Review: North and South – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Saturday September 7 2019

Three Stars

It is easy to see why Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1854 social novel should resonate in an age of Remain versus Leave. The book is structured around a series of binary oppositions. As well as the contrasting of the pastoral south of England, where the heroine Margaret Hale comes of age, with the industrialised north, to which the Hale family moves, Gaskell explores tensions between received wisdom and dissent, authority and a restless workforce, class and conflicting approaches to matters of the heart.

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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: Summer Holiday – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Wednesday June 5 2019

Four Stars

When the stage version of Summer Holiday premiered at the Blackpool Opera House in 1996, the big talking point was the double-decker London bus that trundled across the stage, with a lustrous Darren Day at the wheel.

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