First published in The Times, Friday December 6 2019
You can’t move at this time of year for stage versions of Dickens’s great tale of regret and redemption. Pitlochry’s festive outing is especially intriguing as Isobel McArthur, who scored a hit with her irreverent, karaoke-fuelled reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, has written the new adaptation.
First published in The Times, Thursday December 6 2018
In outline, Ella Hickson’s adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s tale of the “boy who wouldn’t grow up” doesn’t look especially radical. Wendy and Peter have their first encounter in the nursery as Peter hunts his errant shadow. Lost Boys, pirates, mermaids and vengeful crocodiles populate Neverland. The curtain comes down on the first act with the hero, apparently mortally wounded, uttering the immortal line: “to die will be an awfully big adventure.”
First published in The Times, Wednesday July 4 2018
The accoutrements of Sunday evening TV costume drama are present and correct in Blood of the Young’s refreshed take on Jane Austen. A chandelier hangs above an upright piano. A harp waits in a corner of the stage next to a row of high-backed chairs with floral upholstery. As the house lights go down we await the rattle and chink of the Bennet family’s best china plate being wheeled into the parlour for the benefit of gentleman visitors.
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.
It is hard to conceive of a time when electronic music was not a significant part of the soundtrack to our lives. Yet, back in the late 1950s, the establishment of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which created sound effects for use in programming, was so controversial that its founders, Daphne Oram and Desmond Briscoe, found themselves operating on a miniscule budget out of two dingy rooms at the corporation’s Maida Vale studios.
First published in The Times, Tuesday December 6 2016
Anthony Neilson is an inspired choice to create and direct a new version of Lewis Carroll’s dreamlike fantasy. His most celebrated play, The Wonderful World of Dissocia, which depicts a journey through the mind of a woman with a mental illness, is, in outline, a hybrid of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, shot-through with humour but edged in desolation and horror.
First published in The Times, Saturday February 13 2016
When Mike Bartlett’s 2009 comedy drama received its first production in New York in 2012, newspaper reviewers and advertisers primly rechristened it The Cockfight Play. Glasgow’s Tron, which is producing the Scottish premiere, seems similarly conflicted about the play’s original title. While the poster depicts a pair of fowls knocking the feathers off each other, the theatre is promoting the show on social media using the hashtag #NotAboutChickens.