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16 December 2014 The Guardian


By the company. A Glas(s) Performance review.

’TIS the season to be jolly. Unless you’re Megan Reid and you’re just not feeling it. No matter how many decorations, Christmas jumpers and festive movies your big sister Rosie throws at you, you’d sooner be snuggled up on the couch, keeping it mellow. As far as plot goes, that’s about the limit of this two-hander by Glas(s) Performance, but that doesn’t stop it being a warming mince pie of a show, quietly digging into an ordinary family history to bring to the surface the bonds that hold us together. Inside this everyday relationship, they find something uplifting, tear-jerking and true.


12 December 2014 The Guardian

The Devil Masters

By Iain Finlay Macleod. A Traverse Theatre review.

YOU know when you’re given a Christmas present, and you smile gratefully even though it’s misshapen, not to your taste and you’re not sure what it actually is? That’s what Orla O’Loughlin’s production of this comedy by Iain Finlay Macleod is like. The Devil Masters seems well intentioned, but it is hard to know what to do with it. The scene is in an Edinburgh New Town living room – realised in stiflingly naturalistic detail by Anthony Lamble – where the Christmas Eve preparations of two dog-loving advocates are interrupted by an intruder with designs on their Skye terrier. One kidnap, attempted robbery and assault later, the tables are turned and the lawyers take charge. By the end, the tables have turned twice more.


8 December 2014 The Guardian

A Christmas Carol

By Neil Bartlett after Charles Dickens. A Citizens Theatre review.

YOU could mistake Cliff Burnett’s Scrooge for a genial fellow. He’s much given to chuckling and seems content with his place in the world. True, he resents his staff taking a day off for Christmas and delights in poking a carol singer in the eye, but his complaints are less the view of a misanthrope than the expression of a reasoned political philosophy. His laughter is more complacent than cruel. But in Dominic Hill’s gloriously spooky production, played out in monochrome on Rachael Canning’s set, Burnett’s air of satisfaction becomes less secure.


4 December 2014 The Guardian

Miracle on 34 Parnie Street

By Johnny McKnight. A Tron Theatre review.

THE 1947 seasonal film favourite Miracle on 34th Street is a modest and sweet-natured comedy with the unfeasibly grand ambition of squaring the contradictory values of capitalism and religion. However greedy the market gets, the movie suggests, it’s nothing that can’t be solved by blind faith in a supernatural power. So when the real Father Christmas takes over the grotto at Macy’s, he shows the money-grubbing store managers that altruism is not only an end in itself, it can be great for business too. They only have to believe.

3 December 2014 The Guardian

James and the Giant Peach

Adapted by David Wood. A Dundee Rep review.

ONCE UPON a time, directors decided it was their duty to provide an alternative to panto. They would call these performances “Christmas shows” and they would fashion them out of the fairy stories that had inspired their commercial cousins, except these would be proper plays. All the children loved them, and even the adults were happy. But one day an evil spell was cast and the directors grew tired of their Cinderellas and their Snow Queens. “Surely there’s something different we can put on,” they cried. “What about some Roald Dahl?”

2 December 2014 The Guardian

Scotch and Soda

An Underbelly/Company 2 review

IT'S A FORMULA with a proven track record. Last year’s Limbo, the Australian centrepiece of Edinburgh’s Christmas programme, which also enjoyed long runs in London, showed what was possible when you brought together a crack team of musicians and a handful of skilled acrobats, then framed them with a grungy cabaret aesthetic in the Paradiso spiegeltent. Presented by the Underbelly and Company 2, Scotch and Soda ticks the same boxes, and has enough musicality to keep a festive audience diverted for 60 minutes, but it is no match for Limbo’s sassiness, imagination and jeopardy.


30 November 2014 Scotland on Sunday

Arts preview: Slava’s Snowshow, Edinburgh

An Edinburgh Festival Theatre preview.

IT'S 1996 and, as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe begins, concern at the Assembly Rooms about one of this year’s big shows.It’s a clown piece from Russia which has won a Time Out Award in London, but nobody in Scotland knows what something with the mysterious name of Slava’s Snowshow could be. Business at the box office is sluggish.The marketing department takes emergency action. Publicist Liz Smith has seen the show in London and knows it has the potential to be a hit. “I thought it was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen,” she says today. “But then, in the first week it came to Assembly, it hadn’t sold and it wasn’t being talked about.” To make sure it was talked about, she started giving tickets away in the belief that word-of-mouth would do the rest. The plan worked.



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