Theatre review: Wings Around Dundee – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Friday September 10 2021

THREE STARS

As Andrew Panton, the artistic director, reminds us in his opening address, the auditorium at Dundee Rep has been empty since March 2020. It is fitting somehow that the company’s first in-person show in 18 months should be a play set in Dundee in the midst of the pandemic that also touches upon aspects of the city’s heritage. John McCann’s script is rich in references to local landmarks such as Balgay Hill, the old music school and the McManus, which the audience laps up enthusiastically. There is even a cameo appearance from the museum’s most famous resident, the Tay Whale.

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Review: Smile – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Monday February 24 2020

Three Stars

It is said that all political careers end in failure; the same observation could be made about most football managers. Jim McLean’s final match in charge of Dundee United ended in a 4-1 loss to Aberdeen. Nonetheless, the fans insisted on their club’s longest-serving manager taking a lap of honour.

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Review: Pinocchio – Tramway, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Friday December 13 2019

Four Stars

“A sad tale’s best for winter,” Shakespeare once wrote, and it doesn’t get much more melancholy than Carlo Collodi’s fable about the misadventures of a puppet boy who longs to become a real human. Put all thoughts of the cutesy Walt Disney version out of your mind: Dominic Hill’s production, based around the punchy adaptation by Robert Alan Evans, is a deliciously dark vision.

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Review: Kes – Perth Theatre

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First published in The Times, Friday November 8 2019

Four Stars

The story goes that Disney considered acquiring the rights to Barry Hines’s 1968 novel A Kestrel for a Knave but withdrew their interest when the author refused to change the book’s downbeat ending. That the non-bowdlerised adaptation, directed by Ken Loach, has proved so enduring since its release 50 years ago is testament to a widespread acceptance on the part of audiences that stories about children need not always be sugary or optimistic.

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Review: Cyrano de Bergerac –Tramway, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday September 10 2018

Four Stars

The autumn theatre season has rolled around again, but for Dominic Hill and the Citizens Theatre it is far from business as usual. Cyrano de Bergerac is the company’s first production since taking up residence at nearby Tramway while its Gorbals HQ undergoes renovations. Hill’s take on Edmond Rostand’s 1897 verse drama, based on the celebrated 1992 Scots translation by Edwin Morgan, is an ambitious team effort, co-produced by the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Lyceum, that will tour stages around the country.

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Review: Cinderella – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday December 4 2017

Four Stars

There are a couple of golden rules that must be observed when it comes to staging a winning Christmas show. The first is never to forget the importance of a good story, simply yet effectively told in theatrical form, and in Stuart Paterson’s enduring adaptation of Cinderella, Dominic Hill, the director, and his team at the Citizens are working from a copper-bottomed classic.

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Review: Out of This World – Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling

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First published in The Times, Wednesday April 26 2017

Two Stars

Mark Murphy, the choreographer and director of V-Tol Dance Company, is known for large-scale theatrical events, including the closing ceremony of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, as well as intimate, text-based plays, such as his two-hander Night Shift. His latest work, co-commissioned by the Macrobert and Sadler’s Wells, combines spectacle and storytelling to explore the chaotic inner workings of a woman in a medically-induced coma.

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Review: Dr Frankenstein – Northern Stage, Newcastle

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First published in The Times, Friday February 10 2017

Four Stars

The iconic status of Mary Shelley’s creation is mainly thanks to a Hollywood makeup artist named Jack Pierce. He dreamt up the image of the flat-topped monster with bolts in his neck, made immortal by Boris Karloff in James Whale’s 1931 film adaption, that has long eclipsed the “shrivelled complexion and straight black lips” of the creature in the original novel.

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Review: Endgame – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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First published in The Times, Monday February 8 2015

Four Stars

The experience of seeing actors famed for television roles taking to the stage can be disorientating, requiring an adjustment on the part of the audience, a further suspension of disbelief. In Dominic Hill’s revival of Endgame at the Citizens, the curiosity value of seeing David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne – for many years Roy Cropper and Peter Barlow in Coronation Street – transferred to the strange landscape of a Samuel Beckett play is swiftly defused by the fact that both actors are almost unrecognisable from the outset.

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Review – Fever Dream: Southside at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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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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