Theatre review: The Children – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Saturday March 5 2022

FOUR STARS

It is a tale as old as theatre itself. Two people, in a lonely place, enjoying a delicate equilibrium, are disturbed by an unexpected knock at the door. In walks an unwelcome figure from the past, an avenging angel or perhaps even Death herself, and the fragile balance of the household is instantly and irretrievably broken.

Continue reading “Theatre review: The Children – Dundee Rep”

Panto review: Cinderella – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Thursday December 9 2021

THREE STARS

The Fairy Godmother of All Pantos is the strapline for the big show at the Glasgow King’s this year, a reference not only to the pre-eminence of Cinderella within the canon but also the popularity of its star, Elaine C Smith, one of the few women in the business with a marquee name.

Continue reading “Panto review: Cinderella – King’s Theatre, Glasgow”

Review: The Metamorphosis – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday March 17 2020

Five Stars

Vanishing Point, the Glasgow-based theatre company led by Matthew Lenton, tends to develop much of its acclaimed, highly distinctive work in rehearsal, often creating radical versions of plays such as Maurice Maeterlinck’s Interiors and John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera. However, the company’s stunning take on Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis (in collaboration with the Tron and Italy’s Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione) is remarkably faithful to its source, and it marks a culmination of Lenton’s concerns and signature style.

Continue reading “Review: The Metamorphosis – Tron Theatre, Glasgow”

Review: Tay Bridge – Dundee Rep

First published in The Times, Thursday September 5 2019

Three Stars

The City of Discovery’s best-known stories and characters inspire all the shows in Dundee Rep’s 80th anniversary programme. The season has opened on perhaps the most infamous event in the city’s history: the collapse of the original Tay Bridge during a gale in December 1879 with the loss of all 75 people making the journey by train from Fife to Dundee that night.

Continue reading “Review: Tay Bridge – Dundee Rep”

Review: Interference – City Park, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Thursday March 21 2019

Three Stars

The National Theatre of Scotland’s motto of “theatre without walls” has led the company to stage its work in offbeat venues, from pubs and village halls to an airport lounge and a swimming pool.

 

The setting for this trio of new plays on the theme of technology is no less striking: a corner of a sprawling office complex that once housed a cigarette factory. While its façade is imposing, inside the building is much more anonymous. As we make our way from the reception area through the central courtyard and beyond, all signs of human life start to disappear.

Continue reading “Review: Interference – City Park, Glasgow”

Review: The Dark Carnival – Tramway, Glasgow

First published in The Times, Tuesday February 26 2019

Four Stars

Visions of the afterlife in drama can range from the terrifying to the strangely reassuring. Vanishing Point’s meditation on death, the torment of grief and the comforts of the supernatural imagines Hamlet’s “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns” as a gothic mirror of the world above ground, in which the dead reciprocate the pain and grief of the living.

Continue reading “Review: The Dark Carnival – Tramway, Glasgow”

Review: Knives in Hens – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Thursday February 8 2018

Four Stars

David Harrower’s play, about a young woman in a pre-industrial setting whose life and consciousness are transformed by literacy, is a true contemporary classic, renowned globally, having been staged in some 25 countries since its premiere at Edinburgh’s Traverse in 1995. Indeed, the three-hander is arguably better appreciated abroad than at home, with this revival at the newly restored Perth Theatre only the fourth Scottish production in 20 years.

Continue reading “Review: Knives in Hens – Perth Theatre”

Review: Aladdin – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Tuesday December 12 2017

Three Stars

There was drama on and offstage at the opening performance of Perth’s pantomime. Ten minutes before the finale, a few too many puffs of smoke triggered the newly refurbishment theatre’s fire alarm system, dispatching cast, crew and audience onto the High Street for an impromptu second interval. Everyone involved took the disruption in good grace. The fire fighters were even called onstage to take a bow when the action resumes.

Continue reading “Review: Aladdin – Perth Theatre”

Review: Our Fathers – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Friday October 27 2017

Three Stars

A religious upbringing can cling to even the staunchest atheist like the lingering smell of incense. For the theatre director Nicholas Bone and Rob Drummond, the acclaimed playwright, both sons of clergymen, the institutional memories and associations of religion are rather harder to shrug off.

Continue reading “Review: Our Fathers – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh”

Review: Glory on Earth – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

First published in The Times, Thursday May 25 2017

Three Stars

John Knox (Jamie Sives) stands at the front of the stage, watching the audience file into the auditorium. Clad in black, with Bible in hand, he is utterly immobile save for his eyes, which roam the stalls, picking out individual audience members and holding them with an unyielding gaze.

 

It is a discomforting start to Linda McLean’s new play about the 16th century Scottish Reformer – who was credited with founding the Presbyterian Church – and his various exchanges with that other great icon of the period, Mary, Queen of Scots. The feeling of unease provoked by this opening gambit will be familiar to anyone who has passed under the stare of the statue of Knox that is at the entrance of the Assembly Hall on the Mound in Edinburgh – ironically now a major venue every August during the Festival Fringe.

Continue reading “Review: Glory on Earth – Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh”