First published in The Times, Thursday March 5 2020
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.
First published in The Times, Wednesday December 11 2019
The opening voiceover from football legend Graeme Souness, encouraging grown-ups to turn off their phones and “turn up” their children, is surplus to requirements. This, after all, is the Glasgow King’s panto, where excitement levels are set high from the outset and frequently rise to the pitch of frenzy.
First published in The Times, Friday August 16 2019
Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of the bestselling memoir by Jackie Kay, Scotland’s makar (national poet), is full of moments that break the heart and stir joy. It was almost bound to be. The book, which weaves the author’s 20-year search for her birth family with memories of her upbringing as the mixed-race, adopted daughter of white Scottish parents, is written with an irresistible vitality and generosity of spirit. Its universality comes from its attempt to address the great mystery of what makes us who we are.
First published in The Times, Wednesday December 12 2018
Anyone playing pantomime bingo would be shouting “house” long before the end of this year’s show at the Glasgow King’s. The up-for-it audience doesn’t need permission to boo and hiss. No sooner have the fluorescent wristbands and deely boppers been illuminated than the evil Abanazar (George Drennan) is leading the crowd in a chorus of “Oh yes I will!” / “Oh no you won’t!” Before the latecomers have even shuffled into their seats, we’ve heard the gag about Widow Twankey (Elaine C Smith) being “the best scrubber in Old Peking”.