Review: The Ugly One – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday July 9 2019

Three Stars

This is the first time Marius von Mayenburg’s 2007 satire has been seen on a Scottish stage but there is much in Debbie Hannan’s production that will be familiar to those with even a sketchy knowledge of the horror genre. The trope of slowly unwrapping bandages from some strangely altered face has been so endlessly sent-up that it surely deserves a subgenre classification of its own.

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Review: Nora: A Doll’s House – Tramway, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Monday March 25 2019

Two Stars

A Doll’s House by Ibsen is one of those theatrical gifts that keep on giving. The play about a middle-class woman, Nora Helmer, who comes to realise that her seemingly perfect marriage is a pretty cage, has been endlessly updated since its premiere in 1879. Lucas Hnath’s sequel, A Doll’s House, Part 2, which speculates on what happened to Nora after she closed the door on her old life, opened on Broadway in 2017.

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Review: The Lying Kind – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Monday July 10

Two Stars

A few lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, describing a world whose seasons are in disarray, perfectly encapsulate the experience of seeing theatre in Scotland at present: “The spring, the summer, the childing autumn, angry winter change their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world, by their increase, now knows not which is which.”

 

Not only is Pitlochry Festival Theatre currently staging Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular, a play set over three consecutive Christmas Eves, the Tron’s summer show is a revival of Anthony Neilson’s The Lying Kind, whose farcical action unfolds against a backdrop of tinsel and holly wreaths.

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Review: Girl in the Machine – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday April 7 2017

Three Stars

How often do we reach for technology – unlock our phones or fire up our laptops – to escape the daily grind or overcome the transient blues? In Stef Smith’s new play, Polly (Rosalind Sydney) and Owen (Michael Dylan) are that enviable couple who appear to have it all: youth, energy, career success and a genuine, burgeoning love. Still, there is something almost inevitable about Polly’s tragic slide into dependency on a seductive new piece of hardware.

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Review: The Lonesome West – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Wednesday July 13

Three Stars

The “West” in this case refers to Leenane in deepest County Galway, yet there is also something of the lawless frontier about Martin McDonagh’s Connemara. As imagined by the acclaimed playwright, the quaint Irish village is a hotbed of murder, domestic violence and dismemberment. As the hapless Father Welsh (Michael Dylan) has it: “I’d have to kill half me relatives to fit into this town.”

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