In Short Order

In short Order (1)


October 26th – November 11th
Slate Theatre, Seattle

Script: five-stars Stagecraft: five-stars  Performance: five-stars


After a tasty wonton soup I headed across Seattle Blvd to the imposing Inscape Arts Building. I wasn’t sure it was the right place, but then I saw a small chalkboard that said “Slate Theater.” Bingo! On entering I was greeted by some friendly folks who directed me to the small performance space inside the large building. They were serving ‘by donation’ beer and then I found my seat for In Short Order, presented by MonoMyth Theatre.

The show is a vignette play with a three-woman cast. Patty Bonnell, Laura Engels and Ashley Salazar each put on stellar performances, fluidly transforming into a new character for each scene, while ably managing & maintaining a continuity which made the sections fit together neatly as a whole. The set was effectively minimalist, which added a lot of energy to the action without being overly noticeable. The lighting and recorded sounds were tight, & overall I experienced an expert staging of a theatrical piece.

The first scene, ‘Recruit,’ is set in a dystopian doctor’s office, where a woman has no right to choose how or with whom she will make a baby. This scene made me realize a different side of the woman’s right to choose debate. Like in China where they had the one child, and now a two child, policy. Of course it seems good to control overpopulation, but it is a slippery slope when the government wants to regulate a woman’s body. I am more grateful for our country’s right to choose, and will be steadfast in defending that right.

‘Witness’ begins with a person reading a poem on the street. A passer by compliments the poet and tells them about social media. A police officer approaches and interferes with the interaction and everything goes bad. The term “gut wrenching” is used a lot, but I didn’t know what it was like to have my gut wrenched until the climax of this scene. I had a powerful and tangible jolt in my stomach which has never been invoked by drama before.

In ‘Talkback,’ a mixed nationality married couple is at the US immigration office applying for permanent residence so they can stay together. When the official comes for their interview it becomes clear this is a Kafkaesque nightmare, and the worst part is that it is completely believable. Again I wish that our country were more welcoming to new people. Diversity is a great part of our country and it is wrong to treat new people with anything but kindness

In the last scene Patty and Ashley read from cards which the audience was asked to submit. Laura enters and tells us that the doors are locked, and we can’t leave. This ties the whole show together, because each scene is about lack of freedom, and, finally, the audience gets to experience not having the freedom to leave. Brilliant.

This show does a superb job of expressing meaningful ideas and having fun with it; funny, intimate and engaging, I hope you will go see this wonderful piece.​

Reviewer : Michael Beeson

five-stars

#71

IMG_6768i Clare Waugh, Maureen  Carr, Karen Dunbar.jpg


A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
23-28 October 2017 

 Script: three-stars.png Stagecraft: three-stars.png Performance: three-stars.png


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Septuagenarian Chrissy (Karen Dunbar) is rarely without pain and having tried every pill on the planet, has come to a decision. She’s invited her two closest friends round to the house as there is big news to impart. While she waits she slowly dances, in the old fashioned way, with a framed photo of her departed husband. The two chums couldn’t be more different with Jean (Maureen Carr) a short, permed, devout, worrier, prone to repeated malapropisms and Coco (Clare Waugh) a tall, confident, woman of the world, littering her speech with dubious Parisian pretensions – N’est-ce pas?

IMG_6758i Maureen Carr, Clare  Waugh, Karen Dunbar (1).jpg

On a stage, impressively transformed into a conservatory, the women swap memories and insults while searching for the essential truth about love and death…as one does in Whiteinch. When Jean reveals she has a passion for Grime then hip-hops a song about her loss of faith, we know sooner or later, this will end in gin. The affection for Dunbar (who wrote the play) from the packed audience is palpable and each familiar Glasgow expression included in the dialogue is rewarded with the laughter of recognition. There is however, a paucity of genuinely funny lines, for the broadly caricatured characters, to deliver.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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Coriolanus: Fight Like a Bitch

Poster, Coriolanus


October 17th – November 18th
12th Ave Arts
Seattle

Script: four-stars.png Stagecraft: five-stars  Performance: five-stars


The play begins in fog, with warehouse techno music playing, & feelings of intense anticipation grip us tighter & tighter. Despite an age of more than 400 years, Rebel Kat Production’s Coriolanus: Fight Like a Bitch is an action filled feast, and incredibly relevant to today’s political and social issues. 12th Ave Arts Mainstage is a perfect place to see a play. There is a catwalk-like stage which bisects two seating areas, allowing all in the audience to see all of the action on the stage – as well as fellow voyeurs across the way. It gives the performance an entirely immersive feeling.

