Creating a truly original production of Oscar Wilde’s great comedy is no easy task. Its very familiarity is a major part of its popularity. Much of the dialogue is so axiomatic that you can almost hear the audience pre-empting the actors.
First published in The Times, Friday November 8 2019
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.
Some Richards are so grotesquely charismatic that they overwhelm everything else onstage. This was the case with Lars Eidinger’s performance as the Machiavellian prince in Thomas Ostermeier’s acclaimed production of Shakespeare, which stopped off at the Edinburgh International Festival a couple of years back. The German actor exploded the stage at the Lyceum with a raucous turn that included berating members of the audience and enticing the entire house into chanting along with his most profane lines.
First published in The Times, Thursday February 8 2018
David Harrower’s play, about a young woman in a pre-industrial setting whose life and consciousness are transformed by literacy, is a true contemporary classic, renowned globally, having been staged in some 25 countries since its premiere at Edinburgh’s Traverse in 1995. Indeed, the three-hander is arguably better appreciated abroad than at home, with this revival at the newly restored Perth Theatre only the fourth Scottish production in 20 years.
First published in The Times, Tuesday December 12 2017
There was drama on and offstage at the opening performance of Perth’s pantomime. Ten minutes before the finale, a few too many puffs of smoke triggered the newly refurbishment theatre’s fire alarm system, dispatching cast, crew and audience onto the High Street for an impromptu second interval. Everyone involved took the disruption in good grace. The fire fighters were even called onstage to take a bow when the action resumes.
First published in The Times, Monday December 21 2015
Theatre audiences are spoilt for choice at this time of year, with plenty of serious plays and adaptations available for those with a low tolerance for the traditional pantomime. Annie Siddons’s update of Rapunzel, directed for the Citizens by Lu Kemp, is something of a hybrid, sticking for the most part to the basic outline of the fairy tale but with the plot repeatedly put on hold for lengthy comic digressions and the occasional attempt to break the fourth wall.