Monthly Archives: October 2014
22 Oct – 8 Nov
50p – £20.50
The Mumble’s first foray into Glasgow’s theatrical scene was at the Citizens Theatre, an old establishment with an interesting programme of events. It presents entertainment that is palatable for all age groups over the calendar year. It is easily accessible from town centre with good public transport links. Theatre is reasonably priced and it encourages smaller production theatre companies to use the venue for their productions.
On this occasion we were treated to KILL JOHNNY GLENDENNING, a comedy set in the West of Scotland which tramples the fine lines between conflict, carnage and good old-fashioned honest criminality. More of a rampage than a romp, its earthy language and not for the faint hearted, this play is brilliantly performed. It has a tense dark, grisly side but the mood is lifted by the humour and the gentle pace in which it is acted out.
Act 1- A farmhouse in the Ayrshire countryside where two would be goons, Dominic (Philip Cairns) and Skootch, (Josh Whitelaw) hold kidnapped tabloid journalist Bruce,-(Steven McNicoll) and await the arrival of their boss Andrew MacPherson (Paul Samson). The drama unfolds with the accidental killing of tabloid journalist, Bruce (Steven McNicoll) by Dominic (Philip Cairns) & Skootch (Josh Whiteaw) who are keeping a watchful eye over Bruce whilst gangster boss, MacPherson (Paul Samson) is on route to deal with him.The arrival of Macpherson brings a few moments of reality to the proceedings, until reggae-loving, ex revolutionary Johnny Glendenning (David Ireland) drops in and mayhem ensues.
Act 2 Set as a prequel to the first act, it takes place in the home of the sleazy journalist where we meet Kimberley (Joanne Thomson), partner of Dominic and niece to MacPherson, & find out just how circumstance led us to the farm, bring resolution to this complex tale.
The playwright, DC Jackson, doesn’t pull punches, (although the cast did once or twice in the fight scenes). The dialogue is wryly observed and well executed with just a few nods to the contemporary technological world we live in.All the cast did a grand job but for me it was David Ireland who stole the show with his portrayal of psychotic Johnny Glendenning, who gave a masterful performance as a psychotic throwback to “the Troubles” Elsewhere, Samson’s understated performance is reminiscent of the casual brutality of Glasgow crime bosses in the 1980’s, and although both Cairns and Whitelaw play their scenes for laughs, their very clumsiness gives a sinister reality to the business at hand. Ireland produces . His menacing character see-saws through the hee-haws and gasps of the audience with a hilarious and sometimes frightening flair.
All in all, this was an interesting and entertaining outing; one to whet the appetite for future collaborations between Citizens and Royal Lyceum. THREE STARS
Reviewer : Cai Storrie
Mon 27 October to Sat 1 November
Evenings 19.30pm (Matinees Wed & Sat 14.30pm)
Agatha Christie’s, The Mousetrap has been performed continuously for over 60 years, racking up more than 25,000 performances in UK. It’s the longest running show in British History. The astonishing longevity is testament to the strength of the original script and to audiences that never tire of a well-made who-dunnit. The West End production is touring the country and has a short run in the sumptuous surroundings of Edinburgh’s recently refurbished Kings Theatre and continues this incredible legacy with a robust performance of the classic play in front of a packed house.
The story for those who don’t know it involves an eccentric collection of guests at rural English guesthouse, Monkswell Manor, cut off by snow in a bad storm. There’s been a murder in London and when a connected murder happens in the guesthouse the finger of suspicion falls on 7 of the 8-strong ensemble. The eight, of course, has been murdered. Everyone has their secrets to keep and accusations to make.
The somewhat clichéd, characters (think Cluedo) stay true to the time-tested narrative and the if-it-aint-broke-don’t-fix-it approach, whilst playing safe with the production, ensures it does exactly what the audience paid their money for as we are drawn into the web of intrigue at Giles and Mollie Ralston’s (Henry Luxemburg & Helen Clapp) newly opened guest house. Simple but effective lighting and a believable period set add as much to the production as the solid casting and humorous and twisting script. A well-timed interlude brings us into the 2nd part of the play which ramps up the element of suspense and tension. The devious plot makes you suspect one character then another and keeps the audience guessing until the very end.
