Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"The Winter's Tale" - May 2007

Neither of us are huge Shakespeare fans but we'd been meaning to catch a performance by RSAMD students for some time and were given a nudge by Bluedog in our Pay Less See More post, so off we trotted to see "The Winter's Tale" at The Arches in Glasgow.

Concerned I might have difficulty with the dialogue I hit the internet in advance for a brief summary of the characters/plot to give me a helping hand and while doing so I repeatedly saw the play described as one of Shakespeare's "problem" plays in that it swings unevenly from a serious drama to a comedy never fully meshing the aspects.

One of The Arches more cavernous spaces was our venue with a fairly plain staging with minimal props and an audience on three sides. We're quickly introduced to three of our leads with the insecure King Leontes (Andy Root) fretting over the perceived affair between his wife Hermione (Roisin Gallagher) and his friend King Polixenes (Alan Burgon). Root is initially a little on the loud side for the venue when working up a bluster producing unwanted echoes but tones this down as the play progresses. Burgon gives a measured performance pitched well for the venue and shows genuine bewilderment at the situation he finds himself in, while Gallacher had obvious stage presence from the outset.

Fergus Johnston as Antigonus and Alan Lindsay as Camillo give depth to their roles but it's Jenny Hulse as Pauline who really commands the attention both of the characters and audience with a female character who is so strong throughout it's difficult to believe it's Shakespeare.

The interval sees changes of character and set with 16 years having passed and also with a huge swing in tone to the comedic. The new "outdoors" set is inspired and while there must have been a temptation to temper the comedic elements the production chose to play them up instead with brilliant results. Michael Goldsmith's Jim Carrey -esque Autolychus works well, and the song and dance number (yes you did read that right) had the whole audience grinning. Edward Corrie was particularly convincing as the Old Shepherd, while the conclusion once more gives Hulse a chance to shine which she grabs firmly with two hands and plays it perfectly with a conspiratorial nod to the audience.

The rest of the cast performed well in supporting roles and with good use of costumes, lighting and music, my only complaint about the production is that at times it didn't consider the audience at the sides of the stage. Given a bit more thought there could have been a few less backs to the audience, although Gallacher, Burgon, Hulse and Goldsmith did make repeated efforts to engage the audience on all sides.

An enjoyable evening with a cast obviously comfortable with both the psychological and humourous elements and it certainly won't be the last time we see an RSAMD show.

As an added bonus we also got to see some of the "Micro Shakespeare" youth productions before the show as part of the "Shakespeare in the City" programme. With four "installations" some were more obvious than others but the "I want to be..." segment was particularly amusing with the cast definitely playing to their audience.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

We interrupt our scheduled intermission...

...for a short post about some e-mail problems and the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland shortlists.

First a bit of housekeeping - we appear to have had some e-mail issues recently where some mails sent to the address have not reached us. It seems to have affected some e-mails but not others but should now be fixed. We do respond to all e-mails, so if you contacted us but haven't heard back please accept our apologies, resend your e-mail, and we will get back to you.

Secondly, congratulations to all those who have been shortlisted for the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland. This includes a number of productions we managed to catch and review, headed unsurprisingly by a number of nominations for "Black Watch" but also including "Yellow Moon", "Aalst" and Gerda Stevenson's performance in "Frozen".

We now return to our scheduled intermission...


Saturday, May 05, 2007

There will now be a short intermission...

We're having a little interval in our theatregoing for May but we'll be back at the start of June with reviews of the Northern Broadsides production of "The Tempest", the NTS production of "The Wonderful World of Dissocia", STF's "We Will Rock You" at Rothes Hall and we're still hoping to fit in Rapture's production of Arthur Miller's "Broken Glass". By mid June we should also have a fair idea of our plans for the Edinburgh Festival.

Have a good May, and we'll be back in June