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May 9th

Wicked at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe
WICKED flew north of the border to entrance Glasgow audiences this week as this blockbuster musical takes up residence at the King’s Theatre for a 4 week Scottish Premier run.
Wicked Scottish Premier

 
BELIEVE THE HYPE! If you haven’t seen Wicked on stage, you will be mesmerised – if you have seen the show, you will want to see it again and again! Wicked, in case you haven’t heard, is the untold story of the witches of Oz. The question from the uninitiated is “how could there possibly be another side to a tale which we have all known to be the truth since early childhood”? It’s more than a prequel; it explains EVERYTHING!
 
I must confess to having been a little nervous about seeing this show after reading rave reviews from London for almost 8 years. We settled into our seats in the shadow of a giant smoking animatronic dragon with the highest possible expectations … only to have them promptly exceeded. This is an amazing show!
 
OK (deep breath) let’s do this one superlative at a time … Music first; you’ve heard some of the music, right? The big hits from Stephen Schwartz are popular (ahem) at concerts and on TV and Radio and the original cast recording has been a massive hit on Amazon for years (a worthy purchase even if you haven’t seen the show). The live music, under the direction of Dan Jackson, is every bit as fabulous as you might hope and the characters really bring the score to life on stage.
 
Direction from Joe Mantello (and Petra Siniawski in the UK) was crisp - giving the audience barely time to catch their breath or dab a tear before we moved smoothly into the next scene - yet allowed for character development throughout. The visual effects were spectacular without overwhelming the events onstage. Choreography from Wayne Cilento blended perfectly with the action giving us exciting partner work down at the Ozdust Ballroom and atmospheric character movement in the dramatic scenes.
 
Wicked - steampunk styling
 
Despite the blockbuster nature of this huge touring show, one of the most impressive aspects was the styling; with credit largely going to Eugene Lee, Susan Hilferty and Kenneth Posner being respectively responsible for Scenery, Costume and Lighting. There was a wonderfully cohesive steampunk style throughout with the Act 1 scenes at “Dear Old Shiz” integrating appealing Harry Potter overtones. This manifested itself in glorious costumes featuring tail coats, canes, sunglasses, bustles and the most beautifully outlandish hats. These were complemented by sympathetic lighting and a set adorned with fantastic clockwork machinery and 19th century props and vehicles – most appropriate for a story based on characters from a novel written in 1900.
 
Performances from Nikki Davis-Jones (Elphaba) and Emily Tierney (Glinda) were nothing short of awesome. Without any exaexaggeration -  awesome! Ms Davis-Jones gave us tears from the low tones of I’m Not That Girl all the way up to goosebumps at the dizzy heights of Defying Gravity. Meanwhile Ms Tierney had us in stiches during Popular yet we were welling up as she sang Thank Goodness. Both characters developed smoothly (almost imperceptibly) throughout the performance. Let’s face it, we were all asking “can they bring talent the equal of Menzel and Chenoweth all the way to Scotland?” – the answer is a resounding “YES”! Liam Doyal transformed Fiyero into a hero to the audience’s delight. The supporting characters were flawless, humorous, beautiful and grotesque just where we needed them to be.
 
With a wickedly modern sense of humour this show delivers a fiendishly clever plot and a spellbinding score in a perfectly styled steampunk package. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself floating 6 inches above your seat and return home to find your cat doing the crossword! I have a new favouri
te musical!

If you want to see this show in Glasgow, you’ll need to take a time machine back a few months as it is already SOLD OUT! Tickets are being snapped up quickly for dates in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Whatever you do, order your ticket today!
 