As the cast take their bow, they plead with us in time-honoured fashion to not divulge the murderer to anyone outside the theatre so as not to spoil the surprise for future audiences. After 60 years of this I’m going to keep mum. Here’s to another 60 years. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : David McMenemy
28 Oct – 1 Nov
13.00 (plus 19.00 show Friday)
£12 (including pie & pint)
“Money means power and freedom.
Who’s not interested in that?”
There was something terribly infectious about this rendition of Andy Duffy’s one-man monologue, Crash. The play is essentially a guy on a chair chatting away, & as he took his first tentative steps through the script, I found myself thinking this might not be the most enjoyable hour of my life – yet within five minutes or so those baby steps had become Vishnu-like strides, by the end of which march I was left wishing for more.
The story revolves around the wheeler-dealings of yer classic money-making stock-market trader, whose life slowly begins to unravel around him, hence the plays title of ‘Crash.’ From family life to the angry cut & thrust of his often desperate profession, we gain a real insight into the tragic possibilities that surrounds such a culture.
With the entire play being performed solo, it is only the tony-blair like hand movements that offer any real visual stimulation. The script, however, was excellent… peppered with witticisms, Crash is a modern take on a classic theme, & would not have been out of place at the theater of Dionysus in Pesistratan Athens, whose audience would enjoyed similar rhapsodic performances. The intensity was perfectly pitched, with the plot’s disparate nuances rising to the climax like ribbons on a maypole. Plus the pie & pint were well tasty today (bacon gravy). FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Damo Bullen
Tue 21 to Sat 25 October 2014
Matinees Wed & Sat 2.30pm
The Tron Threatre Company has been based in Glasgow since 1979. Director Andy Arnold aims to bring exceptional professional productions of premium newly written plays to the patrons of Scotland. Their most recent creation, The Three Sisters, rewritten by Playwright John Byrne (Tutti Frutti, The Slab Boys) has been given a distinctly Scottish twist. Chekhov’s great classic of modern theatre was originally set in Moscow at the turn of the twentieth century. Here Byrne transports Chekhov’s piece into a far from swinging sixties Dunoon naval base.
Set one year after their fathers death, the three now orphaned sisters Maddy, Renee and Olive (played by Muireann Kelly, Jessica Hardwick and Sally Reid) reminisce of life back in London. After spending the last eleven years in dull lifeless Argyllshire, they yearn to return to the cosmopolitan opulence of the big city. They hope to sell the decaying, once privileged home they share with their intellectual brother, Archie (Jonathon Watson) and move to Carnaby Street so that a life of love, culture, and adventure can finally begin. Depressed in their surroundings, the winter brings the cold and summer brings the midges!
Youngest daughter, Renee’s innocent dreams are stifled by work and fatigue. Her sister, Maddy appears to be in a constant bad mood, despondent after being married off too early to a self-important twerp. The eldest, Olive is stuck in a job she hates and pines for a husband. Archie falls in love with local bonny lass, Natasha, who develops into his ill-mannered vulgar wife, while he in turn descends into a debt ridden gambling addict. Live-in Dr MacGillivery was in love with the sisters’ deceased mother. Shy but rude navy officer Maloney is rejected by Renne. Their old servant, Dorbie is constantly exhausted, but has nowhere else to go. Every character appears to be melancholic in one way or another, be it through love, money, career or regret. Even the promise of a romantic visitor, the unhappily married naval Admiral McShane ends in misery for Maddy.
The stage set is skillfully controlled by freeze frame acts, one graceful scene change from interior to exterior and sympathetic lighting throughout. Chekhov’s tragi-comedic production documents the decay of the upper class and the search for meaning in the modern world. The pace lingers in parts, wallowing in the personal misery of the individual cast members, however the ensemble presents a dramatic piece of theatre depicting the struggle to survive in unfamiliar territory. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Sarah Lewis
13.00 (plus 19.00 show Friday)
£12 (including pie & pint)
Performed in the intimate space of Trav2, “Squash” by Martin McCormick is the story of a thief being caught in the act… On the surface at least. All the action takes place in Ma and Bald’s 18th floor flat, a messy living room where old Beano magazines are strewn all over the floor, and décor that would not look out of place in the 80’s. The cheap tacky pictures and ornaments which clutter the unit shelves, along with the vintage spin dial telephone would lead you to believe that this scene is set at least a couple of decades ago. However all is not what it seems.
