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: 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: 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: 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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Review: Hay Fever – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

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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: This Restless House – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Thursday May 5 2016

Four Stars

There’s a wealth of Greek literature in Scottish theatre at present. The blood is still wet on the stage at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum (during the current run of Chris Hannan’s adaptation of Homer’s Iliad), as the curtain begins to rise on this ambitious reimagining of Aeschylus’s Oresteia trilogy, with a punchy, contemporary version of the text by the playwright Zinnie Harris.

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Review: The Choir – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Thursday November 5 2015

Four Stars

Talk about prescient. This new play with songs revolving around the members of a North Lanarkshire choir opened in the week Oxford University published a study suggesting that community singing can play a powerful role in reducing loneliness and promoting social cohesion.

The list of problems afflicting the characters in The Choir – book by Paul Higgins with music by Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue – is seemingly endless, touching upon mental illness and bereavement, unemployment, marital breakup and class tensions. The play’s message – there’s no heartache so great it can’t be solved by a rousing singsong – may sound facile, but it is communicated with such verve and commitment in Dominic Hill’s production that you end up forgiving the conventional sentimentality of the storytelling.

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