Review: Blackbird – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday March 1 2016

Four Stars

The old adage has it that you’re never more than six feet away from a rat, but something similar could be said of David Harrower’s Blackbird. The Scottish dramatist’s disturbing two-hander, which premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2005, is even now in the midst of a run on Broadway and has been adapted for film, to be released later in the year.

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Review: The Choir – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Thursday November 5 2015

Four Stars

Talk about prescient. This new play with songs revolving around the members of a North Lanarkshire choir opened in the week Oxford University published a study suggesting that community singing can play a powerful role in reducing loneliness and promoting social cohesion.

The list of problems afflicting the characters in The Choir – book by Paul Higgins with music by Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue – is seemingly endless, touching upon mental illness and bereavement, unemployment, marital breakup and class tensions. The play’s message – there’s no heartache so great it can’t be solved by a rousing singsong – may sound facile, but it is communicated with such verve and commitment in Dominic Hill’s production that you end up forgiving the conventional sentimentality of the storytelling.

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