Review: The Lying Kind – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday July 10

Two Stars

A few lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, describing a world whose seasons are in disarray, perfectly encapsulate the experience of seeing theatre in Scotland at present: “The spring, the summer, the childing autumn, angry winter change their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world, by their increase, now knows not which is which.”

 

Not only is Pitlochry Festival Theatre currently staging Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular, a play set over three consecutive Christmas Eves, the Tron’s summer show is a revival of Anthony Neilson’s The Lying Kind, whose farcical action unfolds against a backdrop of tinsel and holly wreaths.

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Review: The Lonesome West – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Wednesday July 13

Three Stars

The “West” in this case refers to Leenane in deepest County Galway, yet there is also something of the lawless frontier about Martin McDonagh’s Connemara. As imagined by the acclaimed playwright, the quaint Irish village is a hotbed of murder, domestic violence and dismemberment. As the hapless Father Welsh (Michael Dylan) has it: “I’d have to kill half me relatives to fit into this town.”

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Review: Shall Roger Casement Hang? – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Tuesday May 24 2016

Four Stars

To say that Roger Casement was a complex and paradoxical figure is something of an understatement. A Protestant, born to an Anglo-Irish family, he worked as a diplomat for the British government, receiving a knighthood. Yet he is remembered today as the revolutionary Irish nationalist who attempted to enlist German military aid for the 1916 Easter Uprising.

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Review: Cock – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Saturday February 13 2016

Three Stars

When Mike Bartlett’s 2009 comedy drama received its first production in New York in 2012, newspaper reviewers and advertisers primly rechristened it The Cockfight Play. Glasgow’s Tron, which is producing the Scottish premiere, seems similarly conflicted about the play’s original title. While the poster depicts a pair of fowls knocking the feathers off each other, the theatre is promoting the show on social media using the hashtag #NotAboutChickens.

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Review: Ghosts – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Tuesday October 13 2015

Two Stars

Ibsen’s naturalistic social drama was famously described by one early critic as “a loathsome sore unbandaged”. Megan Barker’s modernised version, currently playing at the Tron, attempts to up the ante, opening with a bloody collision with a deer and advancing through a roll call of pathologies – paedophilia, adultery, alcoholism and drug addiction – to the play’s grotesque final scenes. Yet, despite all the violence and profanity on display, the tone achieved in Andy Arnold’s production is more akin to histrionic soap opera than a ghost story with unsettling contemporary resonance.

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Review: Happy Days – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Tuesday May 19 2015

Four Stars

The casting of Karen Dunbar as Winnie, the entombed heroine of Samuel Beckett’s 1961 play Happy Days, was always going to be an intriguing prospect. Though the actor and comedian has shown her “serious” acting chops on stage with a blistering performance as Rose in the National Theatre of Scotland’s revival of The Guid Sisters and in Phyllida Lloyd’s recent all-female production of Henry IV at the Donmar Warehouse, she’s still best known for her work in the BBC Scotland sketch series Chewin’ the Fat.

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