, even if it shows its age.

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Review: Charlie Sonata – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Friday May 5 2017

Four Stars

Sandy Grierson is fast becoming the go-to actor for offbeat dramatic roles in Scottish theatre. The titles alone of his recent work hint at his versatility. In the past two years he has played the antihero of Alasdair Gray’s Lanark: A Life in Three Acts at the Edinburgh International Festival and the iconoclast musician in The Beautiful Cosmos of Ivor Cutler for the National Theatre of Scotland.

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Review: Monstrous Bodies – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Thursday April 27 2017

Three Stars

The tale of how Mary Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein in a waking dream while staying at Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816 is almost as familiar as the plot of the novel itself. Less well known is the author’s connection with the city of Dundee, where the 14-year-old Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin) spent several months recuperating from illness in 1812.

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Review: East is East – Northern Stage, Newcastle

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First published in The Times, Thursday April 27 2017

Four Stars

Theatre directors are always faced with a dilemma when reviving a play whose reputation has been eclipsed by a successful film adaptation. To what degree should they acknowledge the iconic imagery of the movie while seeking to remind audiences of the story’s theatrical origins?

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Review: Out of This World – Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling

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First published in The Times, Wednesday April 26 2017

Two Stars

Mark Murphy, the choreographer and director of V-Tol Dance Company, is known for large-scale theatrical events, including the closing ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, as well as intimate, text-based plays, such as his two-hander Night Shift. His latest work, co-commissioned by the Macrobert and Sadler’s Wells, combines spectacle and storytelling to explore the chaotic inner workings of a woman in a medically-induced coma.

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Review: And Then Come the Nightjars – Byre Theatre, St Andrews

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First published in The Times, Monday April 17 2017

Three Stars

Bea Roberts’s award-winning two-hander, which debuted at London’s Theatre 503 in 2015, is that rare beast: an unapologetic lament for a pastoral way of life that is fast disappearing. It is fitting that this first major tour of the play, which touches upon the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001, should be playing to rural audiences, from Cumbria to Crieff. A drama with a cattle farmer at its centre was always going to have its opening night in Scotland at the Byre.

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Review: A Number – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Tuesday April 11 2017

Four Stars

It is so rare to see revivals of the work of Caryl Churchill on Scottish stages that two productions in the space of a week feels like an embarrassment of riches. The prolific, versatile and endlessly experimental playwright’s two-hander Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?, which implicitly explores the so-called “special relationship” between Britain and the United States through a conversation between male lovers, has recently completed a week-long run in the Circle Studio at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre.

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