Theatre review: The Bookies – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Saturday May 7 2022

THREE STARS

According to the writing partnership of Mikey Burnett and Joe McCann, the idea of setting a comedy-drama in a bookmaker first came to them in 2007. Fifteen years on, the world of the turf accountant has changed beyond recognition. Gone are the smoke-filled betting shops of old, replaced by shiny corporate outlets stuffed with gaming machines, the paper slips and tiny pencils supplanted by online accounts.

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Theatre review: The Children – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Saturday March 5 2022

FOUR STARS

It is a tale as old as theatre itself. Two people, in a lonely place, enjoying a delicate equilibrium, are disturbed by an unexpected knock at the door. In walks an unwelcome figure from the past, an avenging angel or perhaps even Death herself, and the fragile balance of the household is instantly and irretrievably broken.

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Panto review: A Christmas Carol – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Tuesday December 7 2021

FOUR STARS

It is no easy task to find new ways of staging Dickens’s seasonal tale of greed and redemption. Its familiarity is what makes it such a mainstay of Christmas theatre. One of the pleasures of this production is its willingness to play with our expectations, both as regards the story and the conventions of festive theatre.

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Theatre review: Wings Around Dundee – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Friday September 10 2021

THREE STARS

As Andrew Panton, the artistic director, reminds us in his opening address, the auditorium at Dundee Rep has been empty since March 2020. It is fitting somehow that the company’s first in-person show in 18 months should be a play set in Dundee in the midst of the pandemic that also touches upon aspects of the city’s heritage. John McCann’s script is rich in references to local landmarks such as Balgay Hill, the old music school and the McManus, which the audience laps up enthusiastically. There is even a cameo appearance from the museum’s most famous resident, the Tay Whale.

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Review: Tay Bridge – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Thursday September 5 2019

Three Stars

The City of Discovery’s best-known stories and characters inspire all the shows in Dundee Rep’s 80th anniversary programme. The season has opened on perhaps the most infamous event in the city’s history: the collapse of the original Tay Bridge during a gale in December 1879 with the loss of all 75 people making the journey by train from Fife to Dundee that night.

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Review: All My Sons – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Monday February 25 2019

Four Stars

Jemima Levick is the ideal person to helm this revival of All My Sons. The former artistic director of Dundee Rep has confessed that she wasn’t the greatest admirer of Arthur Miller’s first major success when she was asked to return to her former place of work to direct the 1947 play. Yet her production does exactly what a good revival of a classic should do: it invites its audience to look at a familiar work with fresh eyes.

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Review: The 39 Steps – Murthly Village Hall, Perthshire

First published in The Times, Monday June 11 2018

Three Stars

No one is quite sure who coined the phrase “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”, but the enduring sentiment could just as easily be applied to the obvious incongruity of “staging” a radio play.

 

Watching actors poised in front of microphones, scripts in hands, while their co-stars rhubarb in the background, creating crowd noise, may not sound promising, and yet, done well, it can be surprisingly absorbing. Mull Theatre’s ingenious production of Whisky Galore, set in a BBC studio and based upon Compton Mackenzie’s radio adaptation, has been regularly revived to appreciative responses since it premiered around a quarter of a century ago.

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Review: The Maids – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Wednesday November 1 2017

Three Stars

Audiences are accustomed to seeing the auditorium of Dundee Rep transformed by ambitious design. On several occasions the seating has been ripped out, reconfigured in the round or dispensed with altogether. The ensemble performed its award-winning 2012 production of Zinnie Harris’s Further Than the Furthest Thing in and around a huge pool of water.

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Review: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui – Rio Community Centre, Newport-on-Tay

First published in The Times, Wednesday June 7 2017

Four Stars

By coincidence, Dundee Rep’s community production of Brecht’s anti-fascist allegory is running at the same time as a major revival at the Donmar Warehouse. Where Brecht’s 1941 “parable play” parodied Hitler’s rise to power through the story of a small-time gangster who assumes control over the Chicago cauliflower racket in the 1930s, the London production, starring Lenny Henry, draws explicit parallels with the campaigning rhetoric and behaviour in office of the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Review: Monstrous Bodies – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Thursday April 27 2017

Three Stars

The tale of how Mary Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein in a waking dream while staying at Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816 is almost as familiar as the plot of the novel itself. Less well known is the author’s connection with the city of Dundee, where the 14-year-old Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin) spent several months recuperating from illness in 1812.

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