Monthly Archives: May 2015
Websters Theatre, Glasgow
The Webster’s Theatre in Glasgow is a suitably cavernous stage for the New College Lanakshire’s 2015 BA rep season. Their first play, David Greig’s San Diego, is a fitting choice for the bouncing energy of these youthful troupes, our proffessional actors & actresses of the future. Pulling off San Diego is not an easy task, but they did it well & with some great realism. The play is actually ‘dream’ of Mr Greig’s, set in the visceral streets of down town San Diego, & pregnant with the darker aspects of living, such as self-harming, hospitalized young ladies & street-wise San Diegan hookers, with Greig’s own death at the hands of a random stabbing the centre piece of teh action. of the play Greig states;
“I wrote San Diego during a one month residency at Hawthornden Castle near Edinburgh. The month began with a heavy snowfall and I remember leaning out of my cold tower room to smoke, looking out at the barren trees, and listening to the drip of the snowmelt. There was a rule of daytime silence at the castle with the result that, for a month, I lived almost entirely in my own head. I committed myself to writing the first thing that came into my mind without questioning it – I wanted to throw myself entirely on the mercy of my subconscious. This was the result”.
Greig’s Wolfeian Stream of Consciousness isn’t as dreamy as you think, & in the hands of the New College troupe there were many a moment to resonate with the modern mind. An excellent play played excellently.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Play, Pie, Pint
The Oran Mor has a knack for serving diverse theatrical slices with its pies & pints, & ‘Thoughts Spoken Aloud From Above’ really does take the biscuit. A Russian play, by the celebrated Yuri Kladiev (translated by by Alexandra Smith), we are taken on a Yellow-Submarine like journey through a series of observational vignettes. The play is acted with an almost inebriating desire by Simon Donaldson & Kirsty Stuart, who enact Kladiev’s global tour with a deft & delicate touch.
Surreal situations abound throughout the play, from penguins parleying with cannibals in the Antarctic, to spaced-out cosmonauts ruminating upon the chronic Wastelands of Modern Life. At times, the script rises to the heights of pure poetry, & by the end of the play one is left with a feeling of pleasant confusion, & not sure exactly what has just happened. Yet as they say, the journey is the destination, & there is a genuine warmth to this play that manages to pack into its hour more interest & subtle theme-variations than about five British plays of the same length. I am not qualified to say if anything was lost in the the translation, but ‘Thoughts Spoken Aloud From Above is an excellent piece,’ & equally as excellent a production.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen
Eden Court – One Touch Theatre
24th May 2015
In her one woman hit show,which is based on the life of Nina Simone, Apphia Campbell tells the story of Mena Bordeaux. As a child Mena was a classical piano prodigy, her hopes to establish herself as one of the first African American classical pianists were destroyed when she was rejected from the esteemed Curtis Institute of Music, she was unable to full fill her potential in this area but forged a career as a world class jazz musician.
The scene is set in a bedroom, which Mena has shut herself away in for three days, to perform a spiritual and physical cleansing after the death of her father, whom she had not spoken to in over a year. There is a battered brown leather suitcase full of treasured memories, her dads jacket and shoes, old love letters and the rejection letter from Curtis. She clutches a photo of her daddy and speaks to him, recounting memories from her life, the conflict with her religious mother who believed Jazz was the devils music, loves lost, unhappy relationships, dealing with racism and her involvement with the civil rights movement.
Apphia Campbell gives a spellbinding performance throughout with flawless transitions between characters, which she plays with great emotion and poise. The use of sound bites from the civil rights movement, speeches by Martin Luther King and J F Kennedy, and a heart stopping moment when it is announced Martin Luther King has been killed added poignancy to the story, especially with the current racial tension in the US at the moment.The story is intelligently interspersed with Nina Simone’s songs, which are sung so beautifully by Apphia, her voice has an amazing raw quality, every time she started singing I got chills down my spine. The final scene where Mena connects with here father and receives his forgiveness, followed by Apphia belting out “Feeling Good” was stunning! Going by the standing ovation by the audience at the end, everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.
