28 August 2016 Scotland on Sunday

Anything That Gives Off Light

By Jessica Almasy, Davey Anderson, Rachel Chavkin, Brian Ferguson and Sandy Grierson. A National Theatre of Scotland/TEAM/Edinburgh International Festival review

A LESS reactionary analysis of the way stories from Scotland’s history have shaped the identity of the present comes in Anything That Gives Off Light, a collaboration between Brooklyn company the TEAM, the National Theatre of Scotland and the Edinburgh International Festival. It’s a theatrical road movie in which Red, an American woman played by Jessica Almasy, winds up in a pub where she befriends Brian and Iain, a couple of Scots played by Brian Ferguson and Sandy Grierson. Together they drive to the country’s talismanic tourist destinations, trying to connect their own lives to the land of Culloden and the Highland clearances. “I’m calibrating my Scottishness,” says Brian.


19 August 2016 Variety

Anything That Gives Off Light

By Jessica Almasy, Davey Anderson, Rachel Chavkin, Brian Ferguson and Sandy Grierson. A National Theatre of Scotland/TEAM/Edinburgh International Festival review

MOST theatrical road movies take a trip through the landscape; this one goes on a journey through time. Directed by Rachel Chavkin, “Anything That Gives Off Light,” part of the Edinburgh International Festival, is a Scottish-U.S. co-production that digs deep into the collective past of the two nations to examine the gap between truth and mythology. If it sometimes feels more like a political treatise than a fully fledged drama, it is nonetheless compellingly acted by the American actress Jessica Almasy with Scotland’s Brian Ferguson and Sandy Grierson, and constructed with a heady disregard for the Aristotelian unities.


31 May 2016 The Guardian

The 306: Dawn

By Oliver Emanuel. A National Theatre of Scotland/Perth Theatre review.

THERE'S mounting evidence that every playwright recruited to write about the first world war is issued with a kit bag containing three obligatory scenes. There’s the one in a recruitment office where a schoolboy lies about his age; the one about a soldier saying goodbye to his sweetheart; and, of course, the one about the Christmas football match in no man’s land. All are present and correct in this contribution to the 14–18 Now centenary commemorations, but happily they are just the beginning for playwright Oliver Emanuel.


3 May 2016 The Guardian

This Restless House

By Zinnie Harris. A Citizens/National Theatre of Scotland review.

IT USUALLY feels like a handicap that the Greeks kept all the gory action off stage, but when you see the slaughter of George Anton’s Agamemnon in Zinnie Harris’s sinewy reworking of The Oresteia, you have some sympathy for their restraint. Fresh out of the bath, stark naked and lacerated from head to toe, Anton writhes and flounders around the stage at the mercy of Pauline Knowles’s knife-wielding Clytemnestra until she inflicts the fatal wound. It’s not a pretty sight. Nor does Harris intend it to be. She makes it plain that the stakes are high and this is a Clytemnestra who knows exactly what she wants.


14 April 2016 The Guardian

Squaddies, goblins and sex with Macbeth: 10 years of the National Theatre of Scotland

A National Theatre of Scotland retrospective

THERE had been talk of a Scottish national theatre since the early 19th century, so it was with considerable weight of expectation that Vicky Featherstone launched her self-styled “theatre without walls” 10 years ago. She did so in a way that would define its maverick spirit. Not with red carpets, classic texts and theatrical grandees, but with 10 site-specific performances around the country on the same weekend. I saw amateur actors on a ferry in Lerwick, domestic drama in an Aberdeen council flat, a first minister’s question time written by schoolchildren and abseiling actors scaling down a Glasgow tower block. The National Theatre of Scotland had arrived.



16 February 2016 The Guardian

The James Plays

By Rona Munro. An NTS/National Theatre/EIF review

THERE'S a tremendous scene in the final part of Rona Munro’s trilogy about the 15th century in which a narcissistic James III of Scotland (Matthew Pidgeon) gives his estranged wife, the Margaret of Denmark (Malin Crépin), a full-length mirror. He hopes she’ll look into this novel Italian import and see herself as she really is. Queen Margaret does exactly that but, to his dismay, she rather likes what she sees. It’s an exchange that could stand for the whole of this historical epic, which starts in 1406, when James I became Scotland’s king in exile, and ends in 1488 and the death of James III.





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