Review: Smile – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Monday February 24 2020

Three Stars

It is said that all political careers end in failure; the same observation could be made about most football managers. Jim McLean’s final match in charge of Dundee United ended in a 4-1 loss to Aberdeen. Nonetheless, the fans insisted on their club’s longest-serving manager taking a lap of honour.

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Review: Sinbad – Perth Theatre

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First published in The Times, Tuesday December 3 2019

Four Stars

When the New Year rolls around the actor Barrie Hunter will surely be grateful for a well-earned rest. Having strutted the boards in high heels and higher wigs as Perth Theatre’s resident dame these past few years, Hunter not only stars in, but also writes and directs this year’s panto. Little wonder the good-natured mammy he plays in the show is called Jackie Alltrades (geddit?).

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Review: A-Z of Dundee – Rio Community Centre, Newport-on-Tay

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First published in The Times, Monday June 3 2019

Three Stars

This irreverent celebration of the City of Discovery could hardly be timelier. Dundee has undergone a renaissance in recent years, the most striking symbol of which, the V&A Dundee, opened its doors in 2018. Last year, the city was included in the Wall Street Journal’s top ten global travel destinations and was described in GQ magazine as “Britain’s coolest little city”.

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Review: All My Sons – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Monday February 25 2019

Four Stars

Jemima Levick is the ideal person to helm this revival of All My Sons. The former artistic director of Dundee Rep has confessed that she wasn’t the greatest admirer of Arthur Miller’s first major success when she was asked to return to her former place of work to direct the 1947 play. Yet her production does exactly what a good revival of a classic should do: it invites its audience to look at a familiar work with fresh eyes.

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Review: Gagarin Way – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Tuesday October 23 2018

Four Stars

It feels misleading to refer to this new production of Gagarin Way as a “revival” — as though the director Cora Bissett and her cast had somehow breathed life back into a corpse. Gregory Burke’s black comedy, which was plucked out of the slush pile at the Traverse Theatre and went on to stun audiences at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, has thrived on stages around the world pretty much nonstop since its premiere in 2001.

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Review: Spring Awakening – Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

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First published in The Times, Friday March 16 2018

Four Stars

It was in the aftermath of the Columbine massacre in 1999 that Steven Slater and Duncan Sheik conceived their musical adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play about the unheard cries of young people. Fast forward 20 years and it is poignant that this energetic new production, featuring students from the Royal Conservatoire under the direction of Andrew Panton of Dundee Rep, is opening in the same week as a walkout of students across the United States in protest at yet another high school shooting.

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Review: Aladdin – Perth Theatre

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First published in The Times, Tuesday December 12 2017

Three Stars

There was drama on and offstage at the opening performance of Perth’s pantomime. Ten minutes before the finale, a few too many puffs of smoke triggered the newly refurbishment theatre’s fire alarm system, dispatching cast, crew and audience onto the High Street for an impromptu second interval. Everyone involved took the disruption in good grace. The fire fighters were even called onstage to take a bow when the action resumes.

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Review: Dick McWhittington – Perth Concert Hall

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First published in The Times, Tuesday December 13 2016

Three Stars

 

Perth’s lovely Victorian theatre may have been closed for refurbishment for the past couple of years, but this hasn’t prevented Scotland’s oldest repertory company from mounting its successful annual pantomime. For this year’s production, the shelf-like stage of the city’s concert hall has once again been transformed with the addition of a proscenium arch and layers of painted flats.

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Reviews: Beauty and the Beast – Perth Theatre; Cinderella – Byre Theatre, St Andrews

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First published in The Times, Tuesday December 16 2015

Beauty and the Beast: Four Stars

Cinderella: Three Stars

 

Perth’s Victorian theatre may be in the midst of an extensive restoration but, for the second festive season in a row, the proscenium archway has been lovingly recreated on the stage of the city’s concert hall. This year’s pantomime, scripted by the ever-reliable Alan McHugh, is Beauty and the Beast, with a refreshing emphasis on the former rather than the latter.

The story unfolds against an array of gorgeous painted backdrops, created by the designer Ken Harrison, with stunning costumes to match, from Belle’s (AmyBeth Littlejohn) sumptuous gold ball gown to the increasingly over-the-top frocks and topknots modelled by Barrie Hunter’s Dame Betty Blumenthal.

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