WICKED – Glasgow King’s Theatre
ALL PERFORMANCES ARE NOW SOLD OUT.  APPLY DAILY FOR RETURNS AND CANCELLATIONS.
IN PERSON: KING’S THEATRE BOX OFFICE - NO BOOKING FEE
TELEPHONE BOOKINGS: 0844 871 7648
BOOK ONLINE: www.atgtickets.com/Glasgow
 
Edinburgh Playhouse
Wednesday 19 November 2014 – Saturday 10 January 2015
TICKET PRICES
For Online and Telephone Bookings a £4 Transaction Fee per booking applies
Monday – Thursday: £52.50, £42.50, £32.50, £25, £20
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 28 Dec & w/c 29 Dec: £55, £47.50, £35.50, £27.50, £22.50
Premium seats available at all performances (£75 / £72.50)
Box Office (0844 871 3014)
 
His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
Tuesday 5 May 2015 – Saturday 30 May 2015
TICKET PRICES
Monday – Thursday: £53.50, £49.50, £44.50, £38.50, £26
Friday & Saturday: £56, £52, £47, £41, £28
Premium seats available at all performances (£73.50 / £76)
Box Office (01224 641 122)
May 2nd

A Wicked Sellout at the King's Theatre, Glasgow!

By Cameron Lowe

WICKED IS OFFICIALLY HIGHEST GROSSING SHOW IN HISTORY OF THE KING’S THEATRE

 
WICKED, the global musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is officially the highest grossing production in the history of the King’s Theatre Glasgow, with the largest ever number of tickets sold in a four week run. Over 53,000 tickets have been snapped up for the show’s sell-out Scottish premiere, which plays from 6 May until 31 May. The record-breaking national tour will also visit the Edinburgh Playhouse (19 November 2014-10 January 2015) and His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen (5-30 May 2015).

 

Wicked UK Tour

James Haworth
, General Manager at the King’s Theatre Glasgow, said: “I am extremely proud that the King’s is staging Wicked and bringing this global phenomenon to Scottish theatre fans for the first time. It’s no surprise the long running West End musical has cast its magical spell over Glasgow audiences, but its unrivalled success has surpassed all expectations.”

 

Wicked Executive Producer, Michael McCabe, said: "We are truly overwhelmed by the incredible response from Glasgow's theatregoers, who have ensured that our Scottish premiere engagement is a sell-out even before we arrive. Thank you to everyone who has enabled us to break Box Office records and for your generous embrace of Wicked.”

 

This thrillingly entertaining show” (Manchester Evening News) has broken countless Box Office records, won multiple five star reviews across the UK and Ireland and has already been seen by over 400,000 people.  

The award-winning London production continues its open-ended run at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, where tickets are currently on sale into its 9th year. The “hugely popular show” (The Times) is already the 15th longest-running musical in West End theatre history and recently celebrated its landmark 3000th performance.

 

Around the world, Wicked has already been seen by over 39 million people and has 9 productions running concurrently. The original Broadway production remains “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster” (The New York Times) after a decade at the Gershwin Theatre.

 

In a brilliantly witty re-imagining of the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two sorcery students. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

 

WICKED UK & IRELAND TOUR

SCOTTISH PREMIERE ENGAGEMENT: TUESDAY 6 MAY 2014 - SATURDAY 31 MAY 2014

King’s Theatre

297 Bath Street

Glasgow

G2 4JN

ALL PERFORMANCES ARE NOW SOLD OUT.  APPLY DAILY FOR RETURNS AND CANCELLATIONS.

IN PERSON: KING’S THEATRE BOX OFFICE - NO BOOKING FEE

TELEPHONE BOOKINGS: 0844 871 7648

BOOK ONLINE: www.atgtickets.com/Glasgow

Transaction fees apply online and by phone

 

EDINBURGH ENGAGEMENT: 19 November 2014 to 10 January 2015

Edinburgh Playhouse

Box Office: 0844 871 3014

www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh


ABERDEEN ENGAGEMENT
: 5 to 30 May 2015

His Majesty's Theatre

Box Office: 01224 641122

www.aberdeenperformingarts.com

Apr 30th

Let It Be at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Christopher Lowe

Following huge success in London’s West End, the hit Beatles show “Let It Be” has made its way to the Kings Theatre, Glasgow! (28th April – 3rd May).

Let it be

Let It Be is an exciting and inviting reminder of the magic and mystery that the Beatles created. This spectacular theatrical concert charts the band’s rise to stardom; beginning at Liverpool’s Cavern Club and progressing to their final legendary masterpieces.

The show is filled with over 40 of The Beatles greatest hits including: All You Need Is Love, Day Tripper, Drive My Car, A Hard Day’s Night, Hey Jude, Magical Mystery Tour, Twist and Shout, When I’m 64 and many more!!

Band Members James Fox, Michael Gagliano, Paul Mannion, Ben Cullingworth supported by Steve Geere are talented performers in every way imaginable. Their energy and enthusiasm are limitless and will pull you in from the very start.

A combination of lighting, costume, video, sound, set, and great performance create a production as powerful as a rock concert. Credit to everyone involved in the production and creation of this show as they capture the atmosphere and spirit of The Beatles and their historical journey.

Let It Be

With humorous transitions between songs and sets, and a powerful selection of ballads to entertain you, this show is not one to be missed! It will have you screaming for more!

Let It Be
28 April – 3 May 2014

King’s Theatre Glasgow

297 Bath St, Glasgow G2 4JN

www.atgtickets.com/venues/kings-theatre

0844 871 7648

Mar 11th

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!

The Play That Goes Wrong

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 Henry Shields who had more than a hint of John Cleese about his persona) 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, 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 and these are all presented in one show in all of their awkward, heart stopping, nightmare inducing glory.  And we laughed so hard!

Henry Lewis (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 unspoken purple faced rage.  Charlie Russell (as Sandra) gives a delightfully unconvincing performance as femme fatal Florence Collymoore and becomes the victim of some spectacular physical gaffs.  Dave Hearn is the prat-fall king as Max (playing Cecil Haversham) and Jonathan Sayer is the youthful Dennis who is superbly miscast as the aging Perkins.  Lotti Maddox develops her character beautifully to hilarious effect as Annie (the reluctant understudy).

Mischief Theatre accept a What's On Stage Award

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 spontaneous.  Nigel Hook’s set design was inspired; adding significantly to the laughs.  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.

Miss this at your peril!

Review by Cameron Lowe, for Sue

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

Mon 10 – Sat 15 March GLASGOW King's Theatre

Eves: 7.30pm; Mats: Wed & Sat 2.30pm                  

Box Office 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/Glasgow (bkg fee)
Feb 12th

The Fondest of Farewells!

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Mark Ridyard

Eat, Pray, Laugh - Barry Humphries

Barry Humphries arrives at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow with his worldwide “Eat, Pray, Laugh” tour, bringing with him a host of his well-known characters to produce a memorable and, at times, stomach-churning evening!

 

Sir Les Patterson - Eat, Pray, Laugh!

Fresh from a residency at the London Palladium, the first half of the show features Sir Les Patterson – the obscene, obese and offensive Aussie – trying to convince some television executives that he is the man to front a series of “Aussie-tucker” cookery shows. As he belches and farts his way through the foul-mouthed mayhem, he also succeeds in drenching the first row of the audience in spit as his cooking, rather predictably, doesn’t quite turn-out as appetising as he had hoped! Those in the audience who wanted to see Les at his outrageous best were not disappointed, as Humphries treated them to a whole host of sexist, racist and chauvinistic ramblings, plucking two reluctant audience members from their seats to assist with the cooking.

 

Gerard Patterson was the next character to arrive – Humphries newest creation turns-out to be Les’s brother and a catholic priest with an unhealthy attraction towards young children. In the short time that he is on stage, we are treated to a dramatic exorcism which leads to the appearance of Sandy Stone, now deceased, who brings some real pathos to the evening with stories of losing his 4-year-old-daughter and his wife’s breakdown. This shift in mood, from the slapstick of Les to the tragedies described, are a testament to the versatility of Humphries as a performer, and the range of characters he continues to bring to life more than 50 years since he first began performing.

