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Apr 11th

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh

By Clare Brotherwood

I felt an air of excitement as I made my way to the King’s Theatre, knowing that the original version of its latest production was written by Edinburgher Robert Louis Stevenson, who is said to have based his story on Deacon Brodie, by day a respected businessman and councillor, but by night a housebreaker - and who lived not a mile from the theatre.

That excitement never left me. Adaptor David Edgar, famous for his award-winning reworking of Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby for the Royal Shakespeare Company, has teamed up with Jenny KIng’s Touring Consortium Theatre Company, Olivier Winner for Best Entertainment for its production of The Railways Children at the Waterloo Station Theatre, for this latest version of the classic Gothic horror.

And good, all-round entertainment it is.

Simon Higlett’s two-tiered set depicts, on the upper level, a foggy London street, while below, despite modest props, various scenes change seamlessly and effectively to provide an atmospheric backdrop, helped enormously by Richard Hammarton’s chilling music and sound effects and Mark Jonathan’s creepy lighting.

But Edgar’s version of this dark tale has an unexpected lighter side. He introduces to the story a sister for Jekyll, a fun-loving mother of two played with much warmth and humour by Polly Frame, while Phil Daniels, playing both title roles, becomes an almost Vaudevillian villain as Mr Hyde, mostly making us laugh more than shrink back in horror - although a couple of scenes are frighteningly graphic and had me worrying for the lives of the actors involved! It was also amusing to hear Daniels sporting a soft Edinburgh accent as Dr Jekyll while as Mr Hyde he is the epitomy of a Glaswegian drunk, and sounding not unlike Billy Connolly. It’s a brave act indeed for a Londoner to play Scots in Scotland, and I wonder, had he been playing these roles in Glasgow, if he’d have given Hyde the Edinburgh accent!

Adding to the more chilling aspect is Rosie Abraham who not only plays Jekyll’s niece and a maid but will remain in my memory as ‘the singer’, an enigmatic figure who bridges the scenes and whose plaintive strains sent shivers down my spine. Grace Hogg-Robinson, as Annie, also gives an emotion-driven performance, in contrast to Sam Cox as Poole, every inch the restrained butler.

As I said, this is good, all-round entertainment with some nice little touches from director Kate Saxon.

 

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

Tues 10 – Sat 14 April 2018

Box Office

0131 529 6000

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Tues 17 – Saturday 21 April 2018

Box Office

01274 432000

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Tues 1 – Saturday 5 May 2018

Box Office

01902 429 212

Cambridge Arts Theatre

Tues 8 – Sat 12 May 2018

Box Office

01223 503 333

Darlington Hippodrome

Tues 15 – Saturday 19 May 2018

Box Office

 

01325 405 405

 

Apr 5th

Jersey Boys at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 

A review by Suzanne Lowe

 

Having had the pleasure of watching Jersey Boys before I was more than a little excited to discover that the show would be returning to Glasgow.  You know how it is, you build up a show in your head only to actually find out it wasn’t quite as entertaining as you remembered.  This show certainly lived up to my expectations.  With a superb cast, well known songs and fast paced scene changes this was indeed a great night out at the theatre.

 

Jersey Boys tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  Cleverly revealing a past through the eyes of each band member.  A past which was well hidden from fans and record industry moguls.  Prison sentences and associations with the Mafia only coming to light as Jersey Boys came to fruition.  Each member’s memory of events slightly different.

 

Of course along with the revelations of a life behind the stage we get to experience the wonderful sounds of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  With hits such as ‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, ‘Oh What a Night’, and ‘Who Loves You?’ resonating around the auditorium, it was difficult not to find yourself singing along (normally a practice I would frown upon!)  The slick dance moves and exceptional voices a joy to watch and hear.

 

The supporting cast totally embraced the era and performed every number with gusto, many performing several roles.  Top marks have to go to Dayle Hodge (Frankie Valli), Simon Bailey (Tommy Devito), Declan Egan (Bob Gaudio) and Lewis Griffiths (Nick Massi).  All four giving outstanding performances.

