Reviews: Eddie and the Slumber Sisters – Corn Exchange, Haddington; Baba Yaga – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Saturday May 12 2018

Eddie and the Slumber Sisters: Three Stars

Baba Yaga: Four Stars

Catherine Wheels, the leading purveyors of children’s theatre in Scotland, are drawn to subjects other companies would flinch from tackling. Their acclaimed show, The Voice Thief, drew on horror and sci-fi tropes in its depiction of patriarchal tyranny and suppression, while HUFF, created with Shona Reppe and Andy Manley, presented the Three Little Pigs’ house as a crime scene.

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Review: Bingo! – Assembly Hall, Edinburgh

 

First published in The Times, Monday March 11 2018

Two Stars

In many ways, the bingo hall is the ideal place in which to set a site-specific show. Like live theatre at its best, a night at the bingo is a collective experience that’s a little different every time, leaving its participants trembling on the edge of their seats, on the verge of elation or disappointment.

 

It is surprising that this new musical comedy, produced by Stellar Quines in collaboration with Grid Iron, the leading company specialising in site-specific work in Scotland, makes no attempt to fully immerse its audience within such a giddy atmosphere. We watch the action unfold against the glittery backdrop of Carys Hobbs and Becky Minto’s set at one remove, and the experience is akin to spying on a party to which we haven’t been invited.

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Review: God of Carnage – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Monday March 13 2017

Three Stars

Yasmina Reza’s most famous play, the frequently revived Art, depicted a friendship tested to breaking point following the acquisition of a large, completely white painting. In Gareth Nicholls’s new production of Reza’s recent hit comedy, God of Carnage, most of the set, created by Karen Tennent, is itself a dazzling white canvas. The furniture and fittings sparkle, like something out of an interior designer’s vision of heaven. Refreshment is served on a white tray bearing gleaming espresso cups and plates.

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Review: This Restless House – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Thursday May 5 2016

Four Stars

There’s a wealth of Greek literature in Scottish theatre at present. The blood is still wet on the stage at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum (during the current run of Chris Hannan’s adaptation of Homer’s Iliad), as the curtain begins to rise on this ambitious reimagining of Aeschylus’s Oresteia trilogy, with a punchy, contemporary version of the text by the playwright Zinnie Harris.

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Review: Happy Hour – Òran Mór, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Friday November 13 2015

Four Stars

The dark comic tone of Anita Vettesse’s play is established early. “What’s in the shoebox?” asks Kay (Hannah Donaldson) of her mother, Anne (Anne Lacey). “Your dad,” comes the reply, without so much as a shrug of regret.

The premise of this debut from Vettesse may be familiar, but it is revitalised in Gethin Evans’s production by the keenness of the writing and a trio of fine, complementary performances. Donaldson, Lacey and Stephen McCole portray the surviving members of a disunited clan, who have gathered in the back room of the family pub to bid a not-so-fond farewell to newly deceased patriarch, Joe. While Anne sees a rare chance to gather her offspring around her, the kids have less honourable reasons for attending.

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Review: Swallow – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe

First published in The Times, Tuesday August 11

Four Stars

In a relatively short space of time Stef Smith has established herself as a remarkably diverse and elusive playwright. Having first attracted attention as the writer of human trafficking drama RoadKill, which won an Olivier Award in 2012, her subsequent work includes a site-specific piece focusing on three generations of beekeepers and a decidedly off-centre play in which a married couple cope with their grief at the death of their daughter by endlessly dressing up and performing routines from The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

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