 

Act Two opens with a TV-documentary-style retrospective of Dame Edna’s life, before the great lady herself enters the fray to thunderous applause from the captivated audience.  Wearing the most sparkly of dresses, and most outrageous of spectacles (of course), we are treated to what can only be described as “vintage Edna” as she prepares to bid goodbye to the world of showbusiness.

 

People sitting in the first few rows of the stalls visibly curled-up in their seats, fearful that Edna would single them out for a gentle ribbing (which, in most cases, isn’t gentle at all!), and the old girl doesn’t hesitate in working her way through, in her opinion, the more shabbily-dressed members of the audience. Two more audience members join Edna on the stage, providing her with even more opportunities for ribbing and “honest” feedback about themselves.

 

The show closes with a song and dance number, with the small cast of singers and dancers who have supported Humphries throughout the evening taking their deserved bow with the great man himself – who then returns, as himself, for a short and heart-felt monologue before disappearing into the darkness.

 

Dame Edna - Eat, Pray, Laugh!

For a man who turns 80 next week, Humphries’ performance belies his advancing age – a few lines are stumbled-over but, with almost two-and-a-half-hours of stage time, he can be forgiven for not being word-perfect. His energy, enthusiasm and genuine warmth for the appreciative Glasgow audience, combined with countless “laugh-out-loud” moments throughout the evening, are the most fitting way to bid a fond farewell to Humphries and his wonderful comedy creations.

 

 

Eat, Pray, Laugh! Barry Humphries’ Farewell Tour

Tues 11 – Sat 15 February

KINGS THEATRE, GLASGOW

Box Office: 0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/venues/kings-theatre

Jan 20th

West Side Story at King’s Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

West Side Story

As theatre fans we can find ourselves in the audience of a particular show more than once.  As a performer, I’ve been on stage in three separate productions of Oklahoma!  I have actually lost count of the number of times I have seen Oklahoma! from the stalls.  West Side Story may be one such show for you.  Perhaps you saw the last professional UK tour or you have caught an amateur production more recently?  But, no matter how many times you have seen West Side Story, I think this production will affect you in ways that no other production has.

West Side Story UK Tour

You see, after years ... decades (!!) of seeing this show as being driven by the Shakespearean drama and the immortal Bernstein score, I now realise these elements should always have been bound together by the dance.  Jerome Robbins’s choreography brings the music and the drama together to make the whole show a much more emotional experience and this company delivers that choreography so powerfully that I have changed my view of this classic show forever.

But look, I’m so emotional that I’ve skipped to the end of the review!  You know West Side Story, right?  Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is modernised and reset in late 1950s New York.  Tony (Louis Maskell) and Maria (Katie Hall) come from different sides of a racial divide.  Polish American and Peurto Rican gangs wage a race hate war on the streets while the star crossed lovers try to find a future on the battlefield.  The first act entertains and enthrals in equal measure with classic numbers like Maria, America and a rendition of the Tonight reprise from the company that was simply stunning.  From the moment the curtain is raised, though, the choreography and the dance skills of this company assert themselves.  It is clear that everyone has been ballet trained and every move from character driven expression to choreographed fight is delivered with precision and style.

West Side Story UK Tour

For me, it is only the second act of West Side Story that lets the audience down; just a little.  Most of my favourite numbers have already been performed ... and I’m not a huge fan of sad endings!  However, the exuberance of Maria in “I Feel Pretty” (unaware of the tragic events from the end of first act) is followed by a moving scene of revelation and this leads to what can only be lauded as a sublime ballet sequence.  Ballets in musicals rarely work for me.  This ballet, however, was a powerfully emotional rollercoaster of innocence and hope and energy and joy and tragedy and horror.  It was simply amazing to behold.  It elevated the drama to new heights and paved the way for the “A Boy Like That / I Have  love” duet where Maria convinces Anita (Djalenga Scott) that Tony is the love of her life and that their love transcends the hate that is part of their day to day lives – an incredibly emotional scene superbly delivered.