 

With his amazing vocal range the unique voice of Frankie Valli was superbly recreated by Hodge.  Along with the incredible sound came a solid acting performance with a particularly moving scene depicting the moment Frankie learns of his daughter’s death.  A brief moment in the evening when the audience fell silent.

 

As Tommy Devito, Bailey gave us an insight into this stereotypical New Jersey tough guy.  As his connections with the mob and gambling debts become clear we are also drawn to his vulnerability.

 

Egan played the part of Bob Gaudio the genius behind the hit songs we all know and love.  His portrayal revealed a rather sensitive but focused individual endearing himself to the audience.  With superb vocals his performance has to be admired.

 

We are also introduced to Nick Massi with an intentionally laid back performance by Griffiths.  As the quieter member of the group and somewhat downtrodden by Devito, Griffiths gives us an insight into how Massi actually felt being part of The Four Seasons.

 

All four incredibly talented performers gave the audience a great night with their outstanding vocals added to memorable acting pieces.   Be assured that the life of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons was a story which had to be told.

 

And yes….definitely just as great a show second time round.

 

Jersey Boys - King's Theatre Glasgow

03/04/18 - 14/14/18

Matinee (Thu, Sat) 14:30, Evenings 19:30

Tickets £18 - £63.50

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/jersey-boys/kings-theatre/#buy-now

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7 p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

 

 

Apr 4th

A Play, A Pie and A Pint

By Clare Brotherwood

I moved to Edinburgh for the theatre.

There are five main ones, all within half an hour of my harbourside home, and each has something different to offer.

The Traverse is the flagship for new creative talent but, not surprisingly since it was founded to extend the spirit of the Edinburgh festivals, it offers something I’ve not come across anywhere else, though it is now world famous - a lunchtime theatre experience where your ticket includes a play, a pie and a drink, all for £13.50.

Apparently, it was first conceived in 2004 by the late David MacLennon (he of 7:84 fame), at the Oran Mor in Glasgow, as a platform for new Scottish plays. Now theatres in Cardiff, Bristol and Aberdeen also present PPP, while the Traverse has been collaborating with Oran Mor to present a varied programme from established names and new first time playwrights since 2009.

Its two five-week seasons are, from what I hear among the locals, eagerly awaited, so it’s best to book early for a seat in the 115-capacity Traverse 2 studio theatre.

The programme covers all sorts of themes, characters and stories. The latest season features new works by actor, director and playwright Rob Drummond, crime writer Val McDermid, screen writer Ann Marie di Mambro, and actress Meghan Tyler. But it started this week with an exciting and very enjoyable new approach to an historical figure in Gary McNair’s McGonagall’s Chronicles.

McNair’s dialogue is in the true style of Scotland’s best worst poet, and as the Victorian bard his delivery is spot on; his timing is better than any stand-up comedian’s and yet the story he relates of McGonagall’s quest for fame, is at times as moving as it is hilarious.

McNair is ably abetted by Brian James O’Sullivan, not only on keyboard and accordion but in various other guises, and musician Simon Liddell.

This play, together with a tasty haggis pie and - er, a coffee (I was to be driving later and in Scotland drinking is totally out if you’re going to get behind the wheel) is a great way to spend your lunch hour, have an excuse to meet up with friends or, at just 50-minutes long, an ideal introduction to the theatre for newcomers.

I’ll definitely be back!

McGonagall’s Chronicles runs until April 7 at 1pm with a 7pm performance on Apr 6.

April 10-17-21: Margaret Saves Scotland by Val McDermid

April 24-28: Eulogy by Rob Drummond

May 1-5: The Persians by Meghan Tyler

www.traverse.co.uk

 

0131 228 1404

Mar 27th

The Case of the Frightened Lady at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh

By Clare Brotherwood

After 30 years of reviewing productions at the Theatre Royal Windsor for various publications, on-stage regulars, not to mention Bill Kenwright, may have wondered where I have been for the past year.

