Theatre review: Sunshine on Leith – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday June 13 2022

THREE STARS

This major production of Sunshine on Leith may have originated at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, but it is only fitting that a revival of the hit musical featuring the songs of those Hibs-supporting sometime-Leith-dwellers The Proclaimers should include a run in the capital.

At times the atmosphere in the auditorium resembles the frenzy that greets the King’s legendary annual panto, with the audience chuckling appreciatively at references to local landmarks and singing along wholeheartedly.

The playwright Stephen Greenhorn, who wrote the show for Dundee Rep in 2007, has updated his book to include mention of everything from Brexit to Netflix to Fifty Shades of Grey. In one poignant scene, characters discuss going for a coffee in Jenners, the Princes Street department store that has stood empty since the onset of the pandemic, leading to regretful murmurings in the stalls.

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Review: The Crucible – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Thursday July 11

Four Stars

One of the pleasures of taking in several performances in one stretch at Pitlochry lies in the sheer variety of the summer season repertoire. This year, that sense of variety seems turbocharged, with everything from the musical revival of Summer Holiday to the amiable froth of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit and the heavyweight allegory of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in the mix.

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Review: Blithe Spirit – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Friday June 28 2019

Four Stars 

“The action takes place in the Condomines’ house in Kent” runs the succinct programme note for Gemma Fairlie’s revival of Noël Coward’s “improbable farce”. The period setting is less instantly apparent. As designed by Adrian Rees, the interior of the Condomines’ home is clinical and sparse, with doors, drawers and drinks concealed in the gleaming walls. Until the moment when Eddie (David Rankine), the bumbling servant, searches for music on a MacBook, there are few visual clues as to when the devil we are meant to be.

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Review: Travesties – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Tuesday July 10 2018

Four Stars

At first glance, there appears to be a bulky, Oscar Wilde-shaped hole in Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s summer season programme. Lively, intelligent productions of the great aesthete’s masterpieces, from An Ideal Husband to The Importance of Being Earnest, all directed by Richard Baron, have been among the rural theatre’s more memorable outings in recent years.

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Review: The Ruling Class – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Monday July 31 2017

Three Stars

Peter Barnes’s anarchic satire on privilege and entitlement must have seemed incredibly close to the knuckle when it was first staged at the Nottingham Playhouse in November 1968. The play’s premiere arrived at the end of a year marked by popular uprisings against elites across the globe, from the student protests that brought France to a shuddering halt for a few days in May to the escalation of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, the Prague Spring and the first rumblings of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

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Review: Scrooge! – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Monday December 19 2016

Four Stars

 

One might have assumed that Pitlochry Festival Theatre had exhausted the available supply of festive-themed musicals, following productions in recent years of It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street as well as a couple of outings for the company’s masterful staging of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. It was perhaps inevitable that the theatre in the hills would eventually get around to mounting this chirrupy version of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, based on the 1970 film that starred Albert Finney as the titular moneylender.

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