Review: Mrs Puntila and Her Man Matti – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Thursday March 5 2020

Two Stars

On paper this gender-swapped version of Bertolt Brecht’s 1940 comedy looks intriguing. The novelist Denise Mina adapts, with the redoubtable Elaine C Smith in the lead and the award-winning Turkish director Murat Daltaban at the helm. Yet while the production features some fine flourishes, there is no escaping the overall sense of a messy and incoherent assemblage.

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Review: Pinocchio – Tramway, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Friday December 13 2019

Four Stars

“A sad tale’s best for winter,” Shakespeare once wrote, and it doesn’t get much more melancholy than Carlo Collodi’s fable about the misadventures of a puppet boy who longs to become a real human. Put all thoughts of the cutesy Walt Disney version out of your mind: Dominic Hill’s production, based around the punchy adaptation by Robert Alan Evans, is a deliciously dark vision.

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Review: The Duchess (of Malfi) – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Thursday May 23 2019

Four Stars

John Webster’s 1614 tragedy is a bold, provocative choice of play for inclusion in the Citizens Women season. The Jacobean dramatist was astonishingly ahead of his time in addressing the patriarchy’s horror of female agency. This new version by Zinnie Harris, which relocates the action to a world disturbingly close to the present, is similarly unflinching. The pared-down intensity of her update feels acutely right for our times.

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Review: Nora: A Doll’s House – Tramway, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday March 25 2019

Two Stars

A Doll’s House by Ibsen is one of those theatrical gifts that keep on giving. The play about a middle-class woman, Nora Helmer, who comes to realise that her seemingly perfect marriage is a pretty cage, has been endlessly updated since its premiere in 1879. Lucas Hnath’s sequel, A Doll’s House, Part 2, which speculates on what happened to Nora after she closed the door on her old life, opened on Broadway in 2017.

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Review: Cyrano de Bergerac –Tramway, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday September 10 2018

Four Stars

The autumn theatre season has rolled around again, but for Dominic Hill and the Citizens Theatre it is far from business as usual. Cyrano de Bergerac is the company’s first production since taking up residence at nearby Tramway while its Gorbals HQ undergoes renovations. Hill’s take on Edmond Rostand’s 1897 verse drama, based on the celebrated 1992 Scots translation by Edwin Morgan, is an ambitious team effort, co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Lyceum, that will tour stages around the country.

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Review: Long Day’s Journey Into Night – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Saturday April 21 2018

Four Stars

“Enough is not as good as a feast!” cries Edmund Tyrone (Lorn Macdonald), tossing back the latest in a long line of whisky shots. In an age of rapid-fire 90-minute plays with no interval, a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece at the Citizens certainly feels like a good old-fashioned theatrical banquet, albeit a well-oiled one.

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Review: Bold Girls – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Wednesday January 31 2018

Four Stars

Rona Munro’s Bold Girls, first staged in 1990, is one of those disquieting works that lures its audience in gently before gradually exposing them to the sadness and desperation at its core. The play is set in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, but in the opening ten minutes of this revival at the Citizens – as Marie (Lucianne McEvoy) entertains her best friend, Cassie (Scarlett Mack), and Cassie’s mother, Nora (Deirdre Davis), in her cramped front room – we might just as easily be in sitcom-land. The women light-heartedly discuss their planned night out, diets and Saturday evening telly. Neil Haynes’s design is so detailed that you can almost feel the warm glow from Marie’s grill pan.

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Review: Cinderella – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday December 4 2017

Four Stars

There are a couple of golden rules that must be observed when it comes to staging a winning Christmas show. The first is never to forget the importance of a good story, simply yet effectively told in theatrical form, and in Stuart Paterson’s enduring adaptation of Cinderella, Dominic Hill, the director, and his team at the Citizens are working from a copper-bottomed classic.

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Review: Lampedusa – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday November 13 2017

Four Stars

 

At first sight, the two strands of Anders Lustgarten’s 2015 play seem, quite literally, worlds apart. Stefano (Andy Clark) relates the first of the alternating monologues. A former fisherman from a “little dusty island you’ve never heard of”, Stefano now spends his days and nights retrieving corpses from the tide of refugees who have drowned on the journey from North Africa to Italy.

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Review: The Macbeths – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday October 9 2017

Three Stars

One can’t help but wonder whether this abridged version of the Scottish Play is the kind of thing Shakespeare would be writing if he were embarking on his career in an era dominated by small-scale studio shows. Frances Poet and Dominic Hill’s adaptation strips the tragedy down to its essentials, creating an intense domestic two-hander that requires its actors (Charlene Boyd and Keith Fleming) to divest themselves of everything but raw emotion.

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