The answer is… Edinburgh! With five theatres on my doorstep, various other venues and a plethora of festivals, what better place to indulge my love of performance and performers, and I have come to Scotland’s capital city not only as a reviewer but as a theatrical landlady.

As fabulous as this city is, there are of course times when I feel a little homesick and crave for the familiar, so I was delighted to discover that my first press outing to the King’s would be to see a production by The Classic Thriller Theatre Company, the successor to Bill Kenwright’s The Agatha Christie Theatre Company which, for the last 10 years, has mounted new productions at Windsor before going on tour.

It was like coming home seeing familiar faces such as Rula Lenska, Denis Lill and Ben Nealon, though I missed being able to chat with the lovely Roy Marsden who, as director, was always to be found around the theatre at Windsor.

Productions like these are not ground breakers but they are certainly crowd pleasers. Everyone likes a good mystery, and this play by ‘the king of the detective thriller’ Edgar Wallace, adapted by Antony Lampard, doesn’t disappoint on that score.

Julie Godfrey’s imposing stately home sets the scene for an evening of murder and mayhem as Lady Lebanon does everything in her power to continue her family’s lineage.

Rula Lenska is to the manner born as the lady of the house. In real life a member of the Polish nobility, she is a class act, elegant and aloof. In vast contrast, Ben Nealon fizzes with nervous energy as her spoilt son, while April Pearson as long lost relative Isla is a quivering jelly as a frightened lady - but is she the one in the title?

One murder down and Chief Supt Tanner from Scotland Yard makes an entrance, played by an authoritative Gray O’Brien, assisted by Charlie Clements as Sgt Totti, who doesn’t seem to know who he is at times. There’s a nice understated performance from Philip Lowrie as the butler, and Denis Lill always makes a huge impact, this time as a rather sinister, conniving family ‘friend’. He’s not the only menacing character. Footmen Gilder (Glenn Carter) and Brook (Callum Coates), in particular, are downright creepy, but we could do with some shadows for them to lurk in!

Writing of lighting, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between the scenes. There is a lack of atmosphere, which lighting designer Chris Davey could have created. Sudden claps of thunder, until nearing the end of the evening without any sound of rain, and disembodied screams, are also obviously for effect and are not believable, as are the scenes where the jodphered and booted Lord Lebanon walks through the house with a horse whip and a saddle to emphasise he has been out in the stables!

But this production is set in 1932 and is a period piece, somewhat stylised and melodramatic. And they say the old ones are the best!

The Case of the Frightened Lady is at The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until March 31. Booking

01315 296000

The tour then continues:

April 3-7: New Victoria Theatre, Woking 08448 717645

May 21-26: Milton Keynes Theatre 08448 717652

June 11-16: Belgrade Theatre, Coventry 024 7655 3055

June 18-23: Palace Theatre, Southend 01702 351135

July 2-8: Grand Theatre, Swansea 01792 475715

July 23-28: Grand Theatre, Leeds, 08448 482700

Jul 30-Aug 4: Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, 01284 769505

Oct 2-6: Theatre Royal, Glasgow 08448 717647

 

Feb 27th

The Play That Goes Wrong at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 

If there is a play in existence with a more apt title than “The Play That Goes Wrong”, I have yet to see it!  Mischief Theatre have crafted 100 minutes of mirth and mayhem that had me laughing until I hurt … and then I laughed some more!

This week, Glasgow’s King’s Theatre plays host to a play within a play as a fictional group of not-so-talented am-dramers  (the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society) present “The Murder At Haversham Manor” as the accurately titled “Play That Goes Wrong”.  And boy, does it go wrong!

Before curtain up we are treated to a performance of outstanding incompetence as the “stage crew” attempt to set the stage.  From the opening introduction by Director “Chris” (stiffly portrayed by Jake Curran) we are in no doubt that we are about to be “entertained” by a troupe bearing a remarkable heritage of disastrous am-dram flops. 