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Coriolanus: Fight Like a Bitch has an all female cast. When Martius starts to interact with her wife and child, I realized: wait, shouldn’t Martius be he, but they call her she, and she is she? My brain got confused at this total break from the norm. Martius and her wife are both female. The all female cast helped me to identify this bias I have in my self. In a recent interview  producer & actress Colleen Carey (Aufidus) told The Mumble;

All-female Shakespeare is being done quite a lot these days. There are all-female Shakespeare companies in major cities all over the world… Gender is only one factor among many. It would be easy to assume that seeing or making a single-sex production would be a binary experience. The truth is, it is far more complex than that. Actually, the reason that I wanted to produce this particular play, with an all-female cast, is that the character of Coriolanus is neither a hero nor an anti-hero. It’s a fascinating social experience to see a woman playing a role that is not ‘likable’ per se; and when that beautifully complex female character is surrounded by other female senators, warriors and politicians (many of whom are also wives and mothers) a reflection of the modern world in which we live can be seen with a great deal of honesty.

The story reminded me of modern politics. The main character Martius is a political elitist rather is out of touch with the needs of the common people. Just as Hillary Clinton felt that she should ascend to the presidency as if by right, Martius believes that her accomplishments make it obvious that it is she who should be elected senator. Alas for her, to the people she represents the politicians, who live fat lives, while normal folks struggle to put corn on the table.

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Nike Imoru brings Martius to life brilliantly. She is skilled on the battlefield, but the Martius who interacts with the public was cold and reminded me of a border patrol officer who acts like a dick, because it is their job to act like a dick. Then there is another side whenever Martius she interacts with her family, you see her as a child to her mother, a wife to her wife and a mother to her child. Seeing these two sides of the character made me conflicted about who to root for, the misunderstood tyrant, or the struggle of the people. The latter are fed up with the government establishment and reject it with the banishment of Martius. In Coriolanus, the people have to deal with the terrible consequences of the vote to banish Martius, like the British people now are dealing with their decision to leave Europe. Back in Shakespeareana, when the people realize the ramifications of rejecting Martius, they feel regret. It was a big theme of the show for me. Making a decision and regretting it, then trying to change it and regretting the change.

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The play’s language is of course difficult to understand for an early 21st centuryite. I can tell the players are speaking English, but what they are saying is not always clear. With pure Shakespeare it is then up to the director and cast to show the audience what the characters are feeling and doing. The great thing about this is the audience has to exercise their brains to give the story meaning. Coriolanus is participatory, unlike popular television which tells you a story to be observed passively, we as the audience need to create our story along with the performers facial expressions and actions. Director/choreographer Emily Penick has given her players a beautiful space to bring Coriolanus to life and the show is a rewarding experience.

Coriolanus: Fight Like a Bitch is a truly wonderful play and I hope you will see it and make your own interpretation of it. Coriolanus is also great exercise for your brain, to work on empathy and imagination.

Reviewer : Michael Beeson

five-stars

The Maids


Dundee Rep
Oct 17-Nov 4

Script: four-stars.png Stagecraft: five-stars  Performance: four-stars.png


The Maids (1947) is the first & most popular play to treacle-drip from the pen of Jean Genet, a reformed criminal who created a ritualistic polymorph that still astonishes all who sail in her. I would watch director Eve Jamieson’s transcreation on my first visit to the Dundee Rep, a marvelous space which reflects the gentle grandiosity of the city of Dundee; compact yet spacious, humble yet magnificent, tiny yet extravagant. The auditorium takes the form of three sides of an octagon, & the stunningly decorous stage whisked us with some precision to the boudoir of a wealthy French mistress in which her maids – Solange & Claire – run riot while she is away. On either side of the stage were two clear boxes in which the maids sat in sculptured silence when off piste, with a red light underneath indicating as much. This then turned green whenever they were needed by the script & off they would stroll into action. Excellent stagecraft indeed!

