Theatre review: Sunshine on Leith – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday June 13 2022

THREE STARS

This major production of Sunshine on Leith may have originated at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, but it is only fitting that a revival of the hit musical featuring the songs of those Hibs-supporting sometime-Leith-dwellers The Proclaimers should include a run in the capital.

At times the atmosphere in the auditorium resembles the frenzy that greets the King’s legendary annual panto, with the audience chuckling appreciatively at references to local landmarks and singing along wholeheartedly.

The playwright Stephen Greenhorn, who wrote the show for Dundee Rep in 2007, has updated his book to include mention of everything from Brexit to Netflix to Fifty Shades of Grey. In one poignant scene, characters discuss going for a coffee in Jenners, the Princes Street department store that has stood empty since the onset of the pandemic, leading to regretful murmurings in the stalls.

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Theatre review: The Wind in the Willows – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Thursday July 15 2021

FOUR STARS

Could there be a more superlative setting for a production of The Wind in the Willows than the banks of the Tummel? There have of course been numerous stage adaptations of Kenneth Grahame’s classic, but few can boast an actual riverbank as the backdrop to the adventures of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Toad.

Elizabeth Newman and Ben Occhipinti’s production, from a new script by Mark Powell, stays faithful to the spirit if not the letter of the original, sustaining a good balance between action and hi-jinks with some quieter, more reflective scenes. Powell makes a few tweaks to the story, adding extra dimensions to the conflict between the four chums and the Wild-Wooders and in the process touching upon land use and ecology, creating a timely edge to the piece.

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