The curtain rises and we are entertained by shameless overacting from the players with outlandish and unconvincing characters and a broad disrespect of “the fourth wall”.  This is all delightfully OTT and delivered to wring maximum laughs from the outset.  But this would become tired quite quickly … if the writers did not have an endless supply of acting faux-pas and theatrical cock-ups waiting in the wings; each one more calamitous than the last!  Prop mix ups, prat falls, disintegrating sets, dropped lines, slapstick, badly timed entrances … every single one a disaster in its own right; enough to send any self-respecting amateur fleeing from the stage.  Yet, these are all presented in one show in all of their awkward, heart stopping, nightmare inducing glory.  And we laughed so hard!

Kazeem Tosin Amore (as Robert playing Thomas Collymoore) gives a great comic portrayal of the victim’s school chum with a particular highlight as he tries to break a dialog loop through purple faced rage and mouthfuls of ‘white spirit’.  Elena Valentine (as Sandra) gives a delightfully unconvincing performance as femme fatal Florence Collymoore and becomes the victim of some spectacular physical gaffs.  Bobby Hirston is the prat-fall king as Max (playing Cecil Haversham) and Benjamin McMahon is the youthful Dennis who is superbly miscast as the aging Perkins.  Catherine Dryden develops her character beautifully to hilarious effect as Annie (the somewhat reluctant crew member cum understudy).  Jake Curran was excellent (as Chris playing Inspector Carter), particularly as he broke down over the audience’s reaction to his response to a lost prop.  I’m laughing out loud as I type this … LEDGER!

Direction from Mark Bell expertly balanced the tight timing required for such a complex piece of physical theatre with just enough leeway for the actors to thoroughly enjoy the performance and give the audience a feeling that everything was fresh.  Nigel Hook’s set design was inspired; adding significantly to the laughs.  Despite all of the superlatives above, the script from Mischief Theatre’s own writing team of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields was truly the star of this outstanding show.

A special mention has to be made of the production programme.  It really is worth every penny is very funny in its own right.

If you fancy a really good, wholehearted belly-laugh (and who doesn’t need a laugh these days) get your tickets to this hilarious show now.

Photos by Robert Day

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Mon 26 Feb - Sat 3 Mar 2018

Mon-Sat 7.30pm

Wed & Sat, 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7 p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

 OR ... catch the show at Edinburgh's Fesival Theatre from 12-17 March 2018

Jan 17th

Tango Moderno, The Kings Theatre Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 

Vincent and Flavia (Simone and Cacace of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing fame) present a wonderfully diverse evening of entertainment at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre this week featuring their famous style of choreography.

 

Let’s face it … we’ve all been there, right?  We have a ‘significant other’ who is super excited to see a new show and we go along … doing the right thing to be there (reluctantly) while our loved one grins enthusiastically at the stage for a whole evening.  It has to be done!

 

But anyone arriving (reluctantly) to this latest production featuring Vincent and Flavia might be pleasantly surprised as this remarkably varied production has something to entertain even the most jaded of persuaded partners!

 

So, it’s basically an evening of dance.  That is a given.  And we should celebrate that dance element first and foremost.  Strictly fans will be delighted to see Vincent and Flavia deliver some lovely routines throughout the show including some steamy hot Argentine Tango choreography.  Most impressive to me was the powerful subtlety of the lifts – less “look at me” in a ‘Strictly’ style and more emotive and powerful; relying as much on Flavia’s core strength as that of Vincent. 

 

But the show adds so much more through the ensemble cast.  Each routine is presented as a short vignette – telling a short story of couples or groups.  Lovers, work colleagues, groups of friends, etc.  The stories are connected through a loose theme of couples coming together and there is a real sense of conclusion at the end of the show which is quite satisfying – not bad for a show with no dialogue! 

