Monthly Archives: April 2017
An Interview with Paul Brotherston
By Irvine Welsh
Adapted by Harry Gibson
Directed by Gareth Nicholls
Wed 18 October – Sat 11 November 2017, Citizens Theatre
Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting began its life as a piece of drama at the Citizens Theatre over 20 years ago and returned in 2016 with a critically-acclaimed sold-out run. Hot on the heels of Trainspotting 2, Danny Boyle’s sequel to his phenomenally successful film version, and by popular public demand, the Citizens Theatre is bringing its production of the notorious story back to the stage from 18 October to 11 November 2017. The production will also tour to the King’s Theatre Edinburgh, presented by Selladoor Scotland.
Trainspotting was first presented in a stage adaptation by Harry Gibson in the theatre’s Stalls Studio in 1994, just a year after the book’s publication. The shocking and explicit production was hugely successful and was quickly remounted in the theatre’s larger Circle Studio. The adaptation has since been staged across the globe. In 2007, The Scotsman named the Citizens Theatre’s original production in the Top 20 Scottish Theatre Events of All Time and awarded the 2016 production 5 stars, stating “it’s a show that comes with a health warning”.
Trainspotting is set in Thatcher-era Leith, in a world where work and opportunities are scarce. The trappings of a successful lifestyle are held out of reach of Renton, Begbie, Sickboy and Spud, who instead look for fulfillment through the point of a needle.
Gareth Nicholls returns to the Citizens Theatre to direct. Nicholls’ recent credits include God of Carnage (Tron Theatre) and The Burial at Thebes, Coriolanus and ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). His production of Gary McNair’s A Gambler’s Guide to Dying won a Scotsman Fringe First Award, and has toured the UK and Adelaide Festival, and has just completed an Off-Broadway run. Nicholls held the post of Citizens Theatre Main Stage Director in Residence (2014-16), directing Into That Darkness, Vanya and Blackbird all of which received 4- and 5-star reviews.
Of his return to the Citizens Theatre, Gareth commented, “Irvine Welsh’s urgent and uncompromising story clearly still packs a punch – we saw audiences from all backgrounds connecting strongly to its heady mix of humour, heartache and heroin. Its unflinching look at Scottish identity, masculinity and choice seems to be as pertinent now as it was 24 years ago and I’m thrilled to be once more bringing this raw, energetic and iconic modern classic back to the stage.”
Tickets for Trainspotting at the Citizens Theatre will be available from Tuesday 16 May from the Citizens Theatre’s website citz.co.uk or by calling the Box Office on 0141 429 0022.
And Then Come The Nightjars
11th April 2017
Byre Theatre, St Andrews
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
Later this year, the grand old tradition of the theatre in Perth is about to bounce into the 21st century with the reopening of a refurbished ‘temple to the stage’ that has cost quite a lot of money, but is almost ready to go. Since its closure 2014, award-winning Richard Murphy Architects have been crafting the theatre & by October it will have reopened, when 90 percent of the Scottish population will be only 90 minutes from what should be Scotland’s most pleasant theatrical space. That doesn’t mean Perth Theatre has been idle, however, & for the past three years has continued its rural program, taking actors out to the smaller stages & towns, as doing right now with And Then Came The Nightjars. A charming tale of rural friendship by the West Country’s Bea Roberts, in an earlier interview with the Mumble one of its two actors, Nigel Hastings, described Nightjars as ‘a beautifully written play, perhaps the best new play I have ever been in. It is about love, loss and friendship, and how rural life is changing.’ The stage is an inch-perfectly reproduced farmer’s barn, in which are played out four vignettes from the later lives of Hastings & his co-actor, Finlay Welsh.
Blending James Herriot & Last of the Summer Wine, but chucking in a dungheap full of grit, what follows is a sublime snapshot of two men bonded by a long life friendship. Each of the four scenes is separated in the same way Petrarch turned his sonnets to Laura; sudden shifts in story & mood which developed our players & effortlessly forwarded the story. Hastings & Welsh were rehearsed to precision, flawless performances in which they took turns to lead the action as in any good friendship. One moment in particular had me riveted to my seat; when Finlay Welsh in his thick West Country action opened a box of prize-winning cattle rosettas, going through them one-by-one with excited drunken pathos. As he did so, although she wasn’t on stage, I could sense the presence of his dead wife in the fictional yet remarkably real back story of his character. Overall, a quick-paced yet touching comedy-laced piece, whose choice has proven Perth Theatre is ready to reclaim its distinguished place in the Scottish scene.