The play begins with Bald (Keith Flemming) throwing bike thief Paul (Cristian Ortega) to the floor as Ma (Anne Lacey) watches on. We realises quickly that Bald suffers from severe intellectual disability which requires Ma to direct him through every single step of the interrogation. Bald is endearing from the word go, and Flemming captures the innocence and naivety of someone which such a mental affliction beautifully. He is instantly believable and never for a moment does he allow his performance to be generic, his portrayal is delightfully detailed and thought through.
Ma is very much in control of the situation, directing her son every step of the way through the play. She is stern, serious and downright intimidating. Throughout the play there is something bubbling under the surface to which the reasons are hinted at but never fully explained. Ma is on the periphery of madness herself but lucid enough to know how to control her boy. She is very distrustful and particularly suspicious of the “the ethnics” a suggestion that is made a few times throughout the play. Setting foot in Ma’s house is like stepping back in time, not only visually but in terms of her wariness of minorities. It is a very strong performance from Lacey who keeps the audience guessing with Ma’s fluctuations in mood and sanity throughout, assisted by the mystery white powder she takes to calm herself.
Paul is quiet and scared but gradually grows into the play as his character grows more confident/desperate. There is uncertainty about Paul as the play unfolds, on one hand he is adamant he did not steal Bald’s bike, but on the other he does not want to police to become involved. Again the performance is solid and without giving too much away there is some very nice variety throughout. Martin McCormick’s Squash is a rollercoaster that keeps you guessing throughout, shifting from hilarious to disturbing in a beat. These shifts are aided by the atmospheric sound design of Lewis Den Hertog and is enough to make you squirm in your seat. The collective excellence of the writing, sound design and performances on stage make this a truly immersive experience for the audience. By the end it has thrown up so many questions about the characters, their history and relationships you will be left debating with your friends in the bar for hours afterwards! FIVE STARS
Reviewer : James Garvock
13.00 (plus 19.00 friday)
£12 (inc. pie & pint)
Verging on the edge of old-age dementia, AJ Taudevin’s ‘Mrs Barbour’s Daughters’ begins with Mary (Anna Hepburn) perched on her fading armchair listening to her old ‘wireless.’ Not long after she is joined by her ditty-singing, wide-smiling niece/care-worker Joan (Libby McArthur), who tries her best to cheer up her old auntie. For Mary, the respite from her old-age angst is only temporary, for as soon as Joan leaves, Mary is left with her memories.
These are set in & before World war Two, & constitute the tensions between Mary & her sister, Grace (Gail Watson) which led to a 50-year, unresolved feud. The backdrop is the suffragette movement, which helps to shape an amazing scene which sees the stage floor filled with anthem-singing theater staff. The play’s Glaswegian setting, is an apt choice, for of all of Scotland’s cities, this was the one to really embrace the quest for the female vote.
I often find multi-generational theater a difficult vehicle for the Coleridgean ‘suspension of disbelief’ – but through the medium of nostalgic vignettes it all plays out rather well indeed. Of the two ‘arenas,’ I found the modern-day pieces eminently more enjoyable; Anna Hepburn makes a very engaging ‘woman of a certain age,’ who portrayed her borderline dementia with panache. A fine play – THREE STARS.
Reviewer – Damo Bullen
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
Post-festival season, the Mumble was up & running again just in time to review DC Jackson’s black comedy, Kill Johnny Glendenning, at the Lyceum. It begins in a run-down, horror set of an Ayrshire farmhouse where we meet Glasgow gangsters, Dominic (Philip Cairns) and Skootch (Josh Whitelaw) who have kidnapped tabloid journo, Bruce (Steven McNicoll) and are awaiting the arrival of their underworld boss, MacPherson (Paul Samson). What ensues is a double-act of hilarious exchanges, followed by bloody scenes of revenge and filled with dramatic tension all the way up to the surprise denouement of Act 1. In Act 2 we flashback to a West End flat in Glasgow and the events which lead up to the action in the previous act are revealed.
