5 August 2010 Scotland on Sunday
Edinburgh International Festival review, including Caledonia
IN THIS year's Edinburgh International Festival, Jonathan Mills set out to shift our cultural centre of gravity. By drawing on the art of the Americas and Australasia, he aimed to give the event an unfamiliar Pacific flavour. In the dance, opera and music line-up, I imagine this was the case, whether it was in the South Pacific dances of Lemi Ponifasio or the early South American music in the Treasures And Traditions series. By contrast, the theatre programme was primarily an Atlantic experience.
26 August 2010 Northings
By Alistair Beaton. A National Theatre of Scotland review.
TO ENJOY theatre you must suspend your disbelief. You have to accept these are not mere actors stomping around a stage, but real characters at large in the world. For a play to work requires a collective act of faith. The same can be said of the financial system. It might seem counterintuitive that money will follow money, that the financial markets can create wealth out of wealth, but as long as everyone goes along with it, the results prove it is true. Only when faith wavers and doubt sets in do bubbles burst and markets crash.
By Alistair Beaton. A National Theatre of Scotland review.
"SCOTLAND will be mighty again", chant the investors who have just sunk their savings into a get-rich-quick scheme to colonise the Isthmus of Panama. "Was Scotland every mighty?" queries a bystander. The remark sets the tone of Alistair Beaton's satirical retelling of the country's most ignoble example of venture capitalism until our own banking crisis, a connection the playwright is quick to exploit.
By Bryony Lavery.A National Theatre of Scotland review.
THE strength of Beautiful Burnout is not so much in Bryony Lavery's script, although it has some nice poetical flourishes, as in the production by the National Theatre of Scotland and Frantic Assembly, which does a fine job at capturing the choreographic grace, poise and rhythm of boxing. The story beyond the ring is too lightly written, but the physical action from gym to big fight has a mighty macho power.
Interview with Deacon Blue Star. A National Theatre of Scotland preview.
WHEN Lorraine McIntosh takes to the stage for the premiere of the National Theatre of Scotland's Beautiful Burnout, she knows who her fiercest critic will be. In the first-night audience will be Ricky Ross, her husband and fellow Deacon Blue bandmate, who is a voracious theatregoer - a three-times-a-week man, she says - and no mean director himself. A couple of years ago, he staged a mystery play at their local church and, according to McIntosh, made a tremendous job of it. So when it comes to her high-profile performance with the NTS, she knows he'll tell it like it is - just as she has always been frank with him about his music.
FOR a recap of the story of modern theatre, check out this daft and delightful mock wedding reception by Random Accomplice and the National Theatre of Scotland. It is a whirlpool collision of performance art, site-specific theatre, pantomime, camp, Broadway musical, sentimental drama, standup comedy and first-person confessional. There's even a line from Shakespeare.
Various artists. A National Theatre of Scotland review.
THEY tell us we live in a hyper-connected world where anyone who is not already your Facebook friend is only a Chatroulette encounter away. We're still figuring out what all this means, but the extra connectivity seems to have gone hand in hand with greater atomisation. This is the irony played with in Allotment, the final instalment of the National Theatre of Scotland's series of exuberant art events in an empty shop in Govan.
IN interviews to promote this National Theatre of Scotland reworking of the JM Barrie classic, director John Tiffany has talked about the ambitious scale of the production. With its 17-strong cast, live music, extensive flying and pyrotechnic magic, it is bigger, he reckons, even than his staging of 'Black Watch'. This may well be the case but, for all the considerable achievements of Tiffany's various collaborators, their combined efforts seem to squash the story's playfulness. It is a production too much about shade, too little about light.
27 March 2010 The Scotsman
By Alistair Beaton. A National Theatre of Scotland preview.
IT is a story about easy money in a get-rich-quick culture. It is a tale of calamitous financial mismanagement. It involves reckless risk, poor planning and ends up with the economy of a whole country in crisis. Yet the investors most responsible for the disaster get their money back. And then some. ¥ Alistair Beaton Ring any bells? It did with playwright Alistair Beaton when he stumbled across the story of the Darien Scheme.
17 March 2010 Northings
THE theme of fathers failing to communicate with their sons is an old one. It is an obsession of today's animated movies and it is central to Miracle Man, Douglas Maxwell's new play for the National Theatre of Scotland’s tdf trilogy.
By Cathy Forde/Rob Drummond. A National Theatre of Scotland review.
IMAGINE being the only sober guest at a party of teenagers. Imagine you don't know any of them. Imagine they get drunker still. The evening would be deeply tedious. About as tedious as Cathy Forde's Empty, in which a 16-year-old's attempt to get a snog spirals into an orgy of sex, drugs and flooded bathrooms.
ANOTHER month, another Douglas Maxwell classroom play. In the excellent Promises Promises (still on tour), he gave us a teacher at the end of her career who snaps under the pressure of long-buried childhood repressions. In The Miracle Man for the National Theatre of Scotland, he gives us Ossian MacDonald, a thirtysomething PE teacher who is living in the shadow of his father. That man, a famous poet, is dying of cancer, giving his son the possibility of escaping his insecurity complex and reaching a delayed maturity.
10 February 2010 The Guardian
A National Theatre of Scotland blog.
IN a recent interview about Wall of Death, the director, Vicky Featherstone, let slip a revealing phrase. She was talking about the artist Stephen Skrynka's attempt to ride a motorbike around the Ken Fox Troupe's fun-fair attraction, a six-metre-high spherical wall. It was that act, she said, that turned the event into a piece of theatre, then qualified it with the phrase, "whatever theatre means".
By Stephen Skrynka and the Ken Fox Troupe. A National Theatre of Scotland review.
IN April, the National Theatre of Scotland is staging Peter Pan. If that production is half as weightless as the Ken Fox Troupe riding the Wall of Death, it will be breathtaking. Harnessing the properties of centrifugal force, this family of old-school entertainers ride their low-slung Indian motorcycles around a vertiginous drum with heart-stopping panache. You will believe a boy can fly.
About Promises Promises and others. A Random Accomplice/National Theatre of Scotland preview.
DOUGLAS Maxwell has a refreshingly honest way of telling you how badly his plays nearly turned out. He spent years, for example, working on a commission from the National Theatre of Scotland only to end up with a 200-page script that was quite unstageable. They described it as more of a novel than a play and, today, he doesn't even think it would have made much of a novel.
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