Theatre review: James IV: Queen of the Fight – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Wednesday October 5 2022


Eight years on from the epic trilogy that formed the centrepiece of the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival, the playwright Rona Munro continues her history cycle, based around the lives and (mostly) violent deaths of Scotland’s Stuart kings and queens. Familiar names returning for this latest instalment include Laurie Sansom, the former artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, and the veteran actor Blythe Duff, who was the linchpin of the original James Plays.

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Review: Quality Street – Viaduct Theatre, Halifax

First published in The Times, Monday February 24 2020

Three Stars

Halifax, the home of Northern Broadsides, is a fitting place from which to launch a revival of JM Barrie’s 1901 romantic comedy. The Quality Street factory, where the Purely Purple Ones and Strawberry Delights continue to be made, is a landmark in the town, and a poignant reminder that this now neglected play was once so popular that it inspired a line of chocolates.

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Review: The 306: Dawn – Dalcrue Farm, Perthshire

First published in The Times, Wednesday June 1 2016

Three Stars


Since its inauguration a decade ago, the National Theatre of Scotland has staged work in a number of remarkable places, including pubs, a swimming pool and Edinburgh International Airport. The latest production is perhaps its most adventurous undertaking yet. Audiences are bussed from Perth Concert Hall to an ambitiously reconfigured barn in a field in nearby Pitcairngreen. This is the immersive setting for Oliver Emanuel’s haunting play about three soldiers who were shot for cowardice during the First World War.

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Review: The Driver’s Seat – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Wednesday June 24 2015

Four Stars

Muriel Spark’s 1970 novella The Driver’s Seat would probably be considered too much of a curiosity for publication today. The protagonist is Lise, a woman in her thirties, alienated and unhinged by the rituals of her office job, who travels from northern to southern Europe, ostensibly in search of “her type”. Spark pulls the carpet out from under her readers’ feet by revealing, barely three chapters in, that her central character will be brutally murdered.

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