 

The vignettes are introduced and connected by a narrator (Tom Parsons) who speaks in cool contemporary prose.  There have been a spate of TV adverts in this style recently and for good reason … it is so on trend!  Tom also sings lead vocals on the majority of numbers – beautifully accompanying the dance activity and covering a broad range of modern artists from Ed Sheeran to Rag ‘n’ Bone Man to Lucus Graham and many more.  Tom is joined by Rebecca Lisweski on vocals.  Rebecca takes the lead from time to time, too, and together they deliver first class entertainment worth the ticket price alone.

 

The choreography from Karen Bruce is excellent throughout.  Each piece advances the story or theme and the variety is astounding covering the spectrum from hilarity to pathos.  The dancing cast deliver all of this with aplomb – in particular, their characterisation is evident with every step and leap.  The piece accompanied by Lucas Graham’s “7 Years” was astonishing and moving and left we wanting to pause and rewind to see it again.

 

I’ll confess that I was already looking forward to seeing this show …  but, having seen it, I’m bursting to tell people who might not normally buy a ticket to see a “dance show” to go and see this one!

 

Tango Moderno, King’s Theatre, 297 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4JN

Tue 16 - Sat 20 Jan 2018

Tue-Sat, 7.30pm

Thu & Sat matinees, 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

 

Dec 8th

Sleeping Beauty, The Kings Theatre Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 Review by Suzanne Lowe

It’s that time of year again (oh yes it is….) when children and adults flock to theatre’s around the country to see their favourite pantomime.  The Kings Theatre, Glasgow has always produced top quality productions featuring top quality stars and this year was no exception.

 

The audience were transported to the magical city of Glasweedgia and the delights of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.  This is the classic fairy tale of the beautiful Princess cursed by a spell as a baby, who falls into a deep sleep on the night of her 21st Birthday after a rather unfortunate incident with a spinning wheel.  You know the story….

 

The show opened with the usual colourful singing and dancing one would expect.  A stage filled with beautiful people dressed in very pastel shades belting out a rather forgettable opening number!

 

However the arrival on stage of Johnny Mac as ‘Muddles’ set the tone for the rest of the evening.  A veteran of pantomimes all over the country, this award winning comedian delivered the usual corny jokes with great enthusiasm endearing himself to the audience instantly.  His interaction and comedy timing made this the stand out performance of the night.

 

Making a welcome return to The King's Panto for the first time in 8 years was the hugely talented Elaine C. Smith.  Taking on the role of ‘Fairy Bella Houston’ saw her opening number announce her great return.  Perhaps this felt a little self-indulgent and unnecessary for someone with her acting repertoire.  However this was soon forgotten as we moved through the show.  Her usual comedic delivery had the audience laughing for the rest of the evening.  Perhaps her most memorable moment would be that of taking on the classic Adele Song “Hello” and of course re-naming it “Hey You” in her best Glaswegian accent.  She was a perfect match to her onstage son ‘Muddles’ and the two played off one another brilliantly.

 

Juliet Cadzow played the panto baddie this year taking on the role of ‘Carabosse’, the evil witch who placed the spell on poor Princess Beauty.  Perhaps best known for her roles in Balamory and River City she received the usual ‘Boo’s’ from the audience one would expect from the villain of the show.  Playing along-side her, was Paul-James Corrigan (also of River City fame) who took on the role of ‘Slimeball’.  As the son of ‘Carabosse’ the two worked well together giving the audience the roles they love to hate.

 

As a stalwart of Scottish theatre and television George Drennan played the part of ‘King Hector’ ably accompanied by Louise Ludgate as Queen Morag.  Their rendition alongside ‘Fairy Bella’ and ‘Muddles’ of the classic Scottish version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” had the audience crying with laughter.

 

Will Knights as ‘Prince Calum’ and Maggie Lynne as ‘Princess Beauty’ also delivered faultless performances as the romantic leads.  They brought a sense of calm to the chaotic proceedings going on around them.