After the interval, enter the mistress into this ‘atmosphere of anxiety;‘ a jewel-choosing, catty-commenting cauldron of condescension. ‘You have your flowers, I have my sink, I am the maid,‘ says Solange, from which moment ensues the tempestuous double-cross which leads to quite an insane ending. En route, suspicion & intrigue abounds & one may trace the course of Genet’s musings, from the true source story of two maids murdering their employer in 1933, through the socially divisive paranoia of Nazi-occupied France. ‘Who are we really? Where are we really? What is real & what is an illusion?’ declared Eve Jamieson in her program notes, ‘is it possible for Solange & Claire to escape the real & imagined shackles that they believe have held them captive & become, finally, ‘beautiful, wild, free & full of joy?’

The Maids is a mind-bending, quite compelling invective-peppered parody of the wealthy mistress / lowly maid relationship, the actuality of which – in the hands of Genet – is a wee slingshot away from the plantations of Nat Turner’s Tennessee. It is fascinating to watch the stresses & strains of friendship, the caste-laden workplace & of a mistress – shouty, emotional, irresistible – insouciant to her workers’ needs. Here splurges the silent storm of hopeless lives & brainwaves starting to burst from the confusion of inadequate circumstance, from the stifling banality of the soul in servitude.

There was a lucid chemistry to the performance, forged from the experience of each of the actresses’ 18 years together as part of the Dundee Rep. While Irene Macdougall & Ann Louise Ross as the maids, & Emily Winter as the mistress all worked up a hurricane of entertainment, by the end I was staring boggle-eyed at the proceedings as the cruciate dangers of overactive imaginations reigned free.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen
Photography : Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

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An Interview with Colleen Carey & Katherine Jett

Coriolanus, Fight Like a Bitch has just started its month-long run at Seattle’s 12th Ave Arts. The Mumble managed to catch up with two of its actresses for a wee chat…


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Hello ladies, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
KATHERINE :  I am from Nashville, Tennessee, originally, but I’m​ now based in Seattle. Just crossed the ten year mark. Colleen is a Seattle native.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
COLLEEN : I enjoy a wide variety of different forms of live performance; and I find that that I am influenced by the theatrical elements in each of them. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea of ‘high art’ versus ‘low art’. I have been less moved by the perfectly cold technique of a famous actress in one of my favorite classical plays at a prominent regional theater and much more deeply moved by the uncontainable pathos of a burlesque piece, in which performer slowly revealed his dark skin from underneath a KKK robe and a white body suit. To me, what makes a piece of theater ‘good’ is this: “If you want to create a masterpiece, you must always avoid beautiful lies.” (Jerzy Grotowski)

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Colleen as Aufidus

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
KATHERINE :  I did my first play at age nine- auditioned sort of on a whim- and I promptly fell in love with theatre. At thirteen I discovered Shakespeare and it was like a light went on inside me. After that, I pursued acting more seriously and sought out training, particularly in Shakespeare.

You’ve been washed up on a desert island with a solar-powered DVD player & three films. Which would they be?
COLLEEN : 1) The Wizard of Oz 2) Cinema Paradiso 3) Wings of Desire

What does Katherine Jett like to do when she’s not being theatrical?
KATHERINE : I am hardly ever not theatrical; I go to bed and wake up thinking about theatre. But to give my mind a break, I usually watch cartoons, which I love (Bob’s Burgers and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic are my favorites). I also love learning, whether it’s via book, podcast, or documentary. My most favorite subjects right now are little-known women’s history and anything paranormal. I also love yoga, dance, and petting dogs.

You are quite a stalwart of the Seattle theatre scene. Can you tell us about it & how it compares to the rest of America?
COLLEEN : I don’t think of myself as a stalwart. I know that I work about as much as any other actor in Seattle. There’s any incredible talent pool here in this city!! I try to go out and see at least as much theater as I do. I am so inspired by artists around me that my experience of going to see theater is a huge part of what Julia Cameron calls ‘filling the well’. Theater in America is a huge topic to address! (I also try to see theater whenever I am traveling.) If I had to offer one small critique of the Seattle theatre scene, it would be this: I’d like for us as a community to challenge ourselves to take more risks. I’d love for Seattle theatre to more actively ‘comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable’.

