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Guardian 27 October 2014


By Sue Glover. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

IMMEDIATELY in front of us, a woman is crouched down chopping turnips with a cleaver. In the middle of the stage, two others are knocking the earth off a crop of potatoes, while beyond them the lady of the house is chatting to one of the farmhands. And beyond them still, half hidden in the low winter mist, a figure is collecting sticks in a wicker basket. This sense of space distinguishes Lu Kemp’s painterly staging of Sue Glover’s play, an evocation of life on a 19th-century Borders farm. From the moment the cast appear in silhouette at the back of Jamie Vartan’s elemental set, Kemp treats the stage like it had the full dimensions of a field. Thanks to Simon Wilkinson’s superb lighting, those dimensions are always uncertain. As the colour temperature increases from cold monochrome to chilly sepia, the landscape is always bigger than those who tread on it.

Guardian 24 October 2014

The Gamblers

By Gogol. A Dundee Rep/Greyscale theatre review

NOBODY is what they seem in Nikolai Gogol’s comedy of card sharps and confidence tricksters. The play that set the template for David Mamet’s House of Games and The Spanish Prisoner, not to mention eight series of the BBC’s Hustle, recognises the innate theatricality of the grifter’s art. The pretence of the stage neatly parallels the pretence of the conman. Before long we’re dealing with deceits within deceits within deceits. That seems to be why Selma Dimitrijevic’s production for Greyscale begins in a locker room with the six actors getting changed from their everyday clothes into the trousers, braces and jackets of Gogol’s 19th-century gamblers. It also seems to be why they change, in the process, from female to male.



Guardian 25 September 2014

Kill Johnny Glendenning

By DC Jackson. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

ONE of last year’s biggest Scottish theatre hits was David Harrower’s Ciara, a monologue about a woman born into a Glasgow crime family and doing all she can to get out. With Kill Johnny Glendenning, playwright DC Jackson is in similar territory, only this time he plays it as farce. Where Harrower gave us a subtle meditation on the difficulty of cultural change, Jackson offers a Tarantino-esque bloodbath of violent excess and a script of machine-gun hilarity.

Guardian 17 February 2014

Musicals We Love: Blood Brothers

By Willy Russell. A Liverpool Playhouse review.

IF you ask a class of drama students why they chose their subject, a majority will answer with an anecdote about seeing a heart-stopping production at a formative age. For me, Willy Russell's Blood Brothers wasn't exactly that (when I saw it at the age of 18, I'd already developed a theatregoing habit), but it did make a tremendous impression. If I'm calculating right, it was Friday 7 January 1983, and I'd managed to buy a ticket for a preview performance in the very back row, upstairs at the Liverpool Playhouse. It must have been the last seat in the house.




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