 

Perhaps the stand out, jaw dropping moment of the evening has to go to the flying car!  Yes indeed while trying to get to Dunoon, ‘Fairy Bella’ and ‘Muddles’ decided not to take the conventional ferry but instead take to the skies in a sports car.  Having seen many things ‘fly’ over the years on The Kings stage this has to take the crown.  Not only did it lift up on stage it then ‘flew’ out over the audience above the stalls.  An amazing piece of theatre wizardry.

 

As panto’s go this has to be one of the funniest I have seen in a while.  Written by Alan McHugh the up to date topical references have to receive credit.

 

If you want a great night out then get yourself along to The Kings to watch ‘Sleeping Beauty’, you will not be disappointed.

 

(Images courtesy of Ambassadors Theatre Group) 

Sleeping Beauty The King's Theatre, Bath Street, Glasgow

Sat 2 Dec 2017 - Sun 7 Jan 2018

Tue-Sat at 7.00pm, Sun at 5.00pm

Matinees daily at 1pm, 2pm or 11am

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

Dec 7th

Mamma Mia! – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

The warmth of a Greek Summer will be keeping the Winter blues at bay at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal throughout December  as the ultimate feel-good musical, Mamma Mia!, takes up residency there throughout the Christmas period.

Mamma Mia! (in case you haven’t heard) is the wonderfully crafted musical woven around the hits of 70s and 80s pop sensations, Abba.  Sophie (delightfully characterised by Lucy May Barker) is a 20 year old girl about to marry the love of her life.  Her idyllic upbringing on a sun kissed Greek island seems to have only missed one thing – her father.  But, a quick look at her mother’s diary is all it takes to discover that the lucky man could be one of … 3 men.  So, she does the natural thing and invites all 3 to her wedding in the hope that her real father will step forward and walk her down the aisle – while keeping the plot a secret from her doting mother of course!

This was my fourth time in the audience for Mamma Mia! – and it NEVER gets old!!  It is an absolute joy from start to finish … and I think that this touring production may just have been my favourite so far.  It wasn’t “perfect” … the vocals were not the strongest I’ve heard from the principals … but this was more than made up for in quality characterisation and outright GUSTO!  And, anyway … Mamma Mia! is not a show to get too tied down in artsy critical detail over.  It's how it makes you feel that is important - and that is simply wonderful!

Lucy May Barker was wonderful as Sophie.  She immediately won the audience over with her “girl next door” charm and then set about wowing us with an energetic performance and some beautiful shared scenes with stage mum, Donna (played by Helen Hobson).  Ms Hobson led the ‘older’ generation cast in confident style; portraying extremes of fun and drama with solid believability.  Her combination of “Slipping Through My Fingers” as she describes her changing relationship with her growing daughter followed immediately in the second act by the showstopper “The Winner Takes It All” overpowered the audience with emotion.

Supporting performances were all of an incredibly high standard.  Jon Boydon, as Sam, impressed with vocals that left Pierce Brosnan in the dust.  Brilliant character performances from Emma Clifford, Gillian Hardie, Jamie Hogarth and Christopher Hollis had us all in stitches as they brought Catherine Johnson’s book to hilarious life.  I must also credit Louis Stockil who brought acrobatic skill to the role of Pepper along with pin sharp comic timing.  Energy and vocal harmonies from the ensemble cast were second to none.  The music was note perfect on the night (a must for such popular tunes) but I also noticed that the volume was tempered when underscoring important dialogue and this kept the audience fully engaged with the story – 10 out of 10 from me.

If you have seen Mamma Mia! before, my advice to you is to see it again – this month!  Saying you don’t like this show is like saying you don’t like Christmas!

 

Mamma Mia! Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA

Tue 5-Sat 30 Dec 2017

Mon-Sat, 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat matinees, 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

 

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

 

Oct 27th

Our Fathers at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

By Clare Brotherwood

 

Rob Drummond and Nicholas Bone need divine intervention!

