First published in The Times, Tuesday December 10 2019
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.
First published in The Times, Friday December 15 2017
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.
First published in The Times, Tuesday August 29 2017
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.
First published in The Times, Wednesday February 15 2017
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.
First published in The Times, Thursday March 17 2016
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.
First published in The Times, Tuesday January 5 2016
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.
First published in The Times, Monday August 31 2015
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.