Review: Hope and Joy – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Tuesday November 5 2019

Three Stars

Ellie Stewart’s play opens in a room in the maternity unit of a hospital where Hope (Kim Gerard) is giving birth alone. A brief exchange with the sunny-natured hospital cleaner, Joy (Beth Marshall), offers respite from contractions. The stage seems set for a tale of quirky friendship and heart-warming realism.

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Review: The Electrifying Mr Johnston – The Studio, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Tuesday February 19 2019

Three Stars

Tom Johnston is not exactly a household name — maybe not even in the households of aficionados of Scottish politics. A minister in Ramsay MacDonald’s coalition government of 1929-1935, and initially associated with the radical left-wing of the Labour Party, Johnston would go on to serve as secretary of state for Scotland in Winston Churchill’s wartime cabinet.

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Review: The Yellow on the Broom – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Monday September 3 2018

Four Stars

There are moments during this production of Anne Downie’s oft-revived play about a family of Scottish travellers in the 1930s when the audience appears to be lost in a haze of nostalgia. Mentions of pearl fishing on Speyside, neep gathering in Angus and berry picking in Perthshire are met with appreciative murmurs. When the nine-strong ensemble performs Adam McNaughtan’s song, which gives the play its title, everyone sings along, word-perfect.

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Review: August: Osage County – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Saturday September 2 2017

Four Stars

In this era of 90-minute plays, a three-and-a-half hour drama feels like a real theatrical banquet. August: Osage County, Tracy Letts’s multi award-winning play, which made its Broadway debut in 2008, features all the bristling dialogue and steady ratcheting-up of tension found in great American stage works such as Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Yet, Letts’s family saga, with its large cast of dysfunctional characters, multiple plot strands, twists and revelations, is also unapologetically entertaining, like a soap opera only speeded-up.

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Review: The Taming of the Shrew – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Tuesday June 27 2017

Three Stars

Last year, Bard in the Botanics, Glasgow’s long-running outdoor Shakespeare festival, launched a new strand, Writing the Renaissance, showcasing the work of the bard’s lesser-known contemporaries. The inaugural production was a radical adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, whittled down to a fleet 90 minutes and performed by a cast of just three actors.

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