You have just started a run of Coriolanus at the 12th Ave Arts in Seattle, can you tell us about the play?
COLLEEN : The country is at war, and the Senate cannot keep the peace within its own walls— let alone on the battlefield. Enter Coriolanus: the country’s most famous badass warrior. She returns home to face the greatest battle yet: to win the love of the people & run for office— or face the dangerous consequences of defying society’s expectations.

Your executive producer for Coriolanus is Rebel Kat Productions, can you tell us about them?
KATHERINE : Rebel Kat is a new production company, and Coriolanus: Fight Like a Bitch is it’s inaugural production. I have found working with them to be a wonderful and refreshing experience. The company is headed by Rebecca Petriello, who, in addition to being extremely skilled at business in general, has a level of integrity I have never before encountered in a producer. She cares deeply about making art that is meaningful and relevant, and she is really dedicated to doing right by the people working with the company​. I feel very lucky to be one of those people.

How are you finding juggling producing Coriolanus & performing in it?
COLLEEN : It’s great! I am so very passionate about the project that I am constantly discovering new opportunities to support and contribute to the work of all the the artists involved in the production. Both crew and cast make up a truly fantastic team!

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Katherine as Sicinius

Can you describe in a single sentence the experience of putting on a Shakespeare play?
KATHERINE : No. But I’ll try. It’s like going on an archaeological dig while climbing a mountain, and sometimes you slide back down a little and have to re-climb parts, but by the time you’ve reached to top, you’ve created a path that’s still hard to climb but easy enough to lead tour groups on. (That was a very long sentence, but still technically one.)

It is interesting that an all-women play seems a complete flip from the days when Shakespeare’s plays were performed solely by men. Can you describe the unique energies surrounding a single-sex production?
COLLEEN : All-female Shakespeare is being done quite a lot these days. There are all-female Shakespeare companies in major cities all over the world. Personally, I would say that unique energies in any production have mostly to do with individual people. Gender is only one factor among many. It would be easy to assume that seeing or making a single-sex production would be a binary experience. The truth is, it is far more complex than that. Actually, the reason that I wanted to produce this particular play, with an all-female cast, is that the character of Coriolanus is neither a hero nor an anti-hero. It’s a fascinating social experience to see a woman playing a role that is not ‘likable’ per se; and when that beautifully complex female character is surrounded by other female senators, warriors and politicians (many of whom are also wives and mothers) a reflection of the modern world in which we live can be seen with a great deal of honesty.

How would you describe your working relationship with Colleen Carey, & do you hang out afterwards?
KATHERINE : You bet we hang out afterwards. Since meeting her almost two years ago, she has become one of my dearest friends, as well as co-collaborator. We have deeply compatible convictions and ideas about performance and the artistic process, and for me, it’s an extreme delight to work and scheme with her.

 

The Tin Drum

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West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
17/10/17 to 28/10/17

Script:  four-stars.png Stagecraft: five-stars  Performance: five-stars


Gunter Grass’ Noble prize winning novel’ “The Tin Drum” has already been adapted into an award winning film and here highly regarded theatre company Knee-high create their own version of the magic realist fable. Will it too be award winning and ground breaking? The show certainly opened impressively with the subtle orange glow of street lights on a small square illuminating couples slow dancing to eerie music like the ghosts Blackpool Tower ballroom. The authentically grubby and dilapidated tenements of the set lead us to believe we are in some unspecified time and place in the past which could be anywhere from Weimar Berlin to the Post War Eastern Block. Yet what we soon find out is that where we really are is in the realm of folk tale or myth. For though it may have stitched within it elements of bawdy comedy, Baroque opera and dark satire at the root of the play lies a fascination with the same archetypal characters and themes one might find in a folk or fairy tale .

