First published in The Times, Monday October 9 2017
One can’t help but wonder whether this abridged version of the Scottish Play is the kind of thing Shakespeare would be writing if he were embarking on his career in an era dominated by small-scale studio shows. Frances Poet and Dominic Hill’s adaptation strips the tragedy down to its essentials, creating an intense domestic two-hander that requires its actors (Charlene Boyd and Keith Fleming) to divest themselves of everything but raw emotion.
First published in The Times, Tuesday November 1 2016
You can almost pinpoint a person’s age by which screen version of the Para Handy tales they most fondly recall. The wily captain of the Vital Spark, the Clyde puffer immortalised in Neil Munro’s short stories, has been portrayed on television no less than three times since the 1950s. The most recent adaptation, which starred Gregor Fisher and Rikki Fulton, aired in the mid-Nineties, so we are probably due another remake.
The “West” in this case refers to Leenane in deepest County Galway, yet there is also something of the lawless frontier about Martin McDonagh’s Connemara. As imagined by the acclaimed playwright, the quaint Irish village is a hotbed of murder, domestic violence and dismemberment. As the hapless Father Welsh (Michael Dylan) has it: “I’d have to kill half me relatives to fit into this town.”
First published in The Times, Monday September 28 2015
Liz Lochhead’s new play features more layers than a Viennese torte. The rich base is La Ronde: that once-scandalous work by the Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler, famously structured as a chain of sexual encounters that eventually comes full circle. In Lochhead’s version, this “sexual daisy chain” provides the inspiration for a tangy backstage comedy in which multiple characters revolve around an impoverished two-handed production of Schnitzler. The result is frequently entertaining, even if it proves to be not quite the sum of its many parts.