Category Archives: Scotland
Short Attention Span Theatre
Six new plays will be premiering online next week
Presented by Scotland’s Short Attention Span Theatre.
Audiences will be seeing double next week as a pioneering theatre company serves up its latest innovative slice of culture in quarantine. Short Attention Span Theatre (SAST) will be streaming six double-hander plays online and free of charge from Thursday 25th June – featuring some of Scotland’s best up-and-coming creatives. It follows the success of the company’s virtual shows in May, which featured 12 magical monologues – watched by hundreds of viewers ‘live’ and later on YouTube, as well as SAST’s own website. The next show will present six short plays – written, acted and directed by talents from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Moray … and even further afield.
Each will star two actors – filmed from a virtual distance to adhere to lockdown restrictions, using a variety of dramatic techniques. They will be available to view from Thursday (25th June) onwards. The plays will be:
Through the Door by Leanne Cameron
Lucy has locked herself in the bathroom and is refusing to come to her Dad’s 60th birthday party because she’s fed up being compared to her sensible sister, Jess. Jess is trying to convince her to come out and that everything will be ok, but not before going through the emotional roller coaster that is sisterhood. Will Lucy come through the door?
Smells Like Cheap Spirit by Jamie Graham
Mandy is spending another night in front of the TV and has treated herself to a takeaway pizza and a bottle of gin. She’s feeling a bit down in the dumps after recently losing her job and still not having anyone special in her life. But the evening takes an unexpected twist – and it’s not just the lemon in her gin.
Rats by Karen Marquis
A make-up tutorial takes a horrific turn…
Acquiesce by Alan Muir
Two men. Two prisoners. One wall.
For years they’ve been kept captive in neighbouring cells, forced to share their fears and secrets with each other – and the stone between. But now there’s a chance at escape. For one of them at least. The problem is, freedom comes at a cost. It always does.
The Curse of Griffin Cottage by David Bratchpiece
Aspiring writer Sarah receives an unexpected message from young actor Eddie after he gets locked down in some spooky surroundings…
We Keep Going by Rachel Flynn
David and Zoe had a one-night stand that lasted a whole weekend just before lockdown. Now they actually have to get to know each other without sex, can they keep their intense connection over video chat, without the ability to touch? Or will they realise they’re not the people they thought they were?
The actors are Grant McDonald, Sarah Meikle, Stephen Will, John Michael-Love, Derek Banner, Catriona McAllister, Elle Watson, Emma Findlay, Paul Kelvin, Rebecca Wilkie, Stephen Kerr and Kirsty Florence. The directors are Karen Marquis, Daniel Gee Husson, Max Chase, Daniel Orejon, Rebecca Riddell and GR Greer. The June show will premiere on Thursday 25th June from 7.30pm. You can watch via YouTube and theSAST website.
Tom Brogan, Co-founder of SAST, said: “The reaction to our online shows has been extremely positive. We can’t wait to bring audiences six new virtual two-hander plays – all streaming free to your computer or device. Like everyone, we’ve had to adjust to the ongoing pandemic and it has presented a unique challenge creatively. I’m delighted with the innovative ways our writers, directors and actors have worked together – many miles apart – to produce new works to help lift people’s spirits during this testing time. Once again there’s a range of subject matters and genres, with something for everyone. Please tune in. Don’t worry if you can’t watch ‘live’ on YouTube or via our website – all the plays will be available to view again afterwards and you can catch up on previous shows too.
Here at SAST our goal is to encourage, support and inspire early-career writers and theatre makers. The online shows are a way of continuing that work, while hopefully entertaining people sheltering out the coronavirus storm at home. There’s no cost as such, but if anyone wants to buy us a ‘virtual cuppa’ then we’d be delighted to accept. All donations will help to fund future work.” Tom added, “Hopefully – all being well – we will be back on stage in the autumn with live shows in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Until then, please stay safe … and enjoy the shows.”
So far, SAST’s April show has had nearly 800 views, with May’s plays racking up nearly 1,000 views. SAST was established in 2015 by Karen Barclay and Tom Brogan, and is now run by Karen, Tom and Mairi Davidson. It was set up to enable first-time and early-career writers to experience their work being dramaturged, directed, rehearsed and performed in front of a paying audience. Prior to lockdown, SAST had mounted 24 live shows in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Ayr – producing the work of more than 100 writers. It receives no funding so if you want to help support future work please consider buying the company a ‘virtual cuppa.‘
The Beaches of St. Valery
Oran Mor, Glasgow
March 16 – 21, 2020
This week’s wickedly lovely play, the Beaches of St.Valery, came from the pen of the excellent Stuart Hepburn. The show was making a welcome return to Oran Mor, with the original cast (James Rottger, Ron Donachie and Ashley Smith) reprising their roles. We were introduced to young Callum (Rottger) all dressed up in his smart army uniform, and soon caught up in the horrors of WW2. We watched as he and other Scottish soldiers of the 51 st Highland Division dealt with the reality of wartime.
The play effectively dealt with themes of duty and loyalty, as depicted in the character of Sergeant McGregor (Donachie), an old soldier with a lifetime of army and war experience. We also saw how the youngsters grew from being reluctant conscripts to embracing the idea of duty and service, no matter what it took. And it took a lot, especially for the Sergeant who had to give the terrible orders. The action took us right to the battlefield, using effects such as a castle backdrop, lights, explosions, the sound of planes flying overhead, radio reports, recollections. We followed them through well-choreographed manoeuvres as they fought, then retreated on the beach. We joined them as they huddled together in a bunker for warmth and Calum found love with Catriona (Smith) in the midst of all the turmoil. Somehow the fact that there was a smaller audience for today’s play (we are in Coronavirus territory after all), only made it all the more poignant. In the slightly eerie atmosphere no-one really wanted to laugh at the one small joke.
The author has thrown a light on the less well known fact that while thousands of British soldiers were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, this Scottish division was left to defend St Valery to the last man. Many died, many surrendered. The play wasn’t about anger at this apparently desperate situation, only the touching sense that though they were more than willing soldiers all they wanted really was to go home to their loved ones. An impressively well put together drama, with writing and craft that directly touched the heart and sent you home with a huge sense of compassion for those who had lived through it. It seems a fitting tribute to them and is well worth a visit.
Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Mar 9 – 16, 2020
Paring Off, by Alma Cullen, is this week’s Play, Pie and Pint offering, and opened with pals Murdo (Tom McGovern) and Kenny (Steven Duffy), sharing a pint and enthusiastically discussing their team, St Mirren. Turned out that Kenny was the manager, and Murdo, a butcher by trade, had a vested interest in the shape of the club pie contract.
Enter Kenny’s girlfriend Mimi (Gail Watson) looking professional in a white dress. Mimi owned Happy Feet Chiropody and had come to treat Murdo who had terrible trouble with his feet (hence the “paring” of the title). It didn’t take us long to realise that Mimi and Kenny’s relationship involved a lot of high voltage quarrelling. However, she spread a towel on her lap settled down to her task of massaging Murdo’s feet while he lay back in utter bliss in a gorgeous looking leather and wood chair.
The men were feeling optimistic and excited about the future of their team as they chatted about the various signings and prospective victories that were coming up. Then the mood abruptly changed when it was mentioned that one of the new signings was gay. Kenny immediately showed his revulsion, saying that it was wrong and against the law. Mimi denounces Kenny for being uptight just as she was drawn to Murdo’s more relaxed reaction.
An attraction that grew as Murdo and Mimi become more than enamoured with each other and ended up sleeping together. Mimi confided that she sometimes needed sex to sleep well and that she had a wonderful night with Murdo, enjoying his cavalier attitude towards the whole thing. So when Mimi discovered Murdo’s own secret – given away by the state of his feet – in the shape of his very own pair of women’s dancing shoes, it was all part of a highly charged romantic exchange that ended in Mimi appearing in a sexy red dress and a long dance sequence that left the clumsy Kenny standing on the sidelines.
The music was lush, the action endearing and highly charged, catching you up in an intricate dance between the three characters. Funny and intense, it nearly set the place on fire…
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Mar 2 – 7, 2020
Today’s play, named simply “Daniel”, by Isabel Wright, had an intriguing set, simple but effective – a screen lit with a violet light. This one man show began with Daniel (Jack Tarlton) on the floor of what turned out to be a toilet – a striking image to start the story with. His trousers were round his ankles as he came to and roused himself into discourse, reflecting that the life he was living could be likened to waking in a toilet. It seemed like the beginning of something dark and macabre.
We were soon set straight in the next scene where Daniel stood tall in clothes that no longer made him look like some down-and-out about to shoot up. In darkly comic short scenes the tale of Daniel’s travels in London and Edinburgh began to emerge, peopled by off-stage characters that illustrated the different stages of his life. With more than enough on his shoulders, Daniel was shown on the one hand to be pathetic and yet also able to show resilience as he recounted his feelings for his father, his dog, his true love, Katie Watkins.
The action was punctuated throughout by silences and blackouts, adding impact to Daniel’s weird and wonderful take on life and inviting us to laugh, sometimes guiltily, as his forthright dialogue hit home. All delivered with a quiet physicality that held the room and somehow enlarged the comedy. One scene entirely consisted of him hilariously downing a bottle of Irn-Bru, just that, leaving us exposed in our silence.
Isabel Wright’s play made use of theatrical techniques to create a kind of bottomless comedy that felt new, reflective and powerful. As we followed the protagonist on his journey’s highs and lows, we were taken first into darkness then light where there was love and care, then back to darkness again. It wasn’t a linear journey, but if you took it in your stride it somehow all made sense. As an experience it was enticingly funny, brave and concisive, well worth seeing.
Lessons in Love
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Feb 24 – 29, 2020
The set for today’s play, Lessons in Love, included a green backdrop with a plush looking couch and cushions, plus a table and chairs. This comedy starred writer Kate Donnelly as Sarah a woman on the hunt for spirituality and co-writer Clare Hemphill as her friend Jackie. The two were long-time friends as indeed was Hammy Hamilton, played by Garry Sweeney, who loved to gamble and was a big football fan.
Sarah strode onto the small lunchtime stage in joggers and slipper boots, doing her Qigong and spouting forth about her long-held attitude to life and its wonders. Joined by Jackie, the two soon engaged in what was their familiar ongoing conversation about their shared life experience; all of which being filled with the passions they shared. Before long Hammy was mentioned, revealing that in fact that Jackie was engaged to him.
Hammy’s entrance transformed the room to laughter as he made his appearance dancing a little jig to music. It transpired that Hammy had once ditched his fiancé to go and see the Scotland football team play Brazil – in Brazil! Hammy had always and still did defend the importance of the match (it was a world cup qualifying game). In an emotional scene he also admitted to have gambled an amount of money that he had borrowed from Jackie who now desperately needed it back.
Jackie confessed to Sarah that she’d been intimate with Hammy and felt that the love she bore him was big enough to forgive him, somewhat to her friend’s dismay. But the two women decided to have some fun with him first, with Jackie prancing around the stage in sunglasses and a neat leather jacket. Hammy revealed more and more of himself to us in his conversations with Jackie and as they sat together it was clear how familiar they were and had nothing to hide – in fact despite everything they had nothing but love for each other.
There were no definitive lessons learned here, but perhaps that was the lesson in itself; that we never really can know how and why things will turn out. With vivacious performances from the cast of three, this endearing play explored the intimacy between people and the sometimes surprising way relationships work out.
When the Penny Drops
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Feb 17 – 22, 2020
This week’s offering from a Play, and Pie and a Pint took place in a school room, where English teacher, Penny (Jo Freer) was at the heart of Catriona Duncan’s comedy, “When the Penny Drops”. As Penny pondered the highs and lows of her career, she was joined onstage by Michele Gallagher and Calum Moore playing multiple roles – involving multiple costume changes – with increasing manic energy that had the audience in fits of laughter.
