Theatre review: Sunshine on Leith – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday June 13 2022

THREE STARS

This major production of Sunshine on Leith may have originated at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, but it is only fitting that a revival of the hit musical featuring the songs of those Hibs-supporting sometime-Leith-dwellers The Proclaimers should include a run in the capital.

At times the atmosphere in the auditorium resembles the frenzy that greets the King’s legendary annual panto, with the audience chuckling appreciatively at references to local landmarks and singing along wholeheartedly.

The playwright Stephen Greenhorn, who wrote the show for Dundee Rep in 2007, has updated his book to include mention of everything from Brexit to Netflix to Fifty Shades of Grey. In one poignant scene, characters discuss going for a coffee in Jenners, the Princes Street department store that has stood empty since the onset of the pandemic, leading to regretful murmurings in the stalls.

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Panto review: Sleeping Beauty – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Wednesday December 8 2021

FOUR STARS

A palpable sense of excitement is in the air as the legendary King’s pantomime returns following a two-year absence. Yet this production of Sleeping Beauty also comes with a bittersweet edge. A notable absence from the cast list is Andy Gray – for 20 years one of the stars of the show alongside Allan Stewart and Grant Stott – who died earlier this year.

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Review: Goldilocks and the Three Bears – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Tuesday December 10 2019

Three Stars

Excitement levels in the auditorium at this year’s King’s pantomime are even higher than usual. The first reason is the return of Andy Gray, one third of the regular performing team alongside Allan Stewart and Grant Stott, who missed last year’s show due to illness. When he appears onstage and launches into his catchphrase (“I’ve no been very well…”) the applause is long and heartfelt.

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Review: Cinderella – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday December 15 2017

Four Stars

Some people know each other so well they finish each other’s sentences. This is literally true of the entertainers Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott, the trio that has been at the heart of the King’s Theatre’s annual pantomime for the past 13 years. Whenever one of them struggles to spit out his lines, usually due to cracking up with laughter, the other two are on hand to clear up the verbal clutter – or simply exacerbate the sense of anarchy.

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Review: Letters Live – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Tuesday August 29 2017

Three Stars

Perhaps the highest compliment you can pay an actor is that they could read from the phonebook and still make it engaging. Letters Live, in which well-known (and not so well-known) personalities read from significant correspondence, obviously provides the performers with far greater scope than the Yellow Pages. Yet, perhaps inevitably, the show, which has toured widely, attracting A-list participants, proves something of a mixed postbag.

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Review: Cuttin’ a Rug – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Wednesday February 15 2017

Four Stars

The middle instalment of a trilogy can often feel inessential: the slightly sagging bridge between a punchy opening and satisfactory denouement. This revival of the second part of John Byrne’s Slab Boys trilogy reaffirms the play as every bit as funny and poignant as episode one. If anything, Caroline Paterson’s production is a cut above the David Hayman-directed revival of The Slab Boys – staged at the same theatre a couple of years ago.

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Review: Canned Laughter – Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy

First published in The Times, Thursday March 17 2016

Three Stars

Over the past decade the comedy performers Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott have developed a hugely successful partnership as mainstays of the annual pantomime at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre. The trio’s infectious performing chemistry is once again on display in this “straight” comedy, written by Ed Curtis in collaboration with Stewart and currently on tour.

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Review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Tuesday January 5 2016

Four Stars

The pantomime at King’s, Edinburgh, has long acquired the status of venerable institution, running to more than 80 performances annually and featuring a triumvirate of stars – Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott – who have appeared together on and off for the past 17 years. Stewart, a variety performer and much-loved dame since 1997, has acknowledged that his character stays more or less the same no matter the script. Certainly, the actor has been performing in the same lavender bouffant wig for at least a decade.

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Review: Murmel Murmel – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival

First published in The Times, Monday August 31 2015

Two Stars

In outline, this looked fascinating: an acclaimed staging of a piece of concrete poetry by the Swiss artist Dieter Roth, consisting of 176 pages filled with a single word: “murmel”. Sadly, in the hands of the director Herbert Fritsch and the 11-strong ensemble of the Volksbühne, Berlin, this show, while intermittently engaging, proved something of an endurance test.

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