First published in The Times, Wednesday August 10 2022
Three sisters gather in their childhood home following the death of their mother, to bid farewell, tie up loose ends and hunt for a missing will. There are long-held grievances to unpack and sort through, along with mum’s belongings.
The disparate siblings navigate their grief in different ways. Anna (Philippa Hogg), the eldest, newly returned from the US, is in practical mode, making plans and taking charge, much to the irritation of middle sister Maia (Keshini Misha), a self-described “hot mess”, who couch-surfs and drifts between jobs.
Continue reading “Edinburgh review: Blood Harmony – Traverse Theatre”
First published in The Times, Saturday August 6 2022
The Good Friday Agreement has been much in the news lately, whether in the context of wrangles over the future of the Northern Ireland protocol, or as the backdrop to the highly praised final episode of the sitcom Derry Girls. The Easter weekend of 1998 is also the setting for Michael John O’Neill’s powerful monologue, This is Paradise, but the spectacle of triumphant politicians with pens in hands and the weight of history on their shoulders is held very much at one remove.
Continue reading “Edinburgh review: This is Paradise – Traverse Theatre”
First published in The Times, Saturday August 6 2022
This endearing comedy focuses on the ups and downs of a friendship that evolves over several years, but the two protagonists of Tabby Lamb’s play only briefly meet in person. Teenagers Al (Sam Crerar) and Bette (Allie Daniel) strike up a virtual rapport in cyberspace sometime in the early Noughties, and quickly graduate from primitive online gaming to something altogether deeper and more meaningful.
Continue reading “Edinburgh review: Happy Meal – Traverse Theatre”
First published in The Times, Thursday October 17 2019
It seems that you can’t move these days for stage adaptations of literary works. A familiar title is a strong draw, whether it’s the dramatisation of Matt Haig’s mental health memoir Reasons to Stay Alive or the National Theatre of Scotland’s production of Red Dust Road, which just completed its Scottish tour.
Continue reading “Review: The Panopticon – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Friday October 12 2018
It is fitting that Clare Duffy’s play should open in the week that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of catastrophic global warming unless governments, corporations and individuals take unprecedented action. Environmental activism, the fate of the planet and personal responsibility are the big themes Duffy has set out to explore here.
Continue reading “Review: Arctic Oil – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Friday February 16 2018
The comedian Mark Thomas is clearly a man who relishes a challenge. The inspiration for this show came to him while he was in the West Bank to promote Extreme Rambling, his book chronicling his experience of walking the length of the Israeli West Bank separation barrier in 2010. Could he, he wondered, set up and run a comedy club in Gaza for one night only?
While Hamas-controlled Gaza proved too much of a stretch even for Thomas, the veteran political comedian and his team eventually settled on running a series of workshops in the West Bank city of Jenin with actors from the Jenin Freedom Theatre, culminating in a comedy showcase for the students.
Continue reading “Review: Showtime from the Frontline – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Thursday December 14 2017
If you peer closely enough into the murky corners of Becky Minto’s set for this new play by Morna Pearson, you will spot a tiny Christmas tree, lying on its side and pathetically decorated with a couple of strands of tinsel. At the end of the play’s 90-minute running time, snow floats gently down over the stage.
Continue reading “Review: How to Disappear – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Friday October 27 2017
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”
First published in The Times, Thursday August 24 2017
Inua Ellams first came to the attention of fringe audiences with his award-winning one-man show The 14th Tale, in which the poet, playwright and performer told stories of his childhood in Nigeria, London and Dublin. Passages of Ellams’s first stage success find their way into this vivid, multi-layered piece of storytelling. The autobiographical building blocks are the same, but here the performer allows his righteous anger – as well as his considerable charm and generosity of spirit – free rein.
Continue reading “Review: An Evening with an Immigrant – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh”
First published in The Times, Friday August 18 2017
The painter Marc Chagall often depicted himself and his first wife, Bella Rosenfeld, as lovers floating through the air. An equally poignant image is that of Bella “with white collar” as a giant standing over a pastoral landscape. Chagall would outlive his great love by some 40 years, but her vitality and quiet strength would loom large in his work until he died.
Continue reading “Review: The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh”