Tag Archives: Chris Davey

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Despite 15 years passing since its premiere, Matthew Bourne’s boundary pushing The Car Man is still managing to captivate, enthrall and excite audiences around the globe.

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Taking as its inspiration James M. Cain’s classic novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, and set to Rodion Shchedrin’s Bolshoi Ballet version of George Bizet’s Carmen (with additional music composed by Terry Davies) The Car Man is renowned for its no holds barred portrayal of sex, violence and homoeroticism and I’m glad to report, it has lost none of its power down the years.

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It’s the early 60’s in small town Harmony, opportunistic drifter Luca (Tim Hodges) rolls into town and changes the lives of everyone he meets. First seducing Lana (Ashley Shaw) the local garage owner’s young wife, then the timid and much picked upon Angelo (Liam Mower), he incites and inspires lust and jealousy in equal measure eventually resulting in murder, miscarriage of justice and finally revenge.

car man tour matthew bourneThe sweltering heat of the setting, story line and the sensual movement pervades the auditorium. If this doesn’t leave you hot under the collar then I’m not sure what would. There is full-frontal male nudity and frank portrayals of sex throughout but it is oh so skilfully done, never gratuitous and at all times essential to the plot.

the car man matthe bourneThe pacing as well as the footwork is perfect, the story line is driven along at a blinding pace and the choreography captivating and impeccably executed throughout. It is a visual feast scenically as well as choreographically, Lez Brotherston’s inventive transforming set and its complementary lighting from Chris Davey are wonderfully evocative.

The Car Man remains a sizzling hot sensation which still excites. Matthew Bourne really can do no wrong.

REVIEW: High Society – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

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Wealthy socialite Tracy Lord is in the midst of planning her lavish summer wedding to dull but reliable George Kittredge, when ex-husband, C. Dexter-Haven turns up to disrupt the proceedings in an attempt to win her back.

Meanwhile the notorious Spy magazine, in possession of embarrassing information about Tracy’s father, sends reporter Mike Connor and photographer Liz Imbrie to cover the nuptials. Tracy begins an elaborate charade as a means of revenge on the pair, pretending that her Uncle Willy is her father Seth Lord and vice-versa. To complicate matters Connor falls in love with Tracy. Amid the farce she must choose between three very different men. As the day of the wedding draws nearer we’re left guessing which groom the bride will eventually choose.

There are few musicals that are as beloved as High Society, starting life in 1939 with Philip Barry’s play The Philadelphia Story, then coupled with the classic songs of Cole Porter for the 1956 MGM musical, even the hardest of hearts can’t fail to enjoy this tale of true love.

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This production oozes class from start to finish, reminiscent not only of a time and way of life gone by, but also a style of musical from another era. That said, with both Singin’ in the Rain and Top Hat riding high in the West End, the public’s appetite for golden era shows is at a peak, and indeed the packed house at this performance is testament to that.

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The cast, principals and ensemble alike, carry the show with refinement and skill. Michael Praed ( C. Dexter Haven) and Sophie Bould (Tracy Lord) both turn in highly polished, delicately refined performances: deftly handling the glorious songs of Cole Porter as well as the moments of drama and comedy.

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In support Teddy Kempner as roguish Uncle Willie raises the biggest laughs and little sister Dinah (Katie Lee) is the 12 year-old voice of reason in the piece.

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As reporters Mike Connor and Liz Imbrie, Daniel Boys and Alex Young provide a healthy disregard for the ways of these high society folk, the highlight of Boys’ performance being his delivery of the classic You’re Sensational. However, Young’s tendency to resort to comic voices in almost every line she delivers only serves to garble much of what she says and grates as the show goes on.

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Special mention must go to the ensemble who are particularly slick here: executing the intricate and period-perfect choreography of award-winning Andrew Wright flawlessly. The set design by Francis Connor and the beautiful lighting by the talented Chris Davey are also particularly effective.

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This is pure escapism, go along and allow this show to take you on a beautifully performed, picture perfect journey to a world of glamour and style.

High Society comes to Glasgow from 30th April to 4th May – tickets and information here 

All production photographs copyright Pamela Raith 2013 – http://pamelaraith.com/ 

REVIEW: Takin’ Over the Asylum – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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Credit – Tim Morozzo

This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews

Writer: Donna Franceschild

Director: Mark Thomson

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★½

A play that has at its heart the issue of mental health wouldn’t seem like a likely choice for an evening’s entertainment, but Donna Franceschild’s stage adaptation of her acclaimed 1994 BBC TV series Takin’ Over the Asylum doesn’t just entertain; this tightly written and sharply crafted play is funny, heart-breaking and genuinely inspiring in equal measure.

Through the course of the narrative, the subtle cruelties of those charged with “caring” for the patients is shown and each character reveals the true nature of their illness and the heart-rending reasons for it. This roller-coaster ride of a play puts its audience through the emotional wringer: bringing laughter in one breath and tears the next, and all only possible through the combination of a taught script and some of the most affecting acting performances you are likely to see.

The sheer range and depth of emotion that Iain Robertson in the pivotal role of Eddie manages to convey is stunningly impressive: turning on a knife edge between despair, heart-break and happiness and doing it all with an utterly compellingly believability is testament to his phenomenal talent. That in the mercurial role of Campbell, (Brian Vernel) is an actor who doesn’t graduate from his training for another year almost beggars belief. They are ably supported by Helen Mallon as the vulnerable Francine, Caroline Paterson as germ-obsessed Rosalie and Grant O’Rourke as the tragic Fergus.

It could be argued that this is a less than convincing portrayal of mental health care in 2013, but the issues raised and attitudes highlighted have changed depressingly little since its source material was broadcast nearly twenty years ago. Ultimately though, this is a celebration of the truly good-hearted and an illustration of the fine line between sanity and so-called “madness”.

Often thought-provoking, occasionally tragic and always compelling, this production isn’t flawless but it’s as damn near close as you’ll get – unmissable.

Runs until: 9 March