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Oct 2nd

Witches Take Flight in Eastwood in Support of Birds

By Cameron Lowe
“The Witches of Eastwick” Musical Plays at Eastwood Park Theatre
The Witches of Eastwick

Following on from sell-out productions of “Footloose” and “Fiddler on the Roof”, Theatre Guild Glasgow will be performing the hit musical “The Witches of Eastwick” at Eastwood Park Theatre from 7th – 11th October. 
The Witches of Eastwick is a  musical  based on the  novel of the same name  by  John Updike . It was adapted by  John Dempsey  (lyrics and book) and  Dana P. Rowe  (music), directed by Eric Schaeffer, and produced by  Cameron Mackintosh. 
The story surrounds Alexandra Spofford, Jane Smart, and Sukie Rougemont who are social outcasts in the sleepy town of Eastwick. Frustrated and bored by their mundane lives, a shared longing and desire for "all manner of man in one man" comes to life in the form of a charismatic stranger, a  devil -like character; Darryl Van Horne. Seducing each of the women in turn, Darryl teaches them how to further expand their powers locked within and, though their new unorthodox lifestyle, they scandalise the town. As their powers become more sinister and events spiral out of control, the women come to realise that Darryl's influence is corrupting everyone he comes into contact with and they resolve to use their new-found strength to exile him from their lives. 
RSPB In deciding whether to use the power of this bewitching musical for good or for evil, Theatre Guild elected to support our feathered friends via a donation to the RSPB. 10% of tickets sales from the Tuesday evening performance will be donated to the society dedicated to the protection of winged creatures around the UK.  As the show features ‘flying’ witches, this association couldn’t be more appropriate.  

The show is accompanied by a live band and directed by an experienced professional production team led by Artistic Director Alasdair Hawthorn, choreographed by Suzanne Shanks and musically directed by David Fisher. The cast of 40 local residents have been rehearsing for six months on evenings and weekends to ensure that this £35,000 production (which features some stunning effects) is ready for a live audience on the opening night. 
Tickets are already selling fast with only a small number remaining for the Friday and Saturday night.
Fly down to Eastwood Park Theatre where tickets are only £14.50 - £16.50.
 “The Witches of Eastwick”
Eastwood Park Theatre, Rouken Glen Road, Giffnock, Glasgow, G46 6UG
7th– 11th October 2014
Evenings:  7.30pm
Sat Matinee:  2.30pm
Tickets: £14.50 - £16.50
Box Office: 0141 577 4956
Web site:
Sep 22nd


By Cameron Lowe

By Lucy Komisar in New York 

Can a director and a set designer destroy a play? The production of Samuel Beckett’s “Embers” at BAM provides a strong argument.

Set of

Set of “Embers,” photo Ros Kavanagh.

A huge skull sits in the center stage. Inside are two actors (Andrew Bennett and Áine Ní Mhuiri) who read the lines of the various male and female characters of Beckett’s play. I thought the production was dreadful. And I thought that maybe the play was also dreadful.

But then I read the script. I realized the play is much better than this production would have you believe. Beckett’s play is about a man, an unsuccessful writer, who is thinking over his life and relation with his father, who may have committed suicide by walking into the sea. His father had told him that he was a “washout,” a failure.

The man does not have happy memories about his late wife, who is presented as a nonetheless affectionate lady. He also hates his daughter, whose only fault appears to be playing Chopin badly.

As lights flicker over the skull, illuminating one part and then another, taking your attention from the text, I realized that director Gavin Quinn of the Pan Pan Theatre decided that he was the star, not Beckett. So, he overwhelmed the script and the characters with a kitchy “avant garde” set (the skull by Andrew Clancy) and direction.

If the play had been done with the characters, and different actors for the various characters in the script, in a relatively normal setting where everyone was seen (normal meaning not naturalistic, but that you can see the characters interacting), it might have been interesting. The way director Trevor Nunn did superbly last year in “All That Fall,” another Beckett radio play. Pan Pan did the same play a year earlier and used no live actors: the audience sat in darkness listening to recorded voices. Not too sorry I missed it.

