First published in The Times, Monday March 11 2018
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.
First published in The Times, Monday February 8 2015
The experience of seeing actors famed for television roles taking to the stage can be disorientating, requiring an adjustment on the part of the audience, a further suspension of disbelief. In Dominic Hill’s revival of Endgame at the Citizens, the curiosity value of seeing David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne – for many years Roy Cropper and Peter Barlow in Coronation Street – transferred to the strange landscape of a Samuel Beckett play is swiftly defused by the fact that both actors are almost unrecognisable from the outset.
The 1991 BBC adaptation of Roberto Cossa’s La Nona featured no less a comedy legend than the late Les Dawson in the title role. By the same token the cast list for this National Theatre of Scotland production reads like a who’s who of Scottish comedy, with Rab C Nesbitt star Gregor Fisher returning to the stage for the first time in 30 years to tackle the pitiless 100-year-old matriarch who literally eats her family out of house and home.