First published in The Times, Tuesday June 28 2022
The cocktails are waiting on the terrace, the Duke of Westminster’s yacht is moored in the harbour at Deauville, and in the near distance a band is playing Someday I’ll Find You. We are unmistakably in Noël Coward’s sophisticated, world-weary milieu, and though all appears calm on the polished surface of Ken Harrison’s elegantly simple set, fireworks are about to go off.
Continue reading “Theatre review: Private Lives – Pitlochry Festival Theatre”
First published in The Times, Friday June 28 2019
“The action takes place in the Condomines’ house in Kent” runs the succinct programme note for Gemma Fairlie’s revival of Noël Coward’s “improbable farce”. The period setting is less instantly apparent. As designed by Adrian Rees, the interior of the Condomines’ home is clinical and sparse, with doors, drawers and drinks concealed in the gleaming walls. Until the moment when Eddie (David Rankine), the bumbling servant, searches for music on a MacBook, there are few visual clues as to when the devil we are meant to be.
Continue reading “Review: Blithe Spirit – Pitlochry Festival Theatre”
First published in The Times, Friday March 17 2017
Dominic Hill, the artistic director of the Citizens Theatre, has won acclaim and awards in recent years for productions of Crime and Punishment and Hamlet presented on near-bare stages, with only a few essential props and the cast doubling as musicians. While his production of Hay Fever is not as skeletal as his previous shows, the staging here is more restrained than the usual lavish naturalism you get in productions of Coward.
Tom Piper’s set design provides just enough detail to convey the comfortably moth-eaten atmosphere of the Bliss residence. That the wings are in sight of the audience feels wholly appropriate to a play about a family who enact the mother of all pantomimes for the benefit of their houseguests, one of whom decries their antics as “artificial to the point of lunacy”.
Continue reading “Review: Hay Fever – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Thursday June 23 2016
A couple of years back the playwright and actor Clive Francis was charged with dusting down Ben Travers’s 1927 farce for a revival at London’s Park Theatre. “He wasn’t brilliant with endings,” said Francis. “So hopefully with Ben’s voice firmly in my ear I’ve come up with a twist which will be pleasing to a modern day audience, especially those who have never seen the play.”
Continue reading “Review: Thark – Pitlochry Festival Theatre”
First published in The Times, Saturday March 26 2016
At first glance, the new play from David Leddy looks not at all the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from the most audacious of Scotland’s contemporary theatre-makers. We open on a luxurious function room, into which tumbles a quartet of upper crust characters in white tie and cocktail dresses. There’s a trophy wife (Claire Dargo), a self-important crooner (Robin Laing), a celebrated photojournalist (Lesley Hart) and a senior bureaucrat (Selina Boyack).
Continue reading “Review: International Waters – Tron Theatre, Glasgow”