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26 February 2015 The Guardian

The Effect

By Lucy Prebble. A Firebrand Theatre review.

TO STUDY animals, we can use a laboratory. To study humans, we can go to a play. This is not always obvious. But with the institutional grey fittings and antiseptic blue lighting of Ken Harrison’s set, it’s very apparent in Lucy Prebble’s The Effect. The setting is a drugs-trial unit at Rauschen Pharmaceuticals, where volunteers are taking an experimental antidepressant called RLU37. A psychiatrist is tracking their behaviour, but we in the audience are the ones really keeping watch.


25 February 2015 The Guardian

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

By Bertolt Brecht. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

JUST WHEN it looked as if Dominic Hill, at Glasgow’s Citizens, had cornered the market for classic dramas on wide open stages, in steps the Lyceum’s Mark Thomson with a bare-walls Brechtian extravaganza that’s bold, punchy and vigorously theatrical. Not only is it ambitious, but it pulls off its attempt to fuse large-scale ensemble playing, all-hands-on-deck music and fluid staging with aplomb. It’s a tremendous show.


15 February 2015 The Guardian

The Slab Boys

By John Byrne. A Citizens Theatre review.

JUST AS Jesus was a carpenter, so Giotto was a slab boy and, in John Byrne’s workplace comedy, the extraordinary is forever about to burst free of the mundane. Set in the paint room of a 1950s Paisley carpet factory, where the lowest tier of workers go through the ritual of grinding powder and mixing gum on marble slabs for the unseen designers, The Slab Boys is a celebration of the adolescent urge to resist the crippling tedium of the adult world. These nonentities may be ugly ducklings today, the play suggests, but one day they’ll turn into swans.

12 February 2015 The Guardian

The Slab Boys are back

Interview with John Byrne and David Hayman. A Citizens Theatre preview.

IT IS 1977 and an aspiring playwright called John Byrne has decided he needs an agent. He rings up Peggy Ramsay, whose name he has found at the front of a script, and tells her about Writer’s Cramp, his anarchic first play, which is being staged on the Edinburgh fringe. She asks to see a copy, tells him she is going on holiday for a fortnight and says she expects to have received a second play from him on her return. Two weeks later, Byrne calls her back. “Hello, Miss Ramsay, I have another play, quite different from Writer’s Cramp. It’s got a beginning, a middle and an end.”






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