First published in The Times, Friday December 13 2019
“A sad tale’s best for winter,” Shakespeare once wrote, and it doesn’t get much more melancholy than Carlo Collodi’s fable about the misadventures of a puppet boy who longs to become a real human. Put all thoughts of the cutesy Walt Disney version out of your mind: Dominic Hill’s production, based around the punchy adaptation by Robert Alan Evans, is a deliciously dark vision.
First published in The Times, Wednesday May 1 2019
Morna Young began work on this, her first full-length play, in 2011, but the tragic story at its heart has been bubbling beneath the surface for much longer. Young, from the fishing community of Burghead in Moray, lost her own father, a trawlerman, to the sea in 1989, when she was five years old.
The history of LGBT rights in the UK goes hand in hand with Edward II’s production history. Though the title is now synonymous with queer art, Christopher Marlowe’s 1594 tragedy didn’t come out of the closet until the late 1960s, thanks to an infamous staging from Prospect Theatre Company that made explicit the homoerotic content. A small screen version of the same production (which starred Ian McKellen) included the first gay kiss to be shown on British television.
First published in The Times, Monday November 13 2017
At first sight, the two strands of Anders Lustgarten’s 2015 play seem, quite literally, worlds apart. Stefano (Andy Clark) relates the first of the alternating monologues. A former fisherman from a “little dusty island you’ve never heard of”, Stefano now spends his days and nights retrieving corpses from the tide of refugees who have drowned on the journey from North Africa to Italy.
August Strindberg wasn’t the first playwright to portray marriage as a fight to the death, but his vision of a man and woman locked in symbiosis has certainly echoed down the years. The influence of his 1900 play The Dance of Death can be felt in everything from Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to pretty much every sitcom marriage of the Seventies and Eighties.
First published in The Times, Tuesday August 25 2015
Eyebrows were raised when it was announced that the Edinburgh International Festival and the Citizens Theatre were teaming up to create a theatrical adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s Lanark. The author himself had a go at translating his mammoth dystopian novel for film 30 years ago but was forced to abandon the project as a fool’s errand. It is therefore much to the credit of playwright David Greig that his adaptation of Gray’s big beast of a book for the stage is both comprehensive and reassuringly coherent.