Reviewer : Zoe Gwynne
Webster Theatre Glasgow,
This play performed by City of Glasgow College students who believe that it is “Shakespeare’s themes that make his plays eternal and relevant to modern audiences.His language is rich,evocative and often misunderstood therefor we have placed our production within the often misunderstood realms of youth culture particularly PUNK!”
Not your typical thespian offering then? Certainly not, this Shakespeare work has been shook up,intensified and a whole new musical score thrown in.We were indulged in Siouxsie and The Banshees “Spellbound” The Clash’s “Should I stay or should I go?” Madness’”Baggy Trousers”and The Skids “Into the valley”
The attire might have been wildly different but the plot didn’t deviate too much.But when it did,it made for great theatrical and colloquial entertainment.
Egeus, an Athenian nobleman with a self styed Leonardo DiCaprio look about him, enters Theseus’s court with his daughter, Hermia, and two punks, Demetrius and Lysander. Egeus demands Hermia to marry Demetrius (who loves Hermia), but Hermia is in love with Lysander and refuses to comply. Egeus asks for the full penalty of law to fall upon Hermia’s head if she disobeys her father’s will. Theseus gives Hermia until his own wedding to Hippolyta to consider her options, warning her that ignoring her father’s wishes will result in her being sent to a convent or worse, the death penalty. Despite this, Hermia and Lysander plan to escape Athens that night . Helena (who was once engaged to Demetrius and still loves him even though he jilted her after meeting Hermia) tells Demetrius of the elopement that Hermia and Lysander have planned. At the appointed time, Demetrius stalks into the woods after Hermia and Lysander with Helena close behind.
In the woods we meet Oberon, the fairy king, (Khumbo Misanjo) and Titania, his Pre-Raphaelite Queen fairy. We are also introduced to a band of Athenian actors rehearsing a play directed by the amusing Quince(Aisha Marr).
Oberon sends his well intentioned servant Puck into the woods with a magical flower, the juice of which makes the recipient fall in love with the first thing he or she sees upon waking. Tatania wakes up to discover she is temporarily in love with Bottom, one of the actors who has been turned by Puck into an ass.The irony of this is not missed by the crowd. Titania passes a ludicrous interlude doting on the ass-headed Wiltshire accented thespian.
Having seen Demetrius act cruelly toward Helena, Oberon gets Puck to spread some of the juice on the eyelids of the “man in the leather jacket”. Puck encounters Lysander and Hermia in the forrest and assumes that Lysander is Demetrius (because he is also in leather).Puck afflicts him with the love potion. Lysander awakes and falls deeply and hysterically in love with Helena immediately abandoning Hermia. Both Hermia and Helena are confused at Demetrius and Lysander now vying for Helena ,who had been so rejected earlier. Helena had given a great performance in an earlier scene when she was trying to win back Demetrius ,clinging to his leg as he tried to shake her off
“I am your spaniel”….beg beg…”Oh you do me mischief…we were made to woo.I’ll find happiness in my misery,Get back here”as she chased him off the stage.The words themselves weren’t funny but the actions were.Her antics were so well acted that she won us over with her clandestine dog impersonation.
Jilted Hermia exclaims ”you cheat,you fake you love thief” to bewildered Helena telling her of her luck “that my nails can’t reach your eyes”-she is vertically challenged compared to Helena’s lofty stature. There is a lot of Glesga creative licence going on with Demetrius and Lysander fighting in untypical Shakespeare verse
“come here ya bottlemerchant”
Helena believes that all three(Hermia,Demitrius and Lysander) are mocking her. Hermia becomes so jealous that she has a square go with Helena which is done in true comedy romp style and highly amusing for the audience.
One of the highlights is Puck re-arranging the exhausted post fight bodies of Hermia and Lysander together and Helena and Dimitris so that they will definitely see and fall for each other when they wake up after Puk’s secondary attempt to put things right via the love potion.Alls well that ends well.Demetrius now loves Helena, and Lysander now loves Hermia.
The lovers watch Bottom and his fellow craftsmen perform their play hilarious version of the story of Pyramus and bearded, dress wearing, booted (with different coloured socks)Thisbe.This involves trying to kiss each other through a chink in a wall.After the kiss Thisbe states
‘Oh I kissed the walls’ hole’.The wall then tells us
‘I’ve played my part, I the wall will depart’
and as she turns the audience is able to read the graffiti on her back that
‘Bottom is an arse’
Thisbe looks out at the audience trying to find Pyramis
‘Where is my love?’
Immediately he is heckled by a middle aged woman in the audience
“Here I am Baby”
Well, that was it,the whole theatre erupted.Thisbe was unfazed and equally amused as he took control of finishing the play within a play.
Thisbe in broad Glaswegian had the audience in the palm of her (his) hand with such an exaggerated command of Shakespeare iambic pentameter which is sidesplittingly humorous in this Scottish dialect. Bottom eventually stabs himself as Pyramis in Quinces play
“Die,Die”repeatedly in his boulder holder Wiltshire slang which was funny enough tIll one of the onlooking fairies laments
“just die,it’s getting ridiculous,” in a deadpan aside which doesn’t seem scripted.
“Now,I’m dead” Bottom has his last word which prompts the daft dressed Thisbe to commit suicide as well to his comic Glesga, “Adieu Adieu Adieu”
Puck remains, to ask the audience for its forgiveness and to clap hands and sing along to “Come on Eileen” for the final joyous dance.
So yes, this is not your typical William and I commend the young actors for their creative adaptation.
Reviewer Clare Crines
With the flick of a light the reflective glass box on the main stage of the Citizens Theatre has become a room. The audience have become voyeurs. Journalist Citta Sereny (Blythe Duff) is interviewing war criminal Franz Stangl (Cliff Burnett) about his role at the Second World War extermination camp, Treblinka. As Sereny calmly chips away at her subject, we gain unparalleled insight into the mind of a monster. Descriptions of early beatings from his abusive father: ‘stop it!’ his mother cried, ‘you’re getting blood all over my clean walls,’ precede depictions of his evil descent through the Nazi ranks, from police officer to death camp Commandant. Stangl’s stoic stance that his role was purely administrative can only crumble as other characters, including his wife (Molly Innes) and a host of former colleagues played by Ali Craig, deepen our understanding of the layers of lies and self-denial that facilitated the mass murder of thousands of Jews. And from that horror, Director Gareth Nicholls has created a powerful and strangely beautiful piece of theatre; from the crisp costumes to the elegant shapes Blythe Duff makes when sitting half towards the audience, half towards the proceedings inside that institutional-grey room.
The masterful dialogue-switches between actors, which take us to another conversation, another time – sometimes contradicting the present conversation, at other times enriching it – demonstrate Nicholls’ flair for storytelling, and indeed casting. A perfectly poised performance from Duff sets up a cat-and-mouse chemistry as Burnett’s chillingly believable Stangl falls prey to her prying; and despite his justifications, horrendous truths are laid bare.
Reviewer : Lou Prendergast
Mon 18th to Sat 23rd May
Oran Mor, Glasgow
The play is about to start. Amidst the audiences chatter I pick out some words of an ongoing dialogue from Dylan played by Stephen Clyde.
The stage is set with bottles along the back wall.Caitlin Macnamara is talking to us in the opening scene with glass in hand contemplating the 20 years of hell she has had.She sings “Lilly the Pink” as she teeters on the edge of the stage talking to us , her Alcohol Anonymous colleagues..this fear filled lady in floral shirt,grey skirt and ochre cardigan tells us that “the 8th November every year” sets her off because “when I see drink I see Dylan”.Dylan is of course her former husband, writer Dylan Thomas,who was always too pickled to remember their three little children’s names.
Caitlin played effervescently by ex Glasgow School of Art pupil Gaylie Runciman looks us over as she laments, “How can I trust a room full of strangers when you can’t even trust yourself.” The action now goes back in time and the young dylan enters and they congratulate themselves on the bottles of champagne they are alone with while the rest of the pub have scurried underground after an air raid alarm.“We have enough champagne to live here for the whole war,” enough to outlive “fucking Hitler”
So from their youth and beauty which is described by Caitlin as cucumbers they gradually pickle themselves till Caitlin realises she is expecting. Dylans “whirling dervish” his “dancer,isn’t she amazing” is drinking her way without him through the upbringing of their offspring.She has to drink at home while he meets with his “liquid family” in the pub.
Years later Dylan enters from a three day bender and is confronted by a more gherkin like wife. She tries to get him in the bath telling him that their son, “is 15… where have you been. I’ve waited three days.” She refers to the 15 lost years when she tells Dylan that, “once placed in a jar of vinegar we shrivel.we were having too much fun… And the process cannot be reversed.”
While Caitlin continues with “red wine in my veins…beer in my ankles,gin in my eyes…flushing and rushing..pulsing me heart,” she knows that Dylan will go to New York and fulfill all his “cuntish possibilities,” as he steals the weins sweets after her refusal to go to the big apple with him.’
“New York? Yeah…who is she?”
Caitlin is not a victim though, not even when he calls her from her memory every Nov 8th. She knew that he needed New York she tells us in present time as she addressees her undrunk beverage…”you had become his true love”.She thinks back to the phonecall telling her that Dylan is on his last legs and how she arrived plastered at the hospital after a drunken flight only to see that he had a women by his side whose identity was never revealed to her.
“They thrust me out like a bloody chicken”
Now many Novembers later she is goaded by Thomas’ ghost to
“Step 3 …live to drink”
By step 6 she has taken the steps from Dylan who exclaims post humorously
“That’s my twelve steps”
We know now that she is victorious, she doesn’t need his fading voice in her head to “find love” in the past. She is ready for her her future as Dylan is confined to the memory of the alehouse, alone with his bottle. We believe the former Caitlin Thomas may be shrivelled but she will not remain a gherkin. This is highly humourous given its dark content.The script flows smoothly as we are transported to and fro between the living/dead/resurrected Dylan.The plastic bag over Dylan’s face describing his oxygen tank while he clutches a pint on his deathbed and the deep breathing in the background are both funny and disturbing.
One thing is for certain, this well directed offering by Alan McKendrick produced by Susannah Armitage is not to be missed.
Reviewer : Clare Crines
Edinburgh King’s Theatre
MAY 11th 2015
On our way to the King’s Theatre we kept our expectations fairly level, somewhere between an enthusiastic ‘It has to be good as Robert Webb is in it, it just has to!!’ and a solemn ‘How can anyone possibly improve on Fry & Laurie’s classic TV take?’.
It is always difficult to bring a fresh angle to plays and adaptations that are so well loved they’ve been done to death but this cast pulled it off with a flourish.
From the moment Webb stepped onstage in his roles as Bertie and narrator, he absolutely owned the role of Bertie Wooster, managing to combine moments of manic energy with the loveably vacuous demeanour of everyone’s favourite toff. His delivery was perfect and, once Wodehousian shenanigans were in full swing, the TV version vanished in a puff of smoke and laughter at this reincarnation. Webb is obviously a very clever man, to portray someone that obtuse with such acute aplomb.
The combination of dialogue interspersed with fast & furious set/prop changes (all of which were used as a complementary feature to the play itself and caused consistent amusement throughout) worked perfectly. Set & costume designer Alice Power is to be commended on this.
Jason Thorpe and Christopher Ryan had a much more demanding job as they played no less than three characters each, of both genders, requiring lightning-fast costume and voice changes but their consummate professionalism shone through- they never put a foot wrong, save for a brief moment of corpsing form Thorpe, which of course is no bad thing in an already rather surreal comedy, providing a moment of intimacy as the audience lapped up the chance to laugh with the actors and not just at them.
Thorpe lacked the height and solid, physical presence of other Jeeves actors however he shone in his various other guises as the socially inept, newt-fancying Gussie Fink-Nottle and most especially in a downright hilarious, absolutely inspired scene of him simultaneously playing the braying Sir Watkyn Basset and his not-so-innocent young ward, Miss Stiffy Byng- one to look out for!
Ryan speeds between between the long suffering, deferential Seppings the butler, Bertie’s eccentric Aunt Dahlia, whom he imbues with an air of the demented window-licker, the Scottish butler at Totleigh Towers (in essence a Scottish indentikit of Seppings, complete with ginger hair) and the lunatic Führer-like Spode, never once putting a foot wrong.
The beauty of P.G. Wodehouse was his ability to build a clever comedy of manners around the most ridiculous affairs and objects (in this case a cow-shaped creamer), giving us a ringside seat to the quirky strangeness of human interaction and often hinting at greater transgressions but never actually revealing them. This show had it all, and the lovely interior and perfect size of the King’s Theatre was the icing on the cake.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: Slow motion scene involving cow creamer- simply inspired!
COULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY: To see a woman play one of the multi-character roles would be a welcome and interesting twist .
Overall a funny, warm and engaging performance, ‘Perfect Nonsense’ was an all round success, even for those who are unfamiliar with the Jeeves & Wooster stories.
Reveiwer : Maya Moreno
Having seen Dyad Production’s, Female Gothic last year, I was looking forward to see this play about the iconic film star Marilyn Monroe, which imagines her recounting her life in her last hours before her death in August 1962, aged 36. While we can only speculate to what she may have thought about in her last moments, Elton Townsend Jones went to great lengths in his research to discover the real Marilyn beneath all the rumour and sensation.
On entering the theatre we were faced with a set, not to dissimilar to Tracy Emin’s “My Bed”. After sitting down, I realised there was a figure on the bed, which lay motionless until the audience settled and the lights went down and the white sixties telephone rings, no one is on the end, just an eerie crackling …..maybe death is calling?
Despite the fact Lizzie Wort only had a slight resemblance to Marilyn she managed capture her spirit, as she frolicked across the stage in her dressing gown, popping pills and candidly telling her story of marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, tales of affairs and friendships, her career and the darker days of her childhood. Lizzie did an exceptional job of portraying this complex woman. Dyad seems to be the master of monologue as yet again this was a superbly put together production, with simple storytelling that kept me captivated for the whole hour. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Zoe Gwynne
Play / Pie / Pint Season
From out of the mini-country that is Glasgow comes this fine piece of native-born theatre, inking its way into the world along the pen of the award-winning Lou Prendergast. She presents us with the monologing Tommy, played by the talented & perfectly experienced Tom McGovern. Having been in & out of Barlinnie more than most folk go to Benidorm, Tommy is a hard-drinking, petty gambler & one of the characters Prendergast would have witnessed in her youth. Last year, her play Blood Lines brought the story of her gangster father to the stage, & this production seems a perfect spin-off off-shoot of that world.
The story is set around trying to have a good Christmas for Tommy’s dying dad, with his ex-bird being invited along for good measure. McGovern brings these extra vocal parts into the story with expert changes of voice & mannerisms, & combining these skills with his phrenetic stage-presence really brings Prendergast’s vision to life. Colloquial as hell, as McGovern rattles through his lines we watchers really feel like we are in the heart of Glasgow, as indeed the Oran Mor theatre is.
Prendergast’s first effort at writing for the male voice is something of a triumph, pulling off all the nuances that are involved in the banter-driven patter of the modern man. Together with McGovern’s wonderful oratory skills, witty one-liners & a genuinely touching plot, this play is a true winner.
Reviewer : Damo Bullen