Review: After the Cuts – Summerhall, Edinburgh

 

First published in The Times, Wednesday August 15 2018

Three Stars

Most speculative writing takes its inspiration from the way we live now. The action of Gary McNair’s two-hander begins in 2042, but there is nothing high-tech about the playwright’s vision of the future. His protagonists, Agnes (Pauline Knowles) and Jim (George Docherty), live in a tiny house surrounded by threadbare furniture. The greatest luxury the couple can afford is a rare Blue Riband biscuit, ordered online and cherished like vintage malt whisky.

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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: Jumpy – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Tuesday November 1 2016

Two Stars

This revival of April de Angelis’s 2011 play was due to mark the return of Daniela Nardini (best known as Anna in This Life) to the Lyceum’s stage for the first time in 22 years. When Nardini was forced to withdraw for personal reasons, the redoubtable Pauline Knowles stepped in to replace her in the role of Hilary, the protagonist of this tragicomedy about a woman on the cusp of turning 50 who is battling crises on every front.

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Review: This Restless House – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Thursday May 5 2016

Four Stars

There’s a wealth of Greek literature in Scottish theatre at present. The blood is still wet on the stage at Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum (during the current run of Chris Hannan’s adaptation of Homer’s Iliad), as the curtain begins to rise on this ambitious reimagining of Aeschylus’s Oresteia trilogy, with a punchy, contemporary version of the text by the playwright Zinnie Harris.

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Reviews: The Little Mermaid – Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Monday November 30 2015

The Little Mermaid: Four Stars

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Three Stars

 

With its red-haired heroine, shimmering backcloth and bold, primary-coloured costumes, this year’s Christmas show at the Macrobert owes as much of a debt of influence to Walt Disney as it does to Hans Christian Andersen. The witty, up-to-date script and irreverent atmosphere are very much in keeping with what we’ve come to expect from the Stirling panto, however. We’ve barely taken our seats before Drop Dead Gorgeous Daz (played by Robert Jack in the same fright wig he wore last year as Wishee Washee) lets off the show’s first fart gag, and this pretty much sets the tone for the next two hours.

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Review: Crazy Jane – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Monday June 1 2015

Three Stars

The name Jane Avril may not be instantly recognisable but the French can-can dancer’s image and appearance have long acquired iconic status. A star of the infamous Moulin Rouge nightclub in the late 19th century, she was known for her idiosyncratic style of dance, regularly attracting the unsentimental gaze of the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

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