Quinn destroyed Beckett’s “Embers,” entombing the actors in a giant skull, so you never see them. Sitting on stage left, I sometimes saw the female character though the ghastly eye of the skull, but never the male. That was for the audience at stage right. And the loud miked voices provided no difference or subtlety in delivery.

The skull in fact was a perfect commentary on this production. Deadly.

Embers.” By Samuel Beckett. Directed by Gavin Quinn. BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn. 718-636-4100. Opened Sept 17; closes Sept. 20 2014. 9/19/14

Lucy Komisar is a New York journalist and theatre critic. Her web site is The Komisar Scoop (  

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Sep 16th

Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap at Theatre Royal, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe
Agatha Christie’s record breaking whodunit returns to Glasgow to keep a fresh audience guessing.
The Mousetrap 60th Anniversary Tour

The Mousetrap is famously the longest running production in British Theatre history; having been performed in London’s West End continuously since its opening in 1952.  With over 25,000 performances in its London home alone, this play is clearly doing something right!  To celebrate its 60th anniversary, the play licenced 60 productions worldwide including a tour of UK regional theatres for the first time.  With phenomenal success, the tour has been extended to give an even wider audience access to this record breaking production.
Understandably, the play is in the classic mould being based in an imposing manor house in post war Britain where 8 principal characters are cut off from the outside world by a heavy snow storm.  A murder has been committed in nearby London and during the first act we come to appreciate that among the assembled characters are two more prospective victims … and the murderer.
The styling throughout will please any Agatha Christie fan.  The standing Great Hall set is suitably grand and reassuringly solid with an imposing fireplace and panelled walls.  Costumes and furniture fit the bill beautifully and even sound is very subtly amplified to maintain an intimate and authentic feel to the performance.  Direction from Ian Watt-Smith also fits the period nicely where (particularly female) actors are called upon to deliver melodrama and knuckle-in-the-mouth stifled screams – think Grace Kelly in “Dial M For Murder”.  Helen Clapp delivered this beautifully as Mollie Ralston with excellent support from this small cast including Luke Jenkins as Sgt. Trotter.
All in all, this production delivers what you might expect from a 60 year old Agatha Christie classic which has been faithfully preserved.  Unfortunately, for me, this included a rather pedestrian plot and 8 caricature personas along with a reasonably obvious conclusion.  I think that modern audiences expect more of the unexpected from their intelligent suspense dramas these days.  However, I don’t want to detract from this production too much as it clearly achieves what it set out to achieve.
Agatha Christie fans will love it.
The Mousetrap
Theatre Royal, Glasgow
15 – 20 Sep 2014
Tickets £11.90 - £34.90 (bkg fee) 
Sep 12th

Journey's End at Bolton Octagon

By Cameron Lowe
Review by Kirstie  Niland

Journey's End

Playwright R. C. Sherriff originally considered calling Journey’s End "Suspense" and Waiting" and this is exactly what it entails. The horrific reality of the First World War, where men were sent out to the trenches and waited to die.