We found ourselves entwined in Penny’s thoughts and feelings, despair and joy, as she shared with us a lifetime of teaching children and dealing with fellow staff and parents, all of whom were capable of engendering frustration to the point of pulling hair. All ably illustrated by the cast of characters who engaged with her in a series of fast moving mini plots which at times spilled out into the aisles. Penny’s formula for coping, she told us, was complete disengagement, the ultimate safety net
The play spun its web in a marvellous mix of action and comedy, drawing you ever further towards the ultimate turning point where Penny was faced with the profound reality of the crossroads she was facing. The moment of clarity when “the penny drops” came like a slap in the face as Penny’s theory disintegrated. But really, she – and we – always knew it was going to and the penny dropping turned out not to be the catastrophe we may have expected. In our hearts we always knew she cared!
Written by a real teacher who knew what she’s talking about and with wonderful direction by Angie Darcy, this play took us on a rapid trip through human endeavour. Teachers will recognise themselves here as will all of us who have striven for clarity and honour in our lives. An impressive hour, not to be missed!
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Jan 10-16, 2020
It was a pleasure to come back to the Oran Mor for the first play of A Play, A Pie and A Pint’s 2020 season, Camino. The stage was a welcome sight not only because of the weather (Storm Ciara was raging outside) but also because of its wonderful design. At the back was a kind of wooden blind with a bunk bed and some chairs and table making a kind of perfect space for conversation.
Sean Hardy’s story took us half way up a mountain in Spain where two couples were making their way to the summit. Mo and Donald (Kim Gerard and Lewis Howden) seemed to be the perfect couple, celebrating 25 years of marriage and addressing each other with endearments. Helen and Ken (Irene Allan and Keith Fleming), the younger pair married 10 years, were in complete contrast – passionately arguing and fighting at every turn, not to mention finding the lovey dovey pair a bit too much to take.
Things unravelled a bit as the four struggled for survival on the perilous journey – or was it the perils of marriage? Perhaps both. Certainly the four characters encountered many dangers and challenges both physical and romantic, and dealt with them in a fast moving plot that took them here and there across the stage, opening doors and closing them as their difficulties were exposed. Again and again the same issues would come up and somehow as they climbed they found the strength and courage to confront their problems.
There was a very entertaining stand up element in all of this which had the four characters standing in a row like an ensemble and, telling their stories in quick fire succession, drawing us in and then letting us go again. There was a sense that they were dealing with the essential things in life, things to be taken to heart, but there was more laughter than silence in the audience because it was the jokes that prevailed. As they said, when you’re climbing a mountain far from home, as with marriage, things could take any turn at any time – “What could go right?” An intriguing and laugh-, not to say thought-, provoking start to the season – well worth a visit!
Dundee Rep Theatre
Sat 23 November – Sun 5 January
Get your dungarees on and spike up your hair for bucketfuls of songs, laughs and good traditional fun as Scotland’s own comic superhero makes his musical theatre debut at Dundee Rep this Christmas. Wullie’s appeal spans the generations. He’s been around – and been ten years old – for eighty years now, doing his scallywag thing in the town of Auchenshoogle. Accompanied by his best mates Soapy Soutar, Fat Boab and Wee Eck, a real slapstick trio if ever there was one, Wullie makes good-hearted mischief in the way young boys used to before the internet and Xboxes, dodging the long arms of PC Murdoch, Teacher and the slippers of Ma and Pa. Christmas without an Oor Wullie annual is like turkey without stuffing, or indeed the eponymous hero without his bucket.
That’s just the problem – someone has stolen Wullie’s bucket. As a result of this calamity, the comic-book coloured Auchenshoogle and the real world are getting mixed up. Expect high-jinx abundant. Can Wullie and his gang and new found friend Wahib retrieve his bucket from our world before his mortal enemy Basher McKenzie turns Auchenshoogle into a richt stramash?
Always bringing something special at Christmas, Dundee Rep have excelled with this year’s production. Bright, colourful and exciting from start to finish, it’s sure to appeal to young children and nostalgic adults alike. The songs are fun and the tunes catchy enough for folk to be humming them on the way out. Take children or don’t – you’ll love Oor Wullie. It’s good wholesome fun for the children in all of us.