The coming of age story of a cursed child, Oscar it also explores war and conflict, both the metaphorical war between the sexes and generations but also the actual violence of conflict itself and the prejudice and fear which allows it to happen. Though the play begins on a disturbing and unsettling note and tackles serious subject matter early on it soon shifts its position to something more akin to broad musical comedy. With its chase scenes, dance moves and musical numbers I found the first act often funny, at times delightful but overall rather overwhelming, a sugar rush of hyperactivity which left me rather frazzled though pleasingly so.

download.jpgThe second act marked a distinct contrast with the first though as the tone shifted from the giddy to the gloomy. Whereas the first act was a wild and sometimes exhausting ride with only the occasional intimation of the violence to come the second act darkened the tone considerably. The characters lost some of their clownish jollity and instead we gained a greater sense of their struggles. This was particularly true of Oscar as the grim reality of his curse dawned on both him and the audience and a genuine sadness and sympathy for the creepy little chap bubbled up unexpectedly as if from nowhere. This was partly achieved through fixing the story more definitively in a recognisable time and place which helped make the events more relatable. For with its references to a Nazi- like group called “The Order” and scenes depicting concentration camps and public executions we were clearly in WW2 Western Europe.

It was also though due to the fine performances of the cast for though all the actors were adept at bringing elements of mime, dance and clowning to emphasise their characters they also managed to invest their archetypal characters with a sense of inner life. Particularly strong performances came from the well meaning yet dim cuckold Albrect who was lent a kind of desperate and pathetic pathos or the charismatic Granny Brodski and her palpable sense of lusty vigour. Special mention must of course be given to the puppet performers who were a key element of what made the show so magical whether it was the boorish geezer Devil, Baby Kurt or Granny Brodski’s surprisingly lifelike goose.

The most impressive performance of all was from the hero himself, Oscar. Played in the main by a deliciously creepy puppet – a little wooden boy whose face appeared permanently ruffled in a scowl he stalked the proceedings with a sense of ambiguous purpose. Was he hero or villain? Was he to be pitied or feared? It was not always clear. And this perhaps was key to the often unsettling quality of the play.

The second act was con vied with just as much sense of imagination as the first half yet its effect was markedly different creating an atmosphere which was at times oppressive and disturbing. Much of this strength came not from the performances themselves – good though they were – but from the lighting, music and set design. This was superb throughout and created a rich sense of foreboding through powerful imagery and imaginative use of music and sound which constantly adapted to the action in a seamless and perfectly synchronised way. Many of the main characters got their own musical theme such as Albrecht’s lumpen bass tones or Maria’s jaunty melody yet the music itself was a wonderful character in its own right. With inventive use of synths, drones and electronic drums it took in elements of disco, funk, musical hall and dark ambience to create a sound which could turn from the comic to the sinister in a moments notice.

The lighting as well as the music and set was also key to much of the strong atmosphere of the show. Whether it was recreating the throbbing magenta hues of the womb, the flickering fires of an arson attack or the violent white light of an exploded bomb the lighting throughout created a rich vibrancy towards the proceedings particularly towards the plays conclusion. The play ended on a tone which was as mysterious and ambivalent as it began which left me in a rather bewitched state.

Though as in any good folk tale there were clearly morals here if you cared to look for them too such as matriarch Granny Brodski’s assertion that “We are all different, we are all the same” and though I could see that this could be a story about all wars, about all conflicts I remained somewhat confounded as to what it had all been about. There had been so many fantastic, vivid scenes such as Grandpa Jo’s madcap escape from the law or Oscar banging his tin drum making the soldiers dance to a dark techno pulse. Indeed the show went beyond any expectations I had in its perfect blending of acting, puppetry and music. At times I’d found it funny, unsettling, exhausting (the sensory overload of the first act particularly) and enchanting. Yet I still left not knowing really what it had all been about but perhaps that after all was not really the point. For what it certainly was was a fabulous piece of theatre whose powerful images resonated in my mind long after the curtain came down like a half remembered dream or – more likely – a nightmare.

Reviewer : Ian Pepper

five-stars

An Interview with Gemma Woffinden


Next month sees Rebecca Manley’s Zoetrope hit the West Yorkshire Playhouse. The Mumble managed catch a few words with the director…


Staff-Web-Photos-CreativeEngagement-GemmaWoffinden

When did you first find yourself getting into the dramatic arts?
I loved theatre from a young age, seeing shows with my Dad, making shows with my sister and performing in school plays. I loved telling stories, playing different characters and being part of a creative process with school friends.

