Review: Heads Up – Traverse, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday February 27

Three Stars

The stated ambition of Rantin, Kieran Hurley’s acclaimed performance ceilidh, first staged in 2013, was to build a theatrical portrait of what Hugh MacDiarmid described as “our multiform, our infinite Scotland”. The resulting patchwork of text and songs with its “multiple beginnings, abundance of middles and no clear ending” was delivered with warmth, gentle humour and an appealing lack of formality.

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Review: JRR Tolkien’s Leaf by Niggle – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Wednesday April 20 2016

Four Stars

The latest production from Puppet State Theatre Company is adapted from a little-known short story by JRR Tolkien. There’s a caveat, though. As Richard Medrington, the performer, points out in his preamble to a packed audience at the Festival Theatre Studio, this show contains “no wizards, elves or orcs.”


Doubtless this news will disappoint some lovers of Middle Earth, but the author of The Hobbit isn’t the only reason to get excited about this production. Puppet State’s previous show, The Man Who Planted Trees, scored a huge critical and popular success when it debuted ten years ago, and the company has spent much of the decade since touring the show around the world.

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Review: Rapunzel – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Monday December 21 2015

Three Stars


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.

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