Review: Faithful Ruslan: the Story of a Guard Dog – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday September 26 2017

Three Stars

This is not the first time this year that a performer has taken on the role of man’s best friend on the stage at the Citizens. In May, the actor Ewan Somers gave a memorable turn as an amorous Irish wolfhound in a revival of Giles Havergal’s celebrated version of Graham Greene’s Travels with My Aunt.


A mere four months on and another literary adaptation is affording Somers and a dozen of his fellow actors the opportunity to play not only dogs and chickens but also guards and prisoners in a Soviet labour camp. In the opening moments of Helena Kaut-Howson’s production, based on the 1975 allegorical novel by Georgi Vladimov, the dissident writer, we watch the company being put through its paces in a military-style drill, snapping from canine to human and back again in response to barked commands.

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Review: Down & Out in Paris and London – Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe

First published in The Times, Monday August 17 2015

Three Stars

David Byrne’s adaptation of George Orwell’s 1933 memoir is still a tale of two cities, though not in the way you might expect. The Paris sections are drawn directly from Orwell’s work, with Richard Delaney, the actor, giving a convincing first-person account of the young Eric Blair’s transition from wannabe poet to politically engaged novelist, after living on the breadline in the French capital for two years. These scenes are nimbly interwoven with extracts from a contemporary account of life on benefits and the minimum wage in London, from the journalist Polly Toynbee (Carole Street).

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