Growing up as atheists in religious households has left them both in a quandary. Loving their fathers but unable to talk to them about their lack of faith has had them questioning all aspects of their lives, and particularly the relationship between fathers and sons.

It all began when Bone’s father, a bishop in the Church of England, referred him to a book by a preacher’s son who gradually lost his faith in God.

Now the two friends have got together to write and perform a play based on Father & Son by Victorian poet, writer and critic Edmund Gosse.

In Our Fathers, Drummond, whose dad is a Church of Scotland minister, and Bone re-enact Gosse’s story of his growing up in a strict Plymouth Brethren household.

But it is far from just an account of Gosse’s life. Both actors dip in and out of the story to interact about their own lives, often on a very personal level as they argue and debate, even to the point of Drummond leaving the stage on one occasion to leave Bone to ‘get on with it’.

It’s a little contrived but adds another level to this 75-minute performance which is not only thought-provoking but also at times highly entertaining as well as moving.

Drummond particularly connects with the audience, beginning before the play begins by asking members for the 10 Commandments so he can write them up on a chalk board. But both deliver as if talking to a group of friends.

Our Fathers is the first collaboration between the Traverse Theatre and Bone’s Magnetic North theatre company, and certainly gives its audience food for thought.

 

Our Fathers is at the Traverse Theatre until Oct 28.

www.traverse.co.uk

0131 228 1404

It then commences touring:

Nov 1-4: Tron Theatre Glasgow

Nov 8: Eden Court Inverness

Nov 9: The Barn Banchory

Nov 10: The Lemon Tree Aberdeen

Nov 11: The Beacon Arts Centre Greenock

Nov 15: Platform Glasgow

Nov 16-17: Byre Theatre St Andrews

 

Nov 18: Eastgate Theatre Peebles

 

Oct 5th

Sunset Boulevard at the Edinburgh Playhouse

By Clare Brotherwood

With all the glamour and melodrama of a bygone age, Sunset Boulevard played to impromptu cheers and a standing ovation from an ecstatic Edinburgh audience on opening night.

And in the centre of it all was Ria Jones, who memorably took over from Glenn Close in London’s West End production and has now made the role of tragic Norma Desmond all her own.

Every inch as charismatic as any big Hollywood star, this Welsh songstress movingly brings to life the faded silent screen actress who returns to Paramount Pictures, where she was once ‘queen of the lot’, with horrific consequences.

It’s a performance which holds me spellbound, from her first glamorous entrance down a sweeping staircase to her cackling descent into madness. It is something of a shock when Jones takes her curtain calls for she seems so young and small compared to the character she plays. In one of the scenes when someone says, ‘You used to be big’, Norma Desmond retorts, ‘I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.’ Well, what with her stage presence and soaring voice, everything around Ria Jones seems small by comparison. It’s not just with one look that this production is a triumph. But she is not alone in making it so.

When Adam Pearce, as Max, her stiff, expressionless butler, comes on the scene, he reminds me of Lurch in the Addams Family movie, but his singing voice is extraordinary; rich and deep for the most part but with such an incredible range it leaves me open-mouthed.

Sunset Boulevard is very much like an opera, with performances worthy of any opera house… though you don’t get many opera singers with the matinee idol looks of Danny Mac (who, incidentally, gets to demonstrate his Strictly Come Dancing skills) as the object of Norma Desmond’s desires.

Some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s numbers bring me in mind of The Phantom of the Opera – in fact, the stories aren’t that dissimilar. Both have damaged leading characters who haunt performances spaces – in Sunset Boulevard, Paramount Pictures’  Stage 18 is an interesting montage of vintage spotlights and cameras against a backdrop of old black and white movies, courtesy of Colin Richmond, who also designed the sumptuous costumes.

But there are some really upbeat numbers which shout ‘musical’, such as New Year Tango, and, of course, such well known songs as The Greatest Star of All and The Perfect Year. On my way home a young girl passed me in the street singing them…

Sunset Boulevard is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Oct 7.

www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh

 

Box office: 0844 871 3014