Louis Maskell as Tony did not seem to be a natural fit for the character but proved to be an excellent vocalist.  Katie Hall as Maria was, for me, just perfect.  With the looks and character of Natalie Wood and the voice of Dame Kiri Te Kanewa she won me over in seconds.  Djalenga Scott brought contrasts of tears and laughter as Anita with superb pathos and good comic delivery when opportunity arose.  Javier Cid and Jack Wilcox as Bernardo and Riff delivered convincingly as dancers, actors and singers.  The principals were ably supported by a very talented ensemble (one or two stray accents aside).

West Side Story - Tonight

From a production standpoint this was the most impressive West Side Story I have seen.  Stark angular 3 story buildings from Set Designer Paul Gallis were bathed in beautifully contrasting hues designed by Peter Halbsgut.  Lighting queues were delivered with incredible precision (and not by a computer) – this was particularly impressive in the Tonight reprise near the end of Act 1 – jaw droppingly smooth, in fact.  Stage Manager, Howard Williamson, should be very proud of his team.  Leonard Bernstein’s score was delivered characteristically by Musical Director Ben Van Tienen and his flawless 18 piece band.

If you think you know West Side Story, see this production ... and prepare to be even more amazed.

West Side Story

Wednesday 15 - Saturday 25 January 2014
Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm
Thurs, Wed (22 Jan) & Sat mats 2.30pm
Signed Performance – Tue 21 Jan, 7.30pm
Audio Described Performance – Wed 22 Jan, 7.30pm
Box Office 0844 871 7648 (Bkg fee)
www.atgtickets.com/glasgow (bkg fee)

Dec 14th

Aladdin at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Cameron Lowe

Aladdin at Glasgow King's Theatre

If you have ever doubted that magic exists, step inside Glasgow’s King’s Theatre in December.  It will take your breath away.  Children and adults alike are transported to a wonderful place where laughter comes as easily as breathing in and out.  This year, we are transported to the Far East as Aladdin takes to the stage in his home town of Peking.

Karen Dunbar once again leads the all-star cast as Mrs McConkey in this laugh-a-second ride to make believe.  Onstage there has been a terrible accident ... but, luckily, Mrs McConkey is able to stand in at the last minute to play the pivotal role of “The Slave of the Ring”. 

Karen has the audience in stitches from the off and we settle into our seats for a great night’s entertainment.  But the cast never let us get too comfortable as we are encouraged to shout and boo and sing and dance along with our favourite characters throughout.

Des Clarke really makes his mark this year as Wishee Washee.  With his likable character and high energy hi-jinks he gets the kids onside with ease.  He is also given some scope to deliver stand-up style one liners which had broad appeal.

Kieran Brown raises spirits ‘Higher and Higher’ as Aladdin with smooth tenor vocals and a sweetly genuine relationship with Princess Jasmine played by ‘Search for Dorothy’ finalist, Jenny Douglas.  The quality of this parnership’s harmonised vocals are worth the ticket price alone.

 

Aladdin

Gavin Mitchell gives the audience something to ‘boo’ at – and I’m completely complimentary there!  As baddie Abanazar he is “more evil than Simon Cowell and worse than the guys who sell PPI”.  Gordon Cooper is a cracking Widow Twankey.

Writer, Eric Potts, delivers a wonderfully funny script freely directed by Jimmy Chisholm with plenty of scope for the cast to have fun onstage.  The Twelve Days of Christmas number is simply hilarious.  Choreography from Joanne McShane is fast, exciting and delivered with style by a talented dance troupe.

Don’t miss your chance to join in with this wonderful family extravaganza before the run ends on Sunday 12th January 2014.

Aladdin
King’s Theatre, Glasgow
Until 12 January
Tickets £10.90 - £32.40

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/aladdin/kings-theatre/

Nov 27th

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - A Revalation!

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Mark Ridyard

“Bless your beautiful hide, wherever you may be
We ain’t met but I’m willing to bet
You’re the gal for me”.

 

Seven Brides - A revalation!

Every so often, a real gem of a show comes along that offers a truly unique take on old masterpiece – and this production of “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers”, from director and choreographer Patti Colombo, is one of these gems.

The show, based on the 1954 film of the same name, still has all its classic sing-along numbers, but both the staging and the orchestration of the show have undergone a creative renaissance. The result is a show high on energy and pace, with some poignant and touching moments that give the audience much more than a staple, feel-good evening.

The leading couple carry the show well, with Helena Blackman’s convincing portrayal of the resilient Milly contrasting fittingly with Sam Attwater’s chauvinistic Adam. In particular, Blackman’s strong vocal performances in numbers such as “Goin’ Courtin’” and “Glad That You Were Born” allow her to showcase the full range of her character’s emotions and proved popular with the Glasgow audience.

The supporting cast reveal their talents!

The success of any show can often be gauged by the strength of the supporting characters. In the case of “Seven Brides”, there is an extremely talented cast who make-up the rest of Adam’s family and the Townsfolk. The alphabetically-named Brothers, from Benjamin through to Gideon, all have unique characters of their own which result in snappy dialogue and sturdy singing. The Brides prove to be equally as talented, treating us to a range of dance-steps, from hoe-downs to ballet, as well as a harmonious blend of strong voices.

In addition to its gifted performers, it’s the staging of the show which gives it a unique and fresh style, refuting any suggestion that, at more than 30 years of age, “Seven Brides” might have become stale or tired. Interior and exterior sets are struck seamlessly by both cast and “invisible” stage crew with virtually no gaps between scenes, giving the show a pacey, but never rushed, feel. On top of all this, several of the Townsfolk also play instruments on stage, ranging from violins to ukulele, and this give the music a more authentic feel.

One of the many highlights is the “Social Dance” towards the end of Act One, where The Brothers and The Suitors compete for the attention of The (yet to be) Brides. The energy, technique and humour of the number sets it apart as one of the most enjoyable dances to grace the stage at The Kings for many years, with the audience showing its appreciation with thunderous applause.

The Social Dance

The only disappointing aspect of Tuesday evening was the relatively modest audience numbers which, given the high quality of what was on display, deserved to be much higher.

So, even if you know the film or show, you must find time this week to get yourself along to The Kings and discover something truly unique and original in this production.

SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS
Monday 25th - Saturday 30th November            
Mon eve 7.45pm
Tue – Sat eves 7.30pm
Wed & Sat mats 2.30pm
Tickets: £10 - £29.50
0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

Nov 27th

September in the Rain at Theatre Royal, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

Review by Cameron Lowe

September in the Rain

September in the Rain by Olivier Award winning writer, John Godber, is a gentle nostalgic situation comedy which is nicely performed by the talented headline cast.

Claire Sweeney and John Thomson seem to take the demands of this character driven two-hander in their stride and deliver a very pleasing performance.

We meet Liz and Jack, a ‘happily’ married elderly couple on their annual holiday to Blackpool.  Their story is told through flashback as their trips to Blackpool over the years reveal the highs and lows as well as the strains on their long relationship.

The flashbacks reveal, for me, a window into an earlier time.  Jack’s behaviour in his younger incarnation, in particular, reflects the morals and behavioural norms of a bygone era and these seem like worlds away from those of today. 

Jack seems like a decent, hardworking sort who looks after his family through tough times.  But, he often delivers verbal abuse in public as well as behind closed doors and is openly aggressive towards his wife and others.  This is quite shocking today while relatively commonplace in days gone by.

