Theatre review: Laurel & Hardy – Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Thursday June 9 2022

FOUR STARS

The premise of Tom McGrath’s 1976 play is literally out of this world. Two old pals meet in the afterlife and try to make sense of their career as cinema’s best-loved comic double act. “We’ve been dead for years,” says Stan Laurel, played in Tony Cownie’s revival by Barnaby Power. “The people want to know who we really were.”

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Review: An Edinburgh Christmas Carol – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday December 2 2019

Four Stars

It is always risky to take liberties with a classic, but Tony Cownie’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which transports Dickens’s festive favourite to Auld Reekie in the late 1850s, makes perfect sense. Crawford Logan’s Ebenezer Scrooge, the financier who travels in the course of one long, redemptive night from miser to merrymaker-in-chief, here seems the embodiment of a Presbyterian tradition that distrusts jollity and wouldn’t recognise Christmas Day as a holiday until some 30 years after Dickens’s novella was published.

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Review: The Belle’s Stratagem – Lyceum, Edinburgh

 

First published in The Times, Tuesday February 20 2018

Four Stars

 

While Hannah Cowley is hardly a household name today, the playwright was well known to audiences in the late 18th century, at a time when the theatre was at its peak as a popular art form. Her most successful work, The Belle’s Stratagem, which premiered in 1780, and is a response to George Farquhar’s The Beaux Stratagem, was one of the most revived comedies of the period.

 

While originally set in London, the action transposes neatly to Georgian Edinburgh in Tony Cownie’s sparkling adaptation, with references to the burgeoning New Town, the loyal toast to the “King over the Water” and cameos from luminaries of the period, including the fiddler, Niel Gow.

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Review: Thon Man Molière – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday May 27 2016

Four Stars

 

In the context of Scottish theatre, Molière, the nom-de-plume of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, the 17th century French dramatist and actor, is pretty much synonymous with Liz Lochhead. The playwright and poet has notched up several adaptations into Scots of the comic maestro’s works, including Tartuffe, Le Misanthrope (rechristened Misery Guts) and L’Ecole des Femmes (updated as Educating Agnes).

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Review: What Goes Around – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday September 28 2015

Three Stars

Liz Lochhead’s new play features more layers than a Viennese torte. The rich base is La Ronde: that once-scandalous work by the Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler, famously structured as a chain of sexual encounters that eventually comes full circle. In Lochhead’s version, this “sexual daisy chain” provides the inspiration for a tangy backstage comedy in which multiple characters revolve around an impoverished two-handed production of Schnitzler. The result is frequently entertaining, even if it proves to be not quite the sum of its many parts.

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Reviews: All My Sons – Theatre Royal, Glasgow; My Name Is . . . Summerhall, Edinburgh

Published in The Times, Thursday September 10 2015

All My Sons: Two Stars

My Name Is . . . Three Stars 

Rapture Theatre has not had its problems to seek in reviving Arthur Miller’s first major success for a Scottish tour. First, Paul Shelley, the lead actor, was forced to withdraw from the production due to illness. Then, on opening night, female lead Trudie Goodwin fainted midway through the second act, bravely soldiering on following a temporary halt in proceedings.

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Reviews: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh; The Venetian Twins – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday 1 May 2015

Curious Incident: Four Stars

The Venetian Twins: Four Stars

Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a remarkable coming-of-age story told from the perspective of a teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome. The stage adaptation goes one better, finding more inventive ways to immerse its audience in the heightened point of view of Christopher Boone, the 15-year-old who is great with numbers but not so accomplished with people.

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