Friday, December 29, 2006

Now Booking / Coming Soon - Early 2007

As we approach the New Year it becomes time to start booking for shows in 2007, so we started today by booking up for a number of shows at the Citizens' and we'll add a few others over the next week or so once we've identified shows to see. So here's what you can expect to see reviews of in the new year... (All shows at the Citizens unless noted)

The Crucible
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
My Bloody Valentine
The Little World of Don Camillo

The Recovery Position (NTS Young Company at Platform, Easterhouse)
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice
Ice Cream Dreams
Aalst (NTS at the Tramway, Glasgow)
When A Star Falls (SYT at SYT Building)

Futurology: A Global Revue (NTS at the SECC, Glasgow)
Black Watch (NTS at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow & touring)

The Tempest
We Will Rock You (STF at Rothes Hall, Glenrothes)

His Dark Materials (Scottish Youth Theatre - venue tbc)

All good stuff but I'm particularly looking forward to a few of them -
"The Crucible" as I've never seen it, and love "Death of a Salesman"
"Re:Union" about unions between nations as I like a bit of political theatre
"Ice Cream Dreams" as I found out today it requires a stage extension covering the first 5 rows of the stalls and they can only use the front row of the Circle, so book now if it interests you as tickets will be very limited.

We missed out on seeing "Black Watch" at the Edinburgh Festival last year so we're delighted that we'll get a chance to catch it on tour this year, and although Musicals aren't really my thing I'm looking forward to "We Will Rock You" as it is being put together by the great folks over at the Scottish Theatre Forum.

We'll continue to update this post as we make plans to see shows, and where possible we've tried to book for the beginning of runs so that reviews will be available in time for you to still book for shows with longer runs. Please note that tickets are not yet on sale for some of these shows.

As you can see it's quite an intense start to the year and we hope to continue to bring our thoughts and reviews of all the best Scottish Theatre has to offer.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

"The Canterville Ghost" - December 2006

Despite the cold, and it was very very cold inside Rosslyn Chapel, this was a heartwarming production based on the Oscar Wilde story. The cast of five and the production crew have put together a wonderful seasonal tale as an alternative to Panto. We'd seen Nonsenseroom's excellent version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the chapel as part of the Edinburgh Festival and enjoyed it so much we immediately decided we had to make the trip back through for their Christmas show, and it was well worth the journey.

The production makes good use of the chapel's theatre-in-the-round format and the cast ensure they play to all sections of the audience. Sound effects are well put together to create any additional atmosphere required, although the chapel provides plenty of its own.

The story has been well adapted and includes some up to date references for an additional touch of humour - the Haka is inspired! The cast do a great job and Vic and her father held their accents well throughout and the cast didn't seem affected by the cold despite not having the benefit of the blankets and thick fleeces that the audience all came equipped with - these guys are prepared to suffer for their art.

Not sure how many people were surprised by the final sting in the tail/tale as it had been fairly well signposted, but once you clicked to it you realised how well the scenes had been put together and performed.

Already looking forward to see what they are going to come up with for 2007.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Review of 2006

Okay, so there's still a couple of weeks left of 2006, and we've still to see "The Canterville Ghost" next weekend, but as we've already had the BBC Sports Personality of the Year last weekend I think now is probably a good time to do a round-up of the highlights of 2006 - and I promise I'll remember to include "The Canterville Ghost" in next year's Review...

No fixed categories to work through - just making it up as I go along and remember some of the things I've enjoyed the past 12 months - and there have been so so many.

Favourite Newly Created/Devised Performance
It would have been easy have go for the NTS/Grid Iron production of "Roam" with its thought provoking themes and incredible staging at Edinburgh Airport, and I do count myself as genuinely fortunate to have caught this experience, but it has already had plenty of recognition this year with numerous awards and I think there was another show this year that was equally worthy. TheatreFusion's "Whitechapel Murders" focused on the victims of "Jack the Ripper" and the policeman who tried to catch him. Its stated aim to make the audience aware of their backgrounds and their stories was completely achieved and it managed to maintain a lighter tone at times while remaining totally appropriate given the subject matter. Great writing, great performances and a brilliant setting at Glasgow's Brittania Panoptican.

Favourite Performance of an Existing Work/Adaptation
Nonsenseroom's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was outstanding but on looking back at the year I think Cumbernauld Senior Youth Theatre's "The Princess Bride" edges it - brilliantly adapted from a much loved original work that would have been so easy to do badly. Very clever portrayal of the story's big set pieces, creative use of dialogue/narration and great central performances.

Favourite Edinburgh Festival Show
We didn't see a bad show but the best was "A Midsummer Night's Dream" but "The Receipt" ran it close with its hugely entertaining interaction between the performers.

Favourite Male Performance
Interestingly both of the performances that come to mind are from separate shows by Rapture Theatre, Jimmy Chisholm as the broken Lawson in "The Collection" and John Kazek as Ralph in "Frozen". Hats off also to the guys from Theatre Modo's "Don Quixote" who must have really done themselves some damage the way they threw themselves around the stage.

Favourite Female Performance
Natalie Bennett as Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" made a great show an incredible one, differentiating clearly between her two roles and displaying brilliant comic timing and facial expressions.
Other notable performances were Melissa Deans playing Inigo in "The Princess Bride" and Siobhan Redmond whose stage presence as Elizabeth in "Mary Stuart" was immense.

Favourite Youth Theatre Show
Already mentioned, Cumbernauld Senior Youth Theatre's "The Princess Bride" runs away with this one, but the SYT's "Arabian Nights" and Citizens Youth Theatre's "Geeks, Greeks and Party Myths" were also hugely enjoyable.

If 2007 can be half as good as 2006 has been I can't wait...


Saturday, December 09, 2006

“Frozen” - December 2006

This emotional tale of a mother whose child has been abducted and her child’s abductor was never going to be an enjoyable experience and it was every bit as uncomfortable and painful as expected - but in a good way.

The subject matter isn’t the kind of thing I would usually go for, but having seen Rapture Theatre’s previous productions of “Damages” and “The Collection” in recent years we knew the quality would be pretty much guaranteed. “Frozen” centres around three characters - the fraught mother, the abductor and a psychiatrist studying the criminal mind. The characters of Nancy (the mother) and Ralph (the abductor) are given real depth by the actors and the moment when they finally come face to face is spine-tingling. The first half of the play is almost entirely a series of monologues and at times it can be heavy going but it’s due to the intensity of the subject and the performances rather than a problem with the dialogue, but I really could have done with the interval being 20 minutes earlier than it was. It may be okay in a main theatre setting but in the Citizens Circle Studio my back was telling me it was time for the break long before it was. Indeed the play as a whole was possibly slightly overlong and for me the subplot of the psychiatrist’s backstory could have been jettisoned without damaging the focus of the play. My only other real criticism was that the writing of the paedophile was pretty simplistic, “by the numbers” and comformed to type, and with a lesser performance this could be a major problem.

The set does an excellent job of creating the required atmosphere but was really a bit on the bright side - and combined with the intensity of the show I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who left with a bit of a headache coming on.

One last thing - it's not like me to want to include a content warning (although Rapture themselves say it's for "audiences over 14 years old and for those not easily offended") but the language here is at times thoroughly unpleasant - not just the content but the offensive manner in which it is delivered. Not a bad thing in my book as it's completely in context, but some may find it more than they are happy to take (and not just those who are "easily" offended).

Overall this was a great show which was clearly well received by the sell-out audience, and you can be sure we’ll be back to see Rapture’s staging of “The Glass House” next year - which also sees them move to the main theatre in the Citizens for the first time.