First published in The Times, Monday October 18 2021
Nineteen months ago, before the pandemic ushered in theatre’s long hibernation, Perth Theatre staged a riotous version of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with five actors tackling the nine speaking parts. This new adaptation of Molière’s comedy, featuring a script by Grant O’Rourke and direction from Lu Kemp, is an even more ambitious test of its ensemble’s versatility, with a trio of performers covering the dozen or so roles.
Continue reading “Theatre review: Don Juan – Perth Theatre”
First published in The Times, Monday March 9 2020
Creating a truly original production of Oscar Wilde’s great comedy is no easy task. Its very familiarity is a major part of its popularity. Much of the dialogue is so axiomatic that you can almost hear the audience pre-empting the actors.
Continue reading “Review: The Importance of Being Earnest – Perth Theatre”
First published in The Times, Monday December 2 2019
It is always risky to take liberties with a classic, but Tony Cownie’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which transports Dickens’s festive favourite to Auld Reekie in the late 1850s, makes perfect sense. Crawford Logan’s Ebenezer Scrooge, the financier who travels in the course of one long, redemptive night from miser to merrymaker-in-chief, here seems the embodiment of a Presbyterian tradition that distrusts jollity and wouldn’t recognise Christmas Day as a holiday until some 30 years after Dickens’s novella was published.
Continue reading “Review: An Edinburgh Christmas Carol – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Friday October 11 2019
When Mark Twain observed that “humour is tragedy plus time” he may well have had The Alchemist in mind. Ben Jonson’s 1610 play about a trio of con artists who commandeer a gentleman’s house for a series of scams is the original riotous farce, complete with door slamming, mistaken identity and characters hiding in cupboards and lavatories. Yet its humour is savage, the language violent and the backdrop — a plague-ridden London — forbidding.
Continue reading “Review: The Alchemist – Tron Theatre, Glasgow”
First published in The Times, Monday October 8 2018
A first glance at Michael Taylor’s minutely detailed one-room set raises fears that we will be trapped for 90 minutes in the limited territory of kitchen-sink realism. However, as the lights go up we realise there is something not quite right about this crowded picture. For starters, this is a room with no discernible door or windows. Odder still, the kitchen sink contains neither bowl nor dishes but a record player stacked with 45s.
Continue reading “Review: Ballyturk – Tron Theatre, Glasgow”
First published in The Times, Tuesday February 20 2018
While Hannah Cowley is hardly a household name today, the playwright was well known to audiences in the late 18th century, at a time when the theatre was at its peak as a popular art form. Her most successful work, The Belle’s Stratagem, which premiered in 1780, and is a response to George Farquhar’s The Beaux Stratagem, was one of the most revived comedies of the period.
While originally set in London, the action transposes neatly to Georgian Edinburgh in Tony Cownie’s sparkling adaptation, with references to the burgeoning New Town, the loyal toast to the “King over the Water” and cameos from luminaries of the period, including the fiddler, Niel Gow.
Continue reading “Review: The Belle’s Stratagem – Lyceum, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Saturday November 4 2017
A first glance at the staging for Peter Arnott’s new adaptation of Compton Mackenzie’s novel may lead some in the audience to wonder if they have inadvertently stumbled upon Brigadoon. Ken Harrison, the designer, has garlanded his set with tartan. There are glimpses of heather-clad hills in the background and a soundtrack of bagpipes playing faintly overhead. The whole scene provokes the same frisson of resistance one feels walking past shop windows filled with shortbread and tinned haggis on the Royal Mile.
Continue reading “Review: The Monarch of the Glen – Pitlochry Festival Theatre”
First published in The Times, Friday 1 May 2015
Curious Incident: Four Stars
The Venetian Twins: Four Stars
Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a remarkable coming-of-age story told from the perspective of a teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome. The stage adaptation goes one better, finding more inventive ways to immerse its audience in the heightened point of view of Christopher Boone, the 15-year-old who is great with numbers but not so accomplished with people.
Continue reading “Reviews: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh; The Venetian Twins – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh”