Monthly Archives: January 2016

How You Gonna Live Your Dash?


Easterhouse, Glasgow

Touring 28 January – 13 February 2016

Script three-stars Stagecraft four-stars Performance  three-stars


Jenna Watt presents her latest performance, a co-production with Platform and in association with Showroom – How You Gonna Live Your Dash? Exploring life-altering decisions people make in order to get the most out of their time on the planet: giving up a good career because you can’t bear the boss who used to be a friend, confronting an addiction, shooting a sucker rifle at a globe and moving there …

HowYouGonnaLiveYourDsh_.jpgBased on reality, this punchy piece of theatre asks us to explore /detonate our own existence and look at ‘the dash’ which ultimately is the short period between birth and death, otherwise known as the rat race. Created and performed by Jenna Watt and co performed by Ashley Smith this is experimental theatre living on the edge. With fascinating sound effects in the form of amplified heavy breathing and the sound on a turntable as a record is about to start or end…interesting analogies in sound on ‘the dash’.

How-you-gonna-liveThe special effects are equally as impressive with bubbling cotton wool, smoke machines, clever use of fire in the pyrotechnics and even a slowed down music-less narration of Phil Collins Against All Odds .

Jenna was a recipient of Creative Scotland’s Artist Bursary where she spent a week at Cove Park writing Faslane. The fruit of this period is well worth a watch & I look forward to her future efforts with anticipation, for she really seems to have the gift.

Reviewer : Clare Crines




A Play, a Pie & a Pint

Oran Mor, Glasgow


 Stagecraft: 5 Script : 5 Performance 5


What a privilege it was to witness this play by Victoria Bianchi , directed by Debbie Hannan, set in patriarchal wartime Britain. The set is dark like the plot, the painted fire a nice touch and the period wallpaper strangely vintage turquoise and gold. With January being a time of reflection we are transported back to January 1913 where the two characters Frances Parker (Beth Marshall) and Ethel Moorhead (Stephanie McGregor) encounter one another prior to Ethel’s first Suffragette meeting. The banter between the two women throughout is comedy gold.

By 1914 the Suffragette movement was becoming increasingly violent, with many buildings around Britain being bombed and burned. In July of that year, Frances and Ethel attempted to set fire to the Burns Cottage in Alloway: not as a slur on the poet himself but for the fact that his  words were being used to entice young men into the army. It also helped that Burns was dead and therefore there wouldn’t be any casualties while bombing his home and highlighting the Suffragette cause..


This play is about the planning stages of this bombing and the struggle the two endured on their long walk of almost forty miles from Glasgow to Burns cottage. It tackles the pitting of women against women in Mrs.Archibald Colquhoun’s speech and the role the media had in creating the myth that Suffragette women were hags and couldn’t get husbands. It is also about the loyalty between the two friends after Ethel is caught by a watchman on duty at the Burns abode. Although the plot is based on reality, Bianchi has chosen to send Ethel and not Frances to prison as was really the case.

While in prison Ethel went on hunger strike. Knowing that there was little chance of recapturing her if she was released, the prison authorities subjected her to brutal force-feeding in more than one orifice. Finally released to a nursing home, she managed to escape and return to Frances.


Ethel’s relaying of her court appearance to Frances is powerful, ‘I am at war with you. I can take your anger but not your pity…If we do not fight for it constantly with every fibre of our being then we will never achieve it.’ Ethel plays the guitar at times as she and Frances reinvent Burns songs such as A Man’s A Man For A’ That with lyrics that don’t mention men!

According to Oran Mor’s website, ‘CauseWay invites us to join with Frances and Ethel in their journey towards a fairer world and asks whether, over 100 years later, we’ve arrived at our destination.’ We clearly haven’t –  books such as The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf give us all the statistics we need that prove women are still fighting for their right to equal pay in a world where men clearly have the monopoly on fair wages. What better a venue to shine a theatrical light on this issue than Oran Mor in the heart of Glasgow’s West end. This is a play with punch that kicks off the season as it intends to continue.

Reviewer : Clare Crines






Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh

23rd Jan

Scriptfive-stars Stagecraft three-stars Performance 4.png

In 1975, Steven Berkoff’s gritty slice of 70s cockney life found itself premiering at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, to an international audience. Four decades later it returned to its spiritual home city in the hands of Edinburgh University’s finest up & comers, as part of the annual Bedlam Festival. And it was absolutely brilliant! The action began with a pretty live piano tinkle as our five protagonists sat in the dark on their chairs. Then up they stood, all booming voices and cool assurity as they ripped the shit out of Berkoff’s urban masterpiece.


