Review: The Monarch of the Glen – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Saturday November 4 2017

Four Stars

A first glance at the staging for Peter Arnott’s new adaptation of Compton Mackenzie’s novel may lead some in the audience to wonder if they have inadvertently stumbled upon Brigadoon. Ken Harrison, the designer, has garlanded his set with tartan. There are glimpses of heather-clad hills in the background and a soundtrack of bagpipes playing faintly overhead. The whole scene provokes the same frisson of resistance one feels walking past shop windows filled with shortbread and tinned haggis on the Royal Mile.

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Review: Hay Fever – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday March 17 2017

Four Stars

Dominic Hill, the artistic director of the Citizens Theatre, has won acclaim and awards in recent years for productions of Crime and Punishment and Hamlet presented on near-bare stages, with only a few essential props and the cast doubling as musicians. While his production of Hay Fever is not as skeletal as his previous shows, the staging here is more restrained than the usual lavish naturalism you get in productions of Coward.

Tom Piper’s set design provides just enough detail to convey the comfortably moth-eaten atmosphere of the Bliss residence. That the wings are in sight of the audience feels wholly appropriate to a play about a family who enact the mother of all pantomimes for the benefit of their houseguests, one of whom decries their antics as “artificial to the point of lunacy”.

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Review: Shall Roger Casement Hang? – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday May 24 2016

Four Stars

To say that Roger Casement was a complex and paradoxical figure is something of an understatement. A Protestant, born to an Anglo-Irish family, he worked as a diplomat for the British government, receiving a knighthood. Yet he is remembered today as the revolutionary Irish nationalist who attempted to enlist German military aid for the 1916 Easter Uprising.

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Review: Waiting for Godot – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Thursday September 24 2015

Four Stars

What better way to kick off the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company’s 50th anniversary season than with a play about two old friends who have stuck together, for better or worse, for half a century? This much-anticipated Beckett revival, directed by departing artistic director Mark Thomson, also brings the careers of its two stars full circle. While Brian Cox was a founding member of the original Lyceum ensemble, Bill Paterson first performed in Edinburgh in 1972 as part of Billy Connolly’s The Great Northern Welly Boot Show.

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Review: Hedda Gabler – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Saturday March 28 2015

Four Stars

In this compelling new production of Ibsen’s classic, the elegant drawing room set, designed by Jean Chan, with its large windows offering views onto an interior room, increasingly comes to feel like a wooden cage. Curtains blowing in the breeze give some sense of the outside world that in no way diminishes this atmosphere of claustrophobia. At one point, as the play moves towards its devastating climax, the walls roll forward, shrinking the space still further.

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