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen
And Then Come The Nightjars;
19 / 20 April : Inchyra Arts Club
21 April : Blair Atholl Village Hall
22 April : Aberfeldy Town Hall
26 / 27 April : Birnam Arts Centre
28 April : Blairgowrie Town Hall
29 April : Strathearn Arts Space, Creiff
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
This time of year the city of Edinburgh taps into the cerebral part of a collective brain from which once sprung the Scottish Enlightenment of Adam Smith et al. Yes, the Science Festival is in town, & with it a rather sciencey play, Caryl Churchill’s ‘A Number.‘ Its subject is human cloning & its drama thrives upon the discovery of a young man – Bernard Black – that he is one of many clones of his father’s long dead son. The hour-long story is told with two just actors, Lyceum stalwarts Peter Forbes (Michael) and Brian Ferguson (Bernard); & it is the familiarity they possess concerning each other’s acting nuances which helps bring to life such an intimate script.
It is the acting, actually, which is worth the admission fee; the ebbs & flows of Brian Ferguson’s emotions grab your watching psyche you like a butcher’s hook. Behind them, a simple & stark stage helps us to focus on the progress of their conversations. These run the full gamut of emotions, a dichotomy of feelings of fear, pain & regret as the godlike possibilities of man’s intellectual endeavor come home to roost. Director Zinnie Harris has done well to capture the spirit Churchill’s vision, & as one leaves the theatre, discussion immediately begins on the ethical questions raised in the last hour. A Number, then, is less a play & more an intense Socratic dialogue, but luckily the acting on this occasion was superb.
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen
An Interview with Nigel Hastings
Perth Theatre in partnership with Theatre by the Lake, Keswick present
Theatre 503 and Bristol Old Vic’s production of And Then Come the Nightjars by Bea Roberts & Directed by Paul Robinson. The Mumble managed a wee chat with actor, Nigel Hastings.
Hi Nigel, so where ya from & where ya based geographically speaking
I’m from Preston originally but moved to London to go to drama school (LAMDA). I now live in Lewes, East Sussex.
When did you first fall in love with the theatre
My Dad was in the army and I was an army kid. I grew up on army camps, mostly in Germany so we didn’t really go to the theatre. But I remember seeing an amateur panto put on by the soldiers when I was about six and I thought it was amazing. I never wanted it to end.
For you, what are the essential ingredients of a good play
Heart, humour and humanity. And of course a good story and great characters.
You are currently touring And Then Come The Nightjars, can you tell us about it
It is a beautifully written play, perhaps the best new play I have ever been in. It is about love, loss and friendship, and how rural life is changing.
What emotional response do you expect from those seeing Nightjars
The response is always extraordinary. Audiences laugh and cry.
When playing to different audiences in different regions, can you sense a change in atmosphere at all
Some audiences are much quieter than others. We did a performance in Falmouth which was so silent we thought the audience hated it. It turned out that most of them were farmers and they kept had quiet because they didn’t want to miss a single word of the dialogue! Then last night the Keswick audience was in hysterics. We felt like Morcambe and Wise!
How do you find the Scottish crowds
We haven’t played Nightjars in Scotland yet but I’ve always thought the Scottish audiences are great and seem to listen very carefully.
What does the rest of 2017 have in store for Nigel Hastings
When this finishes I start work on another new play called Combustion (by Asif Khan). It is about a group of young Muslims in Bradford during the riots and so the setting, characters and themes are very different to Nightjars. But like Nightjars it is very funny and touching. It plays at the new Tara Arts Theatre and The Arcola in London then tours.
An Interview with Carmen Marcon
Tonight the Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation and the University of Edinburgh begin their run of Isaac’s Eye at the Bedlam Theatre. The Mumble managed to catch up with its director, Carmen Marcon, for a wee chat.
So where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking
I’m from San Francisco, California and have lived and studied in Edinburgh for the past year and a half.
When did you first develop an interest in theatre
To be honest, I’m not sure when it all started, I feel like I’ve always been interested in theatre. My last year of high school is when I discovered the intricacies of putting on productions and being involved at Bedlam Theatre has allowed me to immerse myself in an artistic community, encouraging my love of theatre.
How easy is it to fit your love of drama around your studies
It’s definitely not easy but I love it too much to give it up. It just takes a combination of time management, a good support system and a lot of coffee.