East is a masticulated mix of Shakesperean dialogue & cockney street chit-chat, a wide open window into 70s Britain that contains timeless truths. Bovver-boots, manors, & visceral curses combine in a swirl of iambic pentameters such as ,’which we have well & truly robbed since then.‘ To these add phrases such as ‘piss off thou lump‘ & we witness the acute genius of Berkoff’s mind & discover how poetical the English language can be, in whatever dialect or situation it is spoken.

IMG_20160122_193415183.jpgJunior thespians they may be, but Michael Hijiantonis (Mike), Celeste Macllwaine’s (Les), Esme Allman (Sylve), Brett McCarthy Harrop (Dad) & Rob Younger (Mum) were wonderful to watch, with a chemistry reinforced from the social integrations of their time together, carefree & footloose in the prime of their lives. The use of invisible props was excellent, especially a dodgem scene – proper funny – & combined with the nifty lighting really sucked you into Berkoff’s vision. They’ve got massive potential this lot, & gave a passionate performance all roun… it’ll be interesting to see how their careers pan out.


Reviewer : Damo Bullen


The Weir


The Lyceum


15th Jan – 16th Feb

Script 4.png Stagecraft 4.png Performance 4.png

Taking my seat in the second row of the Lyceum, five minutes before showtime, I was suddenly squidged past by this giant of a fellow. Taking his seat beside me I’m like, ‘I recognise him… ah, Braveheart, Troy, its the Irish genius that is Brendan Gleeson.’ A few minutes later I watched him smile with pride as his son, Brian Gleeson, began playing the barman of ‘Brendan’s Bar,’ a true Irish watering hole in the furthest north-west reaches of the Emerald Isle. We had been transported there by the pen of one of Ireland’s most prestigious contemporary playwrights, Conor McPherson, & the marvellously accurate & atmospheric stagecraft of the Lyceum’s creative team, led by Amanda Gaughan. Among these purveyors of the noble craft, Francis O’Connor was responsible for the magical set, telling the Mumble, ‘I’ve designed a lot of Irish drama & many are set or part set in pubs so I’ve a huge amount of reference in my studio… and a very great deal of direct immersion!’

nm1719324.jpgThe Irish predilection for a good booze-up runs all the way through the play, a ‘Withnail & I’ style romp that almost drains the bar dry – a small one here, a harp there & a quick run inside the house by Brendan for the 1990 christmas bottle of white wine  for the fancy city lady just moving into their rural haven, there. Her name is red-headed Valerie, AKA Lucianne McEvoy, & it is about her arrival in this obscure corner of Ireland that the play revolves. Accompanying her on stage are four fellows, the brilliant Gary Lydon as fifties singleton, Jack, the Compoesque Darragh Kelly as Jim, Frank McCusker as the married but flirtatious Finbar giving Valerie a tour of the area & of course Brian Gleeson, a right chip off the old block who oozed the most consummate confidence.


One by-one the cast trek through the stormy conditions of the Atlantic Irish coast & enter the welcoming bosom of Brendan’s bar. Everybody’s buying drinks for everybody else & bantering about the horses, work & all the usual stuff that surrounds life in the hicksville sticks. The play is dialogue heavy, & that is its main strength – the lovely lilt of the Irish dialect is always a pleasure to hear, especially through the rhapsodic tongues of professional actors. The banter flows as freely as the booze, & it is only when we reach a Decameron/Cantebury Tayles series of ghostly monologues that the play begins to stutter, somewhat. Saying that, perhaps McPherson introduced this as a an actual device, for by the time we reach the end of Valerie’s tale, I have never in all my days of witnessing theatre experienced a silence as sustained, impeccable & as harrowing as this one. We were almost begging somebody on stage to break the tension, a magnificent moment which everybody involved in this play should be proud.

This is a fine, fine play, in which Gary Lydon’s Jack is a particularly brilliant combination of actor & part blending in perfect harmony. We are not given answers to morality here, we are not taken on a thrilling journey of suspense, but what we are given are front table tickets to the world of real life & real people & real agonies & joys… & all in real time as well. With this play being performed in the winter months, I urge anyone to make a similar trek through wild conditions to find yourself basking in the warmth & comfort of Brendan’s Bar.

Reviewer : Damo Bullen