Tag Archives: David Greig

REVIEW: Glasgow Girls – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 09.20.19First published at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/glasgow-girls-citizens-theatre-glasgow/

Writer: David Greig

Composers: Cora Bissett, The Kielty Brothers, Patricia Panther & MC Soom T

Director: Cora Bissett

Glasgow 2005, and the city and its high rise blocks have become home to a diverse range of asylum seekers. Drumchapel High School has become the focus for the children of these asylum seekers, but it’s a world where night-time raids happen with alarming frequency and children arrive at school every day to find out whether another classmate has disappeared, never to be seen again.

Glasgow Girls explores the true story of seven teenage girls for whom the situation has become personal. Together with their neighbours and one inspiring teacher, the girls embark on a campaign to secure the return of their friend  Kosovan Roma Agnesa Murselaj, forcibly removed and detained after a nigh-time raid, and fight to change the UK Government’s policy on the detention of children of asylum seekers.

Returning triumphant to its spiritual home at the Citizens Theatre, two years after it’s debut, Glasgow Girlscouldn’t be more relevant in the year Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games and undertakes an historic vote in the Independence Referendum. It highlights the spirit of the Glaswegian people, their reaction to injustice and Glasgow’s protectiveness of those who choose to call the city home.

From dawn raids, deportation and detention, there is humour, hope and heart in this powerful, poignant, profound but utterly joyous and truly emotive piece of theatre. The subject matter is hard hitting for a musical and to its credit the book written by David Grieg, who’s last high profile work Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, continues to run in the West End, hasn’t shied away from portraying the less positive aspects of both the campaign and life in Glasgow, resisting both the urge to sugar coat the subject matter and descend into mawkish sentimentality. It also highlights the impotency of the Holyrood Government in the face of opposition from Westminster (it’s also the most eloquent advert for the YES campaign you’ll see or hear this year). Instead this is a bold, brave, blistering, beautiful joy to behold. The story is told with trademark Glaswegian humour which takes no prisoners and is consistently laugh out loud funny.

The music is as diverse as the girls it represents, there are modern musical theatre numbers with a Scottish twist by The Kielty Brothers and director/composer Cora Bissett, rap and urban tunes by Patricia Panther and MC Soom T. The spare but atmospheric set by Merle Hensel also compliments the story well: conjuring up the grey concrete of Glasgow’s high rise blocks perfectly.

The whole endeavour though, would not succeed as it does without the truly sensational cast. Each and every one is deserving of praise but special mention must go to the ‘grown ups’ Callum Cuthbertson as Mr. Girvan and Scottish theatrical legend Myra McFadyen as Noreen, both deliver perfectly judged performances: in turn, poignant, stirring, compelling and utterly hysterical.

Glasgow Girls has a sharp intelligent edge and is a perfect reflection of the big heart and community spirit of the city of its title, of female solidarity and of what we can all achieve if we put our hearts and minds together. Genuinely moving and inspiring. Utterly unmissable.

Runs until 8 March 2014

Photographic credit: Drew Farrell

REVIEW: Dunsinane – Theatre Royal,Glasgow

dunsinane april 13

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

Dunsinane – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Writer: David Greig

Director: Roxana Silbert

“What happens after the dictator falls?” That is the question Scottish playwright David Greig answers in his masterful work Dunsinane.

The English army, led by General Siward, are occupying Scotland: they have killed Macbeth and captured the castle at Dunsinane and are just about managing to maintain the uneasy peace. But unlike Shakespeare’s tale, this time the Lady is not dead. She is very much alive and well and exploiting every English myth about the mysterious Celts to plot her return to power.

Though set in 11th Century Scotland the examination of the effect of occupation on both the troops and the conquered populace has a depressing resonance, it could just as easily be Afghanistan or Iraq in 2013. Gruach (Lady Macbeth) perfectly encapsulates in one phrase the feeling of the native when a foreign power justifies a war in pursuit of peace in another’s country: “Your ‘peace’ is just another word for you winning,” she spits.

dunsinane6-jonny-phillips-and-siobhan-redmond-LST085381

The cultural differences between the Scots and the English are exploited to good effect by Grieg and for all the drama and intrigue the play is replete with unexpected humour as the troops attempt to negotiate the intricate politics and allegiances of the clan system and come to terms with the restless natives, their customs and the unforgiving climate.

The perfectly controlled central performance of Jonny Phillips is utterly enthralling, he has the audience transfixed from the moment he strides onstage and holds them in his thrall to the bitter end. Siