First published in The Times, Thursday May 25 2017
John Knox (Jamie Sives) stands at the front of the stage, watching the audience file into the auditorium. Clad in black, with Bible in hand, he is utterly immobile save for his eyes, which roam the stalls, picking out individual audience members and holding them with an unyielding gaze.
It is a discomforting start to Linda McLean’s new play about the 16th century Scottish Reformer – who was credited with founding the Presbyterian Church – and his various exchanges with that other great icon of the period, Mary, Queen of Scots. The feeling of unease provoked by this opening gambit will be familiar to anyone who has passed under the stare of the statue of Knox that is at the entrance of the Assembly Hall on the Mound in Edinburgh – ironically now a major venue every August during the Festival Fringe.
First published in The Times, Monday March 13 2017
Yasmina Reza’s most famous play, the frequently revived Art, depicted a friendship tested to breaking point following the acquisition of a large, completely white painting. In Gareth Nicholls’s new production of Reza’s recent hit comedy, God of Carnage, most of the set, created by Karen Tennent, is itself a dazzling white canvas. The furniture and fittings sparkle, like something out of an interior designer’s vision of heaven. Refreshment is served on a white tray bearing gleaming espresso cups and plates.
First published in The Times, Wednesday June 1 2016
The Story of the Little Gentleman: Four Stars
Tales of a Grandson: Four Stars
It must be that time of year again. Sunlight is streaming into the grand gallery at the National Museum of Scotland. Storytelling events, workshops and even a puppet-led yoga class are taking place in various corners of the building. At one end of the foyer a band is just striking up for the latest in a series of gigs for families entitled Sprog Rock! Clearly, the annual Imaginate festival of performance for children and young people is well underway.
First published in The Times, Wednesday April 27 2016
A stage version of The Iliad, scripted by Chris Hannan and directed by Mark Thomson, is a mouth-watering prospect. The playwright has form when it comes to adaptions of the classics, having penned multi-award-winning productions of Crime and Punishment and The Three Musketeers, while Thomson, who is stepping down as artistic director of the Lyceum, is at his best when marshalling large ensembles through rich, intricate stories.