Theatre review: The Signalman – Perth Theatre

First published in The Times, Monday September 27 2021

FOUR STARS

This is not the first time that Peter Arnott, the prolific Scottish dramatist, has explored the Tay Bridge disaster of December 28, 1879. Tay Bridge, his 2019 play, gave voice to some of those who lost their lives when the original Tay Rail Bridge collapsed during a storm, killing all onboard the Burntisland-to-Dundee train, which was crossing at the time. The series of vivid monologues combined to create a broader picture of late 19th century Scottish society.

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Review: North and South – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Saturday September 7 2019

Three Stars

It is easy to see why Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1854 social novel should resonate in an age of Remain versus Leave. The book is structured around a series of binary oppositions. As well as the contrasting of the pastoral south of England, where the heroine Margaret Hale comes of age, with the industrialised north, to which the Hale family moves, Gaskell explores tensions between received wisdom and dissent, authority and a restless workforce, class and conflicting approaches to matters of the heart.

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Review: Before the Party – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Thursday July 26 2018

Three Stars

There is something discomfiting, even perversely fascinating, about watching Rodney Ackland’s 1949 play in the very week that warnings about food shortages and rationing in the event of a hard Brexit have dominated the news agenda. The backdrop to Ackland’s adaptation of a short story by W Somerset Maugham is a Britain caught in the painful aftershocks of the war where almost every conversation contains references to cost and availability.

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Review: Thark – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

First published in The Times, Thursday June 23 2016

Two Stars

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.”

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