This is a strong ensemble piece with some excellent comic performances. In particular, David Ireland’s psychotic, Aswad-loving, ex-paramilitary Johnny Glendenning who bristles with menace. Kern Falconer is a scene stealer as deadpan hick, Auld Jim and reminds us exactly why he is one of Scotland’s finest character actors. The only weak point within this production was the clumsily-executed fight sequences which lacked authenticity at times. However, it’s DC Jackson’s ninja-sharp script which is the real star of this production.
The gallows humour, rapid-fire dialogue, uncompromising violence and engaging plot put him in league with contemporaries such as Martin McDonagh and it will only be a matter of time before his talent propels him into the major leagues. FOUR STARS
Reviewer: Gill Monaghan
Traverse Theatre – Cambridge Street
9th – 11th October £16
Enthral and intrigue pepper this evening’s anticipation as the audience settle down for this unique and individual performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit ; a ground breaking and challenging theatrical experiment by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour. Unable to leave his native country due to his stance as a conscientious objector, he chooses instead to travel the world figuratively, by delivering his play worldwide through some of the biggest names in theatre and film, and proposing some profound and radical questions along the way.
The actor for this evening, Siobhan Redmond, accomplished both on stage and screen, is given the daunting task of having had no direction or rehearsals nor any glimpse of the script. She reveals the script for the first time from a sealed envelope on a stage reminiscent of some dark Shakespearean production, devoid of props, sparse and minimal, leaving everything to the acting and imagination.
Audience members are plucked randomly to join her on the sparse stage where we are encouraged to explore and consider profound, surreal and often poignant ideas, punctuated with wit and comedy, through the narrator of Solemanpour’s absent form. He explains his ability to taste and explore the cities he has dreamt about, to sit with the audience and discuss his concepts, communicating through time and space by virtue of his play. This is his means of connecting with the world he has been banned from exploring by the confines of the circus he is captive within. But his metaphorical connection with the world allows exploration, transcending both time and space, of the concepts of conformity, pacifism, obedience and control.
Is he still alive? He is talking to us onstage and the possibilities are there to be explored, but we are left with the answers ringing through our ears in the fashion of a Greek tragedy. Forever reliant on an improvisational, dynamic actor to maintain the fluidity, Siobhan Redmond does not fail to deliver with her effortless and charismatic storytelling abilities and sharp-witted narrative. This is a highly entertaining and interesting theatrical piece from an intelligent playwright which challenges some difficult social concepts. FOUR STARS
Reviewer Teri Welsh
Sunset Song Tues 7th-Saturday 11th October Kings Theatre, Edinburgh 7pm. £14 – £27.50
Most of us are familiar with Sunset Song, compulsory reading material for a lot of us in school, and yet undoubtedly one of the all time Scottish classics. As I took my seat among a gaggle of teenagers on a school trip it reminded me of my first encounter with this book. It is the story of a farming community in the North East of Scotland at the turn of the century, and in particular the life of one woman, Chris Guthrie. Unlike most of those around her, she escapes into books, and dares to dream of a life outside of the one she was born into. The story deals with the bleak life and hard toil of the farming folks during this time, and reveals the choices, or lack of them, for woman living in this dreich, relentless landscape. And yet intertwined in the lives of these ordinary people are tales of love and duty, heroics and cruelty, and all the while the enduring nature of the land. We witness in one lifetime the changing faces of a family, a community, and ultimately a culture, as the Great War arrives and in it’s wake rips apart this simple way of life forever.
This adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel takes on a raw challenge and delivers it with a subtle honesty, faithful to the story and the lyrical doric language that portrays this unique place in time. The performance of Rebecca Elise as Chris is captivating, as indeed are the performances of all of the cast. Together they seamlessly weave scenes and years into an epic performance, punctuated by traditional song and curlew call, that carry this story through the years. This is a powerful and well delivered depiction of an individual and of a community living through a turbulent and transformative period in Scotland’s history. Enduring hope and a realisation of the inevitability of change are the recurrent themes, and is repeated throughout, ‘Nothing endures but the land’. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Glenda Rome