Dixie Whittington: The Hamecoming
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Nov 25 – Dec 28, 2019
From the moment when Dixie Whittington (Amy Scott), Captain Cut-Thrapple (Claire Waugh) and Dame Dora Dumplin (Dave Anderson in a wig) came tripping down the aisle through the audience, the stage was set for an hour of merriment and chaos. So began Oran Mor’s 2019 Christmas Pantomime, “Dixie Whittington, the Hamecoming” written and directed by the excellent Morag Fullerton.
The fast moving plot found the naïve young Whittington under the sway of his evil landlord, Skinflint (John Kielty), head full of London tales that never came true, despite the voice in his head telling him to turn again for he would be Mayor of London. And when he was chucked out of his digs, and found himself in a tavern full of drunken sailors, his thoughts turned to heading back up north where his poor old grandmother sat all alone in her lonely flat. When pirate captain Cut-Thrapple offered him and his cat, Fleabag, a passage all the way up to Glasgow –– it seemed like the answer to his prayers.
Of course all Cut-Thrapple and his dastardly sidekick Dame Dumplin the ship’s cook could think of was treasure and cared not for the destinies of man or woman – he had every intention of corrupting the hapless Dixie and leaving him penniless. Was the ship even going to Glasgow? Who knows? The dark tale unfolded with plenty of rip roaring, thigh slapping action, hearty songs and fulsome audience participation. And just when we were wondering how the poor lad would ever climb out of his desperate predicament, enter Inverary Jones (John Kielty again) the shining hero, pushed onstage on a trolley.
With twists and turns too numerous to mention, and with the help of Inverary and a mysterious mermaid called Suzi-the-single-fish, Dixie eventually found his way back to the arms of his grateful granny, who would be lonely no more, much to everyone’s joy – except Cut-throat’s (Boo! Hiss!). And we end with the voices proclaiming that Dixie Whittington, you SHALL be Mayor of Glasgow! Hoorah!
Oran Mor, Glasgow
Nov 18 – 23, 2019
Oran Mor’s 500 Play season came to a glorious finale this week with a welcome return of “Cranhill Carmen”, Benny Young’s outrageous Glaswegian version of Bizet’s Carmen, complete with versions of all the best known songs, gustily performed by the gutsy cast who first appeared at the venue in 2018 as part of its Mini Musicals series. Reprising their original roles are Charlene Boyd (Carmen McGurn, the eponymous factory girl), Ewan Petrie (Donald John Macneil, the god fearing policeman from the islands) and Jason Harvey as Glesga Millio, the Glasgow hard man come matador.
We first encountered Carmen rather the worse for wear as she stumbled up the aisle in her high heels and frilly red skirt, and finds a suitable spot on the pavement to use as a toilet. Just the moment when PC Donald came upon her and, deeply offended by the depravity of the act, held forth on his fears for mankind and his unwavering faith in God, both for good inside and out. When he took out his notebook in order to charge her with indecency, Carmen employs all her wiles to persuade him not to book her for her minor misdemeanour. He found himself drawn towards her, enchanted by her glamour and her clever wit. The two engaged in a highly charged philosophical game and he was completely captivated – he’d give up his life for her.
Enter Glesga Millio, resplendent in full matador kit, going all out to impress the lovely Carmen. In complete contrast to the gentle Donald, this was the bad boy, taking command of the stage with his deep bellowing tones and overpowering flavoursome self. His wooing was rough and full of innuendos about what he’d do to women like her, but Carmen loved it and succumbed to his charms.
Dripping in sin, the lovely Carmen revels in the attentions of the two men in turn, laughing at their male competitiveness and transcending what seemed like horrific circumstances into something that it was a joy to behold. Of course the music helped, with all three belting out Bizet’s marvellous tunes with true operatic gusto and heart wrenching feeling. When the finale arrived it was Carmen who emerged victorious, declaring that both men just want to control her and she’s not having any of it. She deftly informs them that she’ll soon be leaving the country anyway.
This play is full of sheer flamboyance, reaching great heights and depths. When in the end Carmen left as she had come, disappearing back up the aisle with neither man in tow, we can’t help but smile.