You are making directorial debut with Isaac’s Eye, how are you finding the process
It’s a very odd script to begin with but I’m very much enjoying the challenge of it. I’m lucky to have a great group of people to be working with in both the cast and crew who have been willing and excited to put in the work to make this a really good piece of theatre. We’re all really excited to show this to the public.
Can you tell us about the play
The play explores the path Isaac Newton took to become one of the greatest scientific thinkers that we know today and shows us the relationships that affected him as well. Walking the line between fact and fiction, Lucas Hnath has written a play that puts a seemingly normal situation on its side. The characters presented are not expected, allowing additions to these historical figures that we thought we knew.
What emotional responses do you expect your audience to engage with
There is an odd disconnect between the way the characters relate to each other as well as their situations. Regardless of this, each character is relatable in its own way allowing for a whole spectrum of emotions on stage and off. I want the audience to embrace the oddness rather than shying from a style of theatre that they might not have liked before.
What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Carmen
I’ve recently become the Productions Manager at Bedlam Theatre and am looking forward to working with the upcoming shows that will be put on the stage here. I’m also planning to direct more shows this year as well and just really taking advantage of the amazing theatre Edinburgh has.
A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Channeling Jabez, written and presented by Giles Croft & directed by Liz Carruthers and assistant director David Wood, tells the story of the twenty-odd attempts by Glasgow born Jabez Wolffe (inspired by the feat of Captain Webb) to swim across the English Channel. These various efforts were thwarted by weather, tides, jellyfish and most spectacularly, World War I mines. The statistics for each and every endeavour is listed from the stage in the manner of a poor Reith lecture, complete with doubtful props. There is a guitar which Mr Croft admits then demonstrates, he can’t play, a map of the English Channel pinned with little Saltires and even a reluctant volunteer from the audience, asked to come forward and grease a manikin to channel swimming protocols.
Mr Croft is not a performer but has managed to memorise an impressive amount of channel swimming statistics (although he does lose his way at one point and has to ask the sound desk for a prompt). His retro costume of crewneck jumper and black bow tie is inspired by the grainy film footage of his hero shown at the end of the show which finishes with a piece of slapstick business that smacks of desperation. Not exactly theatre, this was more of a multi-media story-telling session, a format which can be entertaining but in this instance struggled to amuse.
Reviewer : David G Moffat
Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery
18:15 – 20:00
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
Yesterday evening, as I stood on the hoary slopes of Edinburgh’s zoo, the animals slipping into slumbers on every side, my spirit sang a silent lament for what we have lost. In these our modern days, the conventional theatre-goer will settle in their comfortable seats, in their correctly-angled rows, while before them only the stage manager’s choice of set design makes a relatively futile attempt to transport said theatre-goer to a place rather different from the last time they were at the theatre. Yes, we have devolved a long way since the birth of drama, when in the mystery rites of ancient Memphis & Eleusia the high priests would lead their acolytes in procession through a series of divine scenes; following rivers, climbing mounds, entering caves….
So, a A great credit must be given to Edinburgh based Grid Iron and Lung Ha theatre companies for attempting something at least as expansive, whose zookeepers, Tom & Geena, lead their chilly but jovial audience from scene to scene across Edinburgh Zoo in the telling of their tale : Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery. The story involves the return of Dr Vivienne (played by Nicola Tuxworth), back from the dark continent with a hitherto unknown mammal. Also on the scene is her brother, Henry, which provides a familial subplot of conflict & reconciliation. He is played by the bearded Anthony Strachan, a perfectly formed Graham-Norton/Oliver-Reed hybrid, whose eloquence & acting ability outshone all others.
Alongside the principle parts, the supporting roles have been taken by other members of Lung Ha, conducted with unadulterated passion. They work, & work well; a Herculean effort of man-management, perhaps, but well worth it. Lung Ha’ speciality is discovering & excavating the creativity in people with learning disabilities: & this time they have excelled even their own startling efforts of the past.
But was it any good? Eccentric & erratic, colourful & cordial, surreal & sweet, Morna Pearson’s script contains a ‘zany concoction of characters’ which are perfect for the children, whose long wait to see the mystery animal would receive its denoument with touches of excellent stagecraft. As for the adults, just being there is a pleasure, & the Monty Python moments rather enjoyable. Heartwarming also was the sheer professionalism of the performance, lending a sense of tender universality to the proceedings. This play is indeed for everyone.
Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen