Theatre Review: Adventures with the Painted People – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Monday June 14 2021

FOUR STARS

Live theatre in Scotland in a time of Covid has come full circle. Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s exuberant production of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park was the last show to open north of the border before the national lockdown, its run at the Perthshire theatre coming to an abrupt end after a brace of performances.

Sixteen months on, the theatre is bouncing back with a wide-ranging programme of outdoor shows, promenade performances, monologues and musical recitals. While borne out of necessity, this 70th anniversary season’s alfresco flavour is apposite for a company that began life in a tent by the Tummel.

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Review: Faith Healer – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Thursday October 24 2019

Four Stars 

First performed in 1979, Brian Friel’s Faith Healer is a play with a formidable reputation. Yet Elizabeth Newman’s production for Pitlochry Festival Theatre is notable for its restraint and transporting intimacy. The staging is sparse and steadfast. The play’s three characters deliver four monologues with the ease of old friends sharing confidences across a café table. As the house lights stay lit throughout we feel almost as though we are part of the action.

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Review: The Duchess (of Malfi) – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Thursday May 23 2019

Four Stars

John Webster’s 1614 tragedy is a bold, provocative choice of play for inclusion in the Citizens Women season. The Jacobean dramatist was astonishingly ahead of his time in addressing the patriarchy’s horror of female agency. This new version by Zinnie Harris, which relocates the action to a world disturbingly close to the present, is similarly unflinching. The pared-down intensity of her update feels acutely right for our times.

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Review: Gut – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday April 27 2018

Three Stars

Clearly, there is something in the zeitgeist. From Outnumbered to Motherland, there has been a steady trickle of television sitcoms in recent years lampooning the chaos, guilt and tedium of modern parenting. Frances Poet’s latest play occupies the same gaudy terrain of soft play centres, nurseries and adventure playgrounds. Yet, aside from one amusing sequence involving a tussle between two adults over a Kermit the Frog figurine, its mood never strays far from the dark end of the spectrum.

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Review – Fever Dream: Southside at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday April 28 2015

Two stars

It takes a long time to adjust to the bizarre universe of Douglas Maxwell’s new comedy. The action ostensibly takes place in the Govanhill area of Glasgow during a sweltering heat wave but the off-centre atmosphere created in Dominic Hill’s production is more akin to Twin Peaks than River City.

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