These days you are the director of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Youth Theatre. What is the talent like in Leeds & what outlets do you provide for them?
The Youth Theatre works with young people aged 5-19. All the young people attending weekly sessions have a passion for theatre and we create opportunities to engage them with the shows made in the theatre on stage and behind the scenes. I am constantly inspired by young people’s energy, their ideas and it’s exciting to see the world from their perspective. We have a range of different performance opportunities as well as young people being cast in professional show, for example Romeo and Juliet directed by Amy Leach.

What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Well, I love a good story. I like to see plays that make me think, plays that I can relate to the subject matter of, and also plays that invite me to sees someone’s experiences from a new perspective. I like being challenged by stories that can be uncomfortable to consider and will provoke a good debate for the journey home from the theatre.

What does Gemma Woffinden like to do when she’s not being theatrical?
I actually love going to see as many plays as possible. Across the country there is so much to see. I also enjoy going out for dinner with friend and seeing live music.

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You will be bringing Zoetrope to the West Yorkshire Playhouse in early November, can you tell us about the play?
It’s a brilliant new play written by Rebecca Manley and it’s been so exciting to direct. It tells the story of 7 very different young people attending a counselling group. It’s about mental health, relationships and the process people have to go through to get the help they need. It’s very funny and very sad.

To help inform the script and the young people acting in the show you worked with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services on the project. How did you find the experience?
It has helped meeting a range of mental health professionals and young services users. We have shared scenes from the play and been able to talk to people first-hand about real life experiences and they have helped us to shape the characters stories in the play. It’s just been great for the young people to meet each other and learn about life from a different perspective.

How are you finding working with Rebecca Manley?
Rebecca has lots of experience working with people from a range of backgrounds and her playwriting brings those peoples stories to life. She is committed to creating characters that reflect the experiences of real people. Rebecca and I have spent lots of time talking about the things we are passionate about and I believe she is a playwright who genuinely cares about people and their struggles. She is a very funny lady and it’s a pleasure to work with her on Zoetrope. As a director I feel I can talk opening to her about the creative process of bring a new play to the stage.

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?
Come and see the show! I promise it will entertain you and make you think. The characters are brilliant, the story is gripping and most of all the actors are very talented.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?
I hope audiences will feel they have seen a high quality piece of theatre that made them think. I hope audiences will come away considering the challenges the character faced and relate them to their own lives whether a direct connection or having an understanding of how to support a friend. Society is starting to talk more about mental wellbeing, and this play will open up the discussion even more. We have a few schools booked in to see the show. I really hope the play can also be explored in schools, it’s a great resource for many reasons. During rehearsals I have run a few workshops and I’m ready to do more! Let’s get talking and remember its ok to not be ok!

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Gemma Woffinden?
Well, lots more exciting projects with young people. We are already working on a play called BLANK by Alice Birch which is part of the National Theatre Connections Festival 2018. This play looks at the lives of young people who parents are in prison and I am keen to link up with local charities to see how we might work together during rehearsals. The Youth Theatre works with young people aged 5-19s and we have nearly 200 young people attending sessions each week at The Playhouse , I have a production idea up my sleeve that could invite all our young people for a show on the Quarry stage. Watch this space!

From The Air

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A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
16th-21st October

Script:  four-stars.png Stagecraft: four-stars.png  Performance: five-stars


Pete’s retired from the rigs so no more chopper-hopping is required. The kids have flown the nest leaving him and wife Claire, free as birds. Time to catch a plane to Italy and that little Tuscan villa they have always dreamed of buying. Thing is she has a phobia about flying – and forget driving, she also hates tunnels. Still, maybe if she pings that rubber band around her wrist frequently and hard enough, all will be well.

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Fear of flying, its causes and often funny consequences for Claire (Angela Darcy) and Pete (David McGowan), is explored in this well written, thoroughly enjoyable play by Anita Vettesse. Darcy’s portrayal of Claire is a wonderful mixture of mad panic and perceptive questions…. (Why don’t they have airbags on a plane?)

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Her manic contortions, as crisis and terror grip, are utterly persuasive as are the humorous details of her morbid “arrangements”, which are to be found at the back of her knicker drawer in the event of the aircraft dropping out of the sky. McGowan’s Pete provides a steady, less turbulent presence, a necessary counterpoint to his partner’s turmoil but with plenty of dry, sardonic insights to impart. With clever use of back projected clips of old aviation footage to supplement the always entertaining dialogue, this is a first class flight.

