Review: The Winter’s Tale – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday February 17 2017

Three Stars

The perennial problem in staging The Winter’s Tale is how to realise credibly its time-jumps and uncomfortable emotional leaps, not to mention the more fantastical elements in the story. “Exit, pursued by a bear” – perhaps the most famous stage direction in theatre history – is only one of several logistical challenges posed by the bard in this late play.


Max Webster, the director of this production for the Royal Lyceum, rejoices in Shakespeare’s dismantling of the conventions of dramatic storytelling, exhibiting a childlike delight in the fundamentals of putting on other people’s clothes and making up worlds. A kingdom is depicted through the use of paper crowns and a plywood castle. At one point the ensemble rolls out a carpet of grass with the words “scene change” scribbled on its underside. The vertical shutters that open and close on the scenes at the court of King Leontes (John Michie) frame proceedings in the style of a letterbox movie screen.

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Review: The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Tuesday September 22 2015

Four Stars

When John McGrath’s landmark political drama debuted in a small venue in Aberdeen in 1973, the effects of the discovery of North Sea Oil on life in the Highlands were only just beginning to be felt. Forty years on, Joe Douglas’s joyous revival for Dundee Rep subtly updates the script to include references to the independence referendum and the current debate on land ownership, but it’s remarkably faithful to the substance and raucous spirit of the original.

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