Tag Archives: CCA

REVIEW: Star Stricken Double Bill – CCA, Glasgow

Presented as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Star Stricken a double bill of new comedy writing by Karen Barclay and Tom Brogan is certainly a bill of contrasts.

First up, Emily Entwistle by Karen Barclay pitches us headlong into the world of big business: a crisis has happened in an unnamed factory and corporate business solutions expert Elfrida (Frankie McEachen) is sent to sort the damage, with of course, less than successful results.

Heavy on the corporate speak (which considering the audience reaction was not a world we are as familiar with as the writer) and light on storyline and laughs, Barclay’s piece lacked cohesion and smacked a little of self-indulgence from the choice of heroines the play takes its name from to the I’m clever than you attitude which the writer seemed keen to demonstrate throughout. What did shine through was the talent of the actors, in particular Johanna Harper as Margo who deftly handled the machine-gun delivery of the complex dialogue, managing to raise what laughs there were to be had.

In contrast Tom Brogan‘s Good Times Never Seemed So Good is a sparkling little gem of a relationship tale set against the backdrop of the tribute act circuit.

Long-time loser with a big heart Mark (Paul Kozinski) has tried his hand at every daft scheme he can think of to make a living and girlfriend Laura is getting heartily sick of it: so she issues an ultimatum to pick something and stick with it, that something turns out to be a Neil Diamond tribute act. Despite no resemblance to the man in question and certainly filling the costumes slightly differently to Mr.Diamond, Mark soldiers on, climbing the ladder of success one slippery rung at a time. Just when he thinks it’s going to happen the ever-elusive big break remains out of reach. But what price fame? Is it worth losing the love of his life for?

Choc-full of laughs from start to finish this is a heart-warming little charmer. The references spot on the mark, completely relatable and met with roars of approval from the packed audience.

Ripe for TV adaptation hopefully it will have a life beyond the Comedy Festival and Brogan is certainly a name to watch for in the comedy writing world. A wee Scottish comedy gem.


REVIEW: Cryptic presents The Embassy – CCA, Glasgow


Conceived by Josh Armstrong, Cryptic’s new cross-art form experience invites audiences to indulge their senses and spend the night on foreign soil. The Embassy is a simulation of an envisioned future, through the lens of the Embassy of New Great Britain. The evening’s entertainment includes the performance of New Great Britain’s quintessential tribute, Requiem for a World – commissioned music from composer David Donaldson, scored for counter-tenor Steve Dugardin and Astrid String Quartet.

The aim of The Embassy is to fuse performance, live music, food and drink, offering its audience an immersive experience. It is, as it is no doubt intended to be, difficult to categorise. However there seem to have been a preponderance of interactive theatrical experiences recently and we are now at the point where one has to look much harder for the original rather than the derivative.

In design and execution The Embassy is much like an episode of Dr. Who but with none of the whimsical charm. There is much in the idea but it just doesn’t succeed in the execution. The evening doesn’t fuse together as a cohesive whole: the design and idea, rather than being futuristic just seemed dated and lacking in focus. The rather unrehearsed looking dancers lacked a stylistic vision and the “meal” of molecular gastronomy bits and bobs was lacking in taste and variety. On a positive note, the inventive drinks menu including pheromone cocktails was heartily embraced by the “guests”. The undoubted standout highlight of the evening though,  is the music by David Donaldson, sung by the astonishingly talented Steve Dugardin  and played by the Astrid String Quartet. Its stunning inventiveness and melodic beauty was mood altering.  There were tantalising glimpses of what the evening could have been – a clearer artistic vision and stronger direction could have made this much more than it was.