Liz seems to take most of this in her stride and even seems to enjoy their frequent arguments … perhaps better than not talking at all.

Liz and Jack (Claire Sweeney and John Thomson)

The situation lends itself to plenty of observational comedy on the topics of marriage, family and travel.  Much of the dialogue is light hearted banter and pokes fun at the battle of the sexes.

On the production side the set by Pip Leckenby is static and simple being on Blackpool’s promenade.  Lighting designed by Matt Eagland is similarly straight forward but very effective in conveying the rapidly changing weather patterns of the British seaside holiday.  Some flashbacks are highlighted in special light boxes with most props simply mimed.  All this proves to be surprisingly effective with the quality performances on stage.

Claire Sweeney and John Thomson are completely convincing as Liz and Jack (plus various ancillary characters in flashback).  They are able to gain or lose 50 years through physicality and voice control as simply as you or I could don a coat and hat.  Both actors make the most of the gently amusing material bringing the characters to life and winning empathy and understanding from the audience from the first scene.

September in the Rain is well worth the ticket price, particularly for nostalgia fans or any budding actors eager to learn a lesson or two!

SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Monday 25 - Saturday 30 November            

Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets: £10 - £25

0844 871 7648 (bkg fee)

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow
Nov 21st

Shang - A - Lang at The King's Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe
Review by Sean Stirling

Shang A Lang

From the pen of the Catherine Johnson, the woman who sewed the plot round Abba's back catalogue of songs to create the international hit 'Mamma Mia', comes Shang-A-Lang presented here by Rapture Theatre. Based in Scotland this theatre company sets out to produce plays that would not normally venture north of the border. 

The play’s title comes from the 1974 hit single by glam rock sensations the Bay City Rollers; the One Direction of their day. The original production opened in London in 1998 and Rapture have been allowed to doctor the script slightly to include local accents and references. To be honest I can't imagine it being done any other way as it brings the play back to the “Rollers” place of origin.
 
Like Mamma Mia, the play centres round 3 women who have been friends since high school and are about to hit the big 4 0. First of all, there is Pauline (played by Lyn McAndrew), the sad single girl who nothing goes right for and who likes to remind everyone just how pathetic her life is. Then there is Jackie (Val Gogan) who is "happily" married and living in her husband's shadow. And finally we have Lauren (Julie Duncanson) the drunk, loud-mouthed, self-confessed slapper.
 
The three have arrived at Butlin's holiday camp for a 70's revival weekend where the girls plan to see their teenage idol’s; the Bay City Rollers. As the weekend unfolds the girls reminisce about the old days and come to the realisation that while some things have changed, there are some things that never change and, like the teenage girls they were in school, they long for each other’s lives.
 
All three actresses convincingly brought their characters to life and it seemed that a number of audience members could empathize with their predicaments.
 
Support comes from Stewart Porter as Vince and Iain Robertson as Carl, both members of a 70’s tribute band and who aim to make themselves fully available to women attending the revival, an idea they are soon to regret upon an encounter with Pauline, Jackie and Lauren. 
 
There are some very funny moments in the play but also some very strong language and full frontal nudity, so is not for the easily offended.
A soundtrack of 70’s hits are used throughout the play, mainly as interludes to change the simple but effective set. Occasionally these interludes verge on being slightly too long, perhaps this would be more entertaining if performed by a live tribute band, similar to the way live music is used in ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’. The rousing finale did bring the audience to their feet and they were happy to sing and dance along while waving their tartan Roller scarves.
 
The direction of Michael Emans is slick and serves he piece well. I particularly enjoyed the scene set in two different locations but staged in the same space creating an interesting overlapping juxtaposition for the play’s main characters. Choreographer Natasha Gilmore has created routines that truly encapsulate the era of bell bottom trousers and platform heels.
 
Shang A Lang
Kings Theatre, Glasgow
19 - 23 November 2013
Tickets £12.40 - £32.90
Order Tickets Online