The Octagon’s theatre-in-the-round gives heightened intimacy to this remarkable and moving performance, directed by internationally acclaimed Director David Thacker. The arena layout also lends itself perfectly to the stage set of an officers’ dugout.
Enormous attention to detail has been paid to the set, built from 50 scrap pallets, 100 recycled scaffolding boards, 21000L of top soil, 700 hessian sandbags & 200m of steel. The result is paradoxically inviting, belying the horror that lies beyond. Even with the sound effects of gunfire and bombs going off around us, it seems the officers are relatively safe in their cocoon.
So it’s understandable that Hibbert (Ciaran Kellgren) would rather let Stanhope (James Dutton) shoot him dead in the dug-out than face the torturous walk to the terror of the frontline. Even though Stanhope brands him a “little worm” you know that every one of the men there must feel the same, they just don’t say it.
Under David Thacker’s brilliant direction, asking the actors to believe it is really they themselves waiting to die, allowing them to improvise, Journey’s End comes painfully alive.
The rawness of Ciaran Kellgren’s emotion as Hibbert breaks down before Stanhope’s revolver is truly palpable; as is Stanhope’s when his school friend Raleigh (Tristan Brooke), who annoys him so much, meets his fate with the same ready acceptance that he goes to the fontline. His eager innocence, finding being chosen for the raid “frightfully exciting”, contrasts sharply with Stanhope’s shame when he censors Raleigh’s letter home, only to discover words full of praise not the disappointment he expected.
Journey's End
Every single actor gives the play depth. James Dutton is riveting as he shows the audience the stark complexity and vulnerability of Stanhope beneath the angry aloofness. And even without speaking, the local drama students guarding the dug-out throughout, playing cards and polishing their weapons, underline the agonising wait.
Based on Sherriff’s own experiences, each of the men he has written into the play has his own coping mechanism, and each of the actors manages to convey the hidden pain poignantly. 
When Stanhope mentally pushes Trotter (Richard Graham) to react, accusing him of always feeling the same, you want to shout “Stop”. Titanic star Richard Graham, for once in a role like his own real self, rather than the film and television bad guys he’s become famous for, makes you warm to his gentle, jovial nature. But you know that his retreat into conversations about food and 8ft dahlias is a safety net, not a lack of emotion.
Similarly, Osborne, the heroic tower of strength, finds his distraction in poems from Alice in Wonderland. David Birrell who plays him exudes courage and kindness, making it entirely credible that he would reassure the others and protect Raleigh to the death.
The actors in this performance successfully lay bare the concealed and raw emotions of the real men who waited for death in dugouts, where the smell of bacon mixed with the stench of rats.
Journey’s End is played out over “6 eternal days”, which as Trotter informs us, is 144 hours, or 8640 minutes. This moving performance makes you feel every second of it.
Journey’s End is at the Octagon from Thursday 4 September – Saturday 4 October 2014. Tickets are from £26.50 - £10 on 01204 520661, or at 
Sep 10th


By Cameron Lowe

by Lucy Komisar in New York 

Take a trip back to Berlin circa 1930. Inside a cabaret, red lamps light round black tables, a waiter brings wine and food for you, and scantily clad musicians play jazzy music. It’s a charming evening for a sophisticated audience – or is it?

Alan Cumming as the emcee with the Kit Kat Klub dancers, photo Joan Marcus.

Alan Cumming as the emcee with the Kit Kat Klub dancers, photo Joan Marcus.

The decadence is represented by the master of ceremonies (Alan Cumming), who is in-your-face crude, sexual, raunchy, almost elegantly so with his white face, glinty eyes and red lips, white suspenders pulled over a nude chest and twisted around his crotch, nipples colored red. He has a German accent.

Cumming is excellent and chilling in the role, which he created in 1998 and which is smartly directed by Sam Mendes. The memorable songs were written by John Kander (music) and Fred Ebb (lyrics). Orchestra seats set up as cabaret tables pull you into the drama. If you see one musical these days, make it this one.

Dancers sing Wilkommen (welcome). And everyone is. Into the cabaret comes Clifford Bradshaw (Bill Hecht), an American arriving in Berlin to work on a novel. At the Berlin train station, he had met Ernst Ludwig, a German who offered him to way to make some money. He just has to deliver a briefcase. Ludwig is a Nazi. He referred Bradshaw to Fräulein Schneider’s boarding house.

Michelle Williams as Sally and Alan Cumming as the emcee, photo Joan Marcus.

Michelle Williams as Sally and Alan Cumming as the emcee, photo Joan Marcus.

At the club for diversion, Bradshaw meets Sally Bowles (Michelle Williams), 19, an American singer who is not very sure of herself or her future, and is sleeping with the club owner who can help her career.
As Bradshaw appears to be bi-sexual (as was Isherwood, who wrote the stories on which this is based), he turns out to be more than a good friend to Sally when she needs a place to stay. Hecht is fine as the cool American. Williams’ voice is rich and sexy, but she is rather bland and too wholesomely blonde as Sally. She makes you wish for Liza Minnelli, who did the movie role.

Bill Hecht, as Cliff, Michelle Williams as Sally, Danny Burstein as Herr Shultz, Linda Edmond as Fraulein Schneider, photo Joan Marcus.

Bill Hecht, as Cliff, Michelle Williams as Sally, Danny Burstein as Herr Shultz, Linda Edmond as Fraulein Schneider, photo Joan Marcus.

Fräulein Schneider (a very good Linda Edmond) is keeping company with Herr Shultz (the excellent Danny Burstein), a Jewish fruit vendor. Also at her boarding house is the prostitute Fräulein Kost (Gayle Rankin), who does business with visiting sailors. When Schneider catches her at it and warns her, Kost gets revenge by telling Ludwig that Schultz is a Jew.

A Kit Kat Klub waiter starts to sing a patriotic song that turns into the unnerving Nazi theme, “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.”

Can Fräulein Schneider marry a Jew. Shultz tells her, “It is not always good to settle for the lowest apple on the tree, climb a little. I will catch you.” Then a brick is thrown threw his shop window. And Fräulein Schneider is singing a Nazi song.

The most stunning number shows the emcee/Cumming and an actor in a gorilla suit.

I know what you’re thinking:
You wonder why I chose her
Out of all the ladies in the world.
That’s just a first impression,
What good’s a first impression?
If you knew her like I do
It would change your point of view.

If you could see her through my eyes,
You wouldn’t wonder at all.
If you could see her through my eyes
I guarantee you would fall (like I did)
When we’re in public together
I hear society moan.
But if they could see her through my eyes
Maybe they’d leave us alone.

How can I speak of her virtues?
I don’t know where to begin
She’s clever, she’s smart, she reads music
She doesn’t smoke or drink gin (like I do)
Yet, when we’re walking together
They sneer if I’m holding her hand,
But if they could see her through my eyes
Maybe they’d all understand.

I understand your objection,
I grant you the problem’s not small.
But if you could see her through my eyes…
She wouldn’t look Jewish at all.

Alan Cumming as the emcee, photo Joan Marcus.

Alan Cumming as the emcee, photo Joan Marcus.

Earlier productions excised the word “Jewish.” (I couldn’t find a production photo for this scene; maybe it’s still too controversial.)

The collapse of the personal connections in the play trails the collapse of German society. Cliff wants Sally to come with him to the U.S. She ignores what is happening around her. She’ll hang onto the glamor of the Kit Kat Klub.

At the end — also not in earlier versions — the emcee pulls open his black leather coat to show a striped shirt of the kind worn by camp inmates with the yellow star for Jews and pink for homosexuals. The darker version belongs.

Cabaret.” Book by Joe Masteroff, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb. Directed by Sam Mendes. Based on the play “I Am a Camera” by John Van Druten, based on stories by Christopher Isherwood. Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, New York City. 212-719-1300. Opened April 24, 2014; closes end of March 2015. 9/8/14.

Lucy Komisar is a New York journalist aand theatre critic. Her web site is 

Sep 3rd


By Cameron Lowe

By Lucy Komisar in New York 

Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, photo Evgenia Eliseeva.

Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, photo Evgenia Eliseeva.

Wrapped in a white gown, an iconic white gardenia in her hair, Audra McDonald channels Billie Holiday — her voice, her accent, her manner — till you believe you are sitting in the slightly tacky Philadelphia dive where Holiday sang her last songs. “What a little moonlight can do” becomes a magical mood changer. It’s helped by the dreamlike direction of Lonny Price.

One great –McDonald — sings another great, Lady Day. Her imitation is brilliant. She has mastered Holiday’s accent, a slight trill, a broad vowel. Lady Day did blues with a jazz beat, following mentors Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong.

McDonald sings Holiday’s well-known songs as if they were dramas. Her phrasing in “Strange Fruit” is a distinctive intense call of pain.

The back story of her “God Bless the Child” is a parent refusing to help a child. The projection on the wall is of Arthur Herzog Jr., who wrote the song with Holiday. Herzog’s father preferred his sister, who ended up with most of the family money, so the song-writer wrote, “God Bless the Child, who’s got his own… [money]!” Holiday’s mother also refused the generosity her needy daughter required.

Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday with bass player, photo Evgenia Eliseeva.

Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday with bass player, photo Evgenia Eliseeva.

As an actress, McDonald movingly interprets the story of Lady Day – arrested on a drug charge after her lover put drugs in her suitcase. As a result, she couldn’t get a cabaret card to work in New York City, which destroyed her career. The play shows her harassed by a parole officer.

The story is not only the tragic drama of one of America’s greatest artists, but a commentary about America’s repressive drug laws, which destroy people — black users jailed, white upper class Wall Street/Hollywood users given a pass — while more harmful cigarettes and alcohol remained legal because of the powerful corporations that market them.

Holiday would have had an appropriately dark musical comment about this happening in a country with a black president.

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” Written by Lanie Robertson; directed by Lonny Price. Circle in the Square, 50th Street between Bway & 8th Avenue, New York City. 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250. Opened April 13, 2014; closes Oct 5, 2014. 8/1/14.

Lucy Komisar is a New York journalist and theatre critic.  Her web site is "The Komisar Scoop"  (  

Sep 2nd

West End Heroes to Return to The Dominion Theatre

By Cameron Lowe
Michael Ball, Britain’s leading musical theatre star, a double Olivier Award winner, multi-platinum recording artist and a hugely popular radio and TV presenter, is announced today as the host of the 2014 West End Heroes gala concert.

West End Heroes

Following the phenomenal success of West End Heroes last year, which saw the casts of many of the biggest West End musicals unite with the finest UK military bands and musicians in a stunning performance that raised over £88,000 for the Help For Heroes charity, the newly refurbished Dominion Theatre is to once again host the event, this year on Sunday 28 September at 7.30pm Michael Ball will oversee proceeedings and also perform in The 2014 West End Heroes gala concert, which will again unite the country’s top military musicians with even more West End performers and productions in a dazzling showcase of showstopping numbers, unlikely song mash-ups and stunning choreography and precision drilling.

He said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to take part in West End Heroes and to show my respect, admiration and support for the amazing men and women who‘ve literally put their lives on the line for us all. It’ll be a joy and a challenge to host the entire evening (as well as hopefully performing a couple of songs) and I can promise it’s going to be a concert not to be missed. And, if all goes to plan there will be some wonderful surprises in store!”

Returning to form the centerpiece of the gala and under the directorship of Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs will be The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, which is widely regarded as one of the finest military bands in the UK and incorporates the celebrated RAF Squadronaires Big Band. West End Heroes will once again be generously supported by many TV and theatre stars and will feature line-ups from current and past West End Shows.

This year’s event has set a target to raise more than £100,000. General Manager of the Dominion Theatre, David Pearson, said: “It is an honour and a privilege to once again host West End Heroes and we are delighted to announce Michael Ball as our MC. He is the biggest musical theatre star in the UK and we know he will do a magnificent job as MC as well as delivering some stunning numbers himself. The Dominion is looking forward to welcoming the concert as one of the first major events following the extensive restoration and refurbishment programme, which will be completed over the summer.”
Aug 31st

Dirty Dancing at The King's Theatre Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe
Review by Chris Lowe

Dirty Dancing the classic story on stage is here for you to enjoy at the King’s Theatre Glasgow. 

Dirty Dancing

The story of Baby Houseman (Roseanna Frascona) and Johnny Castle (Gareth Bailey) and the music that accompanies their blossoming love/lust - is known across the globe. This iconic show is a welcome addition to the musical theatre line up at The Kings.
Featuring all the iconic moments from the film, Dirty Dancing does exactly what it says on the tin. It brings Johnny and Baby's unforgettable love story to life with passion and credibility to the sheer delight of everyone in the audience.
Dirty Dancing

Set at Kellerman's summer camp in the 1960s, the clean, cheesy, wholesome fun that goes on is contrasted by the hot steamy backstage drama. Where Dirty Dancing truly comes into its own is in showcasing the amazing dancing. This cast work extremely hard throughout and their incredible movement is mesmerising. 
The entire play, including its staging, oozes with cheese. Once you buy into this fact and take its approach to the film as tongue-in-cheek, the characters and their struggles (ridiculous as it may seem)  become a whole lot more enjoyable!
As the final hip-swivelling moves are made, the buzz from the audience speaks for itself. This show is an empowering, romantic tale which will stand the test of time for decades to come.
Dirty Dancing
The King's Theatre, Glasgow
Until 13 September 
Tickets £10 -  £79.90 (bkg fee) 
Aug 29th

Edinburgh Fringe Political Plays: Party Politics

By Cameron Lowe

By Lucy Komisar in Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Fringe in August, the largest theater festival in the world, presents hundreds of plays as well as musicals, dance, comedy, cabaret and spoken word performances.

I chose political plays, and nine out of ten I saw were excellent. I divided them into three groups, repression, war and politics. Here’s the third group, party politics. The parties ought to be the solution to the first two. But maybe not so much.

The plays are “The Pitiless Storm,” “Spoiling” and “Kingmaker.” The first two deal with the issue of Scottish independence from the UK which comes to a vote Sept 18th. The other, equally relevant, is about the corruption of UK Tory politics. The point made in the first two is that Scotland is progressive. Nationalist and labor members dominate the Scottish parliament. And they are almost all Scottish MPs in London. But set against the Tories, they are a minority in Westminster. So, staying in the union blocks progressive policies most Scottish voters want.

“The Pitiless Storm”

Bob Cunningham (David Hayman) is a Scottish labor leader preparing to address an audience of his comrades. He wears a gray suit and a Scottish plaid tie. A sign on the podium says “Unity (drawing of clasped hands) Strength.” But unity is sorely lacking.

He is getting an OBE – Order of the British Empire. And as he rehearses his speech, he talks to his son in the empty auditorium. In reality, this play by Chris Dolan is directed by the actor’s son, David Hayman Jr. And Hayman’s convictions are clear, illuminating his forceful performance. He is a man of the Scottish left.

Cunningham was a radical. He remembers a peace march he walked in at 20. He sings a line of a Spanish civil war song. He says, “We fought for internationalism.”

David Hayman as Bob Cunningham in

David Hayman as Bob Cunningham in “The Pitiless Storm.”

Now, the mood of the Labor Party has changed. He talks about how workers have been treated badly, thrown on the scrapheap. He lists his achievements, but acknowledges that he got workers education –but not jobs.

We see Cunningham struggling to defend his past and to come to grips with reality. He thinks of his wife. Ethel says: “Wasn’t you, Bob who destroyed more industry than Thatcher. You didn’t put a million young people on the dole. Afghanistan, Iraq, they weren’t your wars.”

He refers to the Labor Prime Minister that took the UK into the Iraq war as “Tony criminal liar fucking Blair,” responsible for “the destruction of everything we held dear.”

And on other issues. He declares that going on a peace march against a Labor government policy in Iraq and Afghanistan would have been wrong. But he mourns that Ethel, who he adored, went marching with “the ladies” – and left him.

In his memory his son reminds him of his goals: “An end to peerages, spin, cash for honours…”

His guilt overwhelms him. He thinks that he fought for miners, shipbuilders, homeless, the unemployed. And now he thinks that was just keeping alive the yoke of empire.

He thinks, “Thank you, thank you Westminster and the Great British Commonwealth…. for fucking up my life and everything I stood for and what I thought it was to be a man. An O – B – fucking E, playing the bastards at their own game.”

Now it has come to a “tacky class war against nationalism.” He says there are “plenty of dragons still to fight in the United Kingdom. But they’re up here as well as down there. Think of your Scottish ruling class. …We’ve got to stand firm on this one, friends.”

It was a passionate plea to vote yes on the Sept. 18th referendum for Scottish independence from the UK.

The Pitiless Storm.” Written by Chris Dolan; directed by David Hayman Jr.


There are piles of crumpled papers on the floor in front of a brown wood desk. Out of it pushes/rises a lady in a purple dress who is very pregnant. In “Spoiling” by John McCann, directed by Orla O’Loughlin, Fiona (the excellent Gabriel Quigley) is the Scottish foreign minister designate who is preparing to give a major speech about the newly independent Scotland and its relationship to the UK. It’s never said what ruling party she belongs to. You have to figure it’s the majority Nationalists.

The date is the future, after the September 18th vote on independence which here is established as a “Yes.”

Gabriel Quigley as Scottish foreign minister designate and Richard Clements as party worker in

Gabriel Quigley as Scottish foreign minister designate and Richard Clements as party worker in “Spoiling,” photo Jeremy Abrahams.

She has been promoted by the party, because what she said about the referendum galvanized the public.