Reviewer : David G Moffat

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Love Song To Lavender Menace


The Lyceum Studio, Edinburgh
12-21 October

Script:  four-stars.png Stagecraft: four-stars.png  Performance: four-stars.png


Being played out in the Lyceum Studio, normally used for rehearsals, was the long awaited and anticipated play Love Song To Lavender Menace by James Ley. Set in Edinburgh’s gay community in the mid to late 1980s, with the city’s gay bookshop taking centre stage. As the lights dim and change direction the set design springs to life; a tall structure of towering book cases simplified with white lines creating the outline of books, the effect channels an image of the many barriers we cross in search of the right answers. We may also observe an 80s ghetto blaster complete with tapes and a red duffle bag that has nostalgia written all over it. A simple but effective stage design makes way for the smooth operators that are proud owners of the one and only gay bookshop in Edinburgh’s New Town. Skipping onto the stage with a repetitive tongue and engulfed in a happy smile that would make you think that you were strutting your stuff on the dance floor of Fire Island , you could sense this was going to be a show full of fun and humour, as well as delicate politics. Striking first, Lavender Menace makes a point straight from the start that this is a piece of theater that is to be enjoyed, laughed at and not to be taking too seriously, opening the door and allowing some of those dark shadows behind it to come out into the light. Liberating !!!!!

The acting on display from both Lewis and Glen was as real as as it gets, with very believable characters that had been chipped and modeled like a good marble sculpture, they connected with the audience with the same modus operandi as a piece of cheese that connects with Branston pickles. Centered around the turbulent and loving relationship of these two men and a Policeman (enter Fire Island), the story plays host to the many observations of LGBT movement in the 1980s. Lavender Menace is challenging in many ways and pushes aside the man-made images of gay life. Conjuring up thoughts that provoke your emotions, Lavenderstirs you up and leaves you in a cauldron of side -plitting jokes and sketches that spread an immensely amusing blanket aslant the end product. A well-written script was polished with a very open-minded approach which stuns the hearts of the audience & in subsequence allows them to embrace the message on offer. This is a piece of theater that will thrill and captivate, shatter political laws, chase rainbows, reinvent humour, warm your bobby-socks and get you to ask questions about some of the prejudices we encounter in today’s society. Love Song to Lavender Menace breaks down the walls that hold you inside, but also gives you shelter from fragile storms. With cultural direction, justice and liberation, and a twist of camp fun, Lavenderoffers up a concoction of all that is good in humanity. A message of love and respect for all and always be true to who you are !!!!!! Refreshing.

Reviewer : Raymondo

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Brothers Karamazov

The Tron, Glasgow
12th – 28th October 2017

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059_303__tro_140_genericpost_1499247005_standardDramatised from the Dostoyevsky novel of the same name by Richard Crane and directed by Faynia Williams: Thierry Mabonga, Tom England, Mark Brailsford and Sean Biggerstaff play the Brothers Karamazov and double as the other principal players.

The play begins with an acapella procession from the balcony that perches above a minimalist stage set, making good use of the intimacy of the 150 seat venue. Part 1 was entertaining with a slight sense of precision in the delivery of a cleverly worked script, and a couple of unfortunate voices off tried to intrude but the guys carried on through the distraction with great professionalism. That’ll be sorted out for the rest of the run. I found myself distracted during the opening scenes, not as I’d expected by the rotation of the cast through other principal roles, but by the sensation that I was witnessing the early career steps of my nomination for Black James Bond – Thierry Mabonga! Shut my eyes and big Sean could’ve been right there in the room.

Part 2 was a much more relaxed and engaging affair where the actors developed into believable characters and I spent less time comparing their performances to more established stars of stage and screen and started to appreciate the economical use of choreography, costumes and design, and use of the space. There’s no point in me giving you a synopsis of such an enduring tale. This particular vintage could be fairly labelled made from concentrate, but is actually fresh and juicy. In terms of review I will say this; I didn’t pay for my ticket but I wouldn’t have felt cheated if I had.

Reviewer : Colin 

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