Panto review: Cinderella – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Monday November 29 2021

FOUR STARS

“I’m a wee bit out of practice,” gasps dame Barrie Hunter, catching his breath and straightening his wig following a strenuous opening number, “it’s been a couple of years.” This moment of witty adlib contains more than a hint of poignancy. It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since audiences cheered and booed along to Perth’s pre-lockdown festive outing, Sinbad.

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Review: Sinbad – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Tuesday December 3 2019

Four Stars

When the New Year rolls around the actor Barrie Hunter will surely be grateful for a well-earned rest. Having strutted the boards in high heels and higher wigs as Perth Theatre’s resident dame these past few years, Hunter not only stars in, but also writes and directs this year’s panto. Little wonder the good-natured mammy he plays in the show is called Jackie Alltrades (geddit?).

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Review: Hamlet – Botanic Gardens, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Saturday July 27 2019

Four Stars

It was only a matter of time before Nicole Cooper, a linchpin of the Bard in the Botanics ensemble, was invited to play the Dane. Having spend a decade with Gordon Barr’s company, showing her mettle in a range of roles, from Rosalind in As You Like It to last year’s Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, her progression in the past couple of seasons to the title roles in Coriolanus (for which she won the Best Female Performance at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland) and Timon of Athens has seemed entirely inevitable.

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Review: The Last Witch – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Tuesday September 18 2018

Four Stars

When Rona Munro’s The Last Witch debuted at the Royal Lyceum as part of the 2009 Edinburgh International Festival, the play, inspired by the true story of the last woman to be burned for heresy in Scotland, got lost in an over-the-top staging that included elaborate multimedia, sound and special effects.

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Review: Carousel – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Wednesday June 8 2016

Three Stars

Someone once said that it takes a village to raise a child, and the same thing could be said of staging musical theatre. There are so many specialist talents involved, from the performers to the creative team and musicians that it is hardly surprising most companies would prefer to give shows requiring large casts and big bands a wide berth, not least in these cash-strapped times.

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Review: Improbable Fiction – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, June 9 2015

Three Stars

As the writer of nearly 80 full-length plays, there can’t be much Alan Ayckbourn does not know about the creative process. The thrill of letting the imagination run riot is at the heart of his 2005 play Improbable Fiction – a theme he explores through the dreams and frustrations of a motley rural creative writing circle, led by the mild-mannered Arnold (Ronnie Simon).

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