But now the party wants to counter the vote for independence. She fears that the Scots voted for independence, but “we are indentured,” and the party leaders will finesse the vote. She doesn’t like the speech that she’s been given to present. It uses words like “integration.” .

The party is worried that she won’t stay in line, on message. They send to her office a young party hack, Mark (Richard Clements), one of those interchangeable bland-faced young men in a suit who transmits the worries of his bosses that she won’t stick to their script. They emphasize that “we can’t embarrass our guests,” the English. She is angry that the schedule has the Brits speaking first, as if they were welcoming everyone on to “their house.”

The crumpled papers out of which she rises are her speech. Mark picks up a paper and she reads it: “The people of Scotland did not fall for a project…” She talks about what the English did to the Scots. In passing, Mark asks who presented her with child. Turns out she was “screwed” by a Brit. [My word, but you get the idea.]

Smart and clever, it’s what Scottish intellectuals think of the September 18th independence vote. Stay tuned.

Spoiling.” Written by John McCann; directed by Orla O’Loughlin. At the Traverse Theatre.


A slick Tory MP, Max Newman (the superb Alan Cox), is plotting the moves that will make him a British prime minister. You get an idea of the corruption awaiting the Scots if they don’t get their own country.

The chief character in this engrossing play by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky, directed by Hannah Eidinow, is a not very disguised Boris Johnson, the Tory mayor of London, who has greater aspirations.

The dialogue reminds one of Johnson and other politicians – especially Labor prime minister Tony Blair – who are famous for public relations manipulations. One description of their ilk in the play is of “a teddy bear crossed with a serial killer.”

Now Max is in a contest for the Tory leadership, which could move him toward his quest. He’s got some dark things in his past, affairs, he jokes “embezzlement, and I don’t go to church.” But he quips, “The public just don’t care.” That’s because he looks like the rest of them, funny flawed like the rest of them, and therefore electable.

Alan Cox as Max Newman in

Alan Cox as Max Newman in “Kingmaker,” photo Jeremy Abrahams.

Unfortunately for Max, blocking his way is Eleanor Hopkirk (the very good Joanna Bending), an ambitious Tory MP, whose brother 20 years ago was a suicide, she says, after bullying by Max at one of England’s prestigious universities. Is this blackmail?

She has brought along Dan Regan (Laurence Dobiesz), a meek young MP who will be part of the deal.

But Max, a former newspaper editor, is more agile than she is. Max the bully is not one to be finessed. With wide brush strokes, talk reminiscent of a gangster, he begins a pincer movement. He accuses her of seeking power through the young guy. He suggests allegations of her drinking and promiscuity. And suddenly there’s the great PR device, a mea culpa. “This guy is our next PM, because he knows what it is to suffer.”

Yes, such manipulators are who the Brits have gotten as the PMs in both parties. Takes you back to the first plays, about why many Scots want to get out of Westminster.

Kingmaker.” Written by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky. Directed by Hannah Eidinow.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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Aug 29th

Original Strikers Visit Made In Dagenham Rehearsals

By Cameron Lowe
Original strikers visit Made in Dagenham rehearsals. 

Made in Dagenham Cast

Photo: Manuel Harlan

Rehearsals for the forthcoming West End musical Made In Dagenham are now underway, ahead of the show beginning previews on Thursday 9 October, with press night on Wednesday 5 November.  The company, led by Gemma Arterton, Adrian Der Gregorian and Isla Blair were recently visited by three of the original Ford Dagenham strikers, whose heart-warming and inspiring story provides the backdrop for the new musical, with book by Richard Bean, music by David Arnold and lyrics by Richard Thomas.

 Original strikers visit Made in Dagenham rehearsals
Photo: Manuel Harlan

Eileen Pullen, Vera Sime and Gwen Davis visited the central London rehearsal rooms to share with the cast their memories of working in the sewing rooms at the enormous factory and the momentous strike of 1968, which ultimately resulted in the passing of the Equal Pay Act. Rehearsal shots by the show’s official photographer Manuel Harlan, and featuring the cast and the Dagenham strikers, are attached.
The producers have also announced the release of 15,000 tickets priced at just £15 across all performances, including 150 for every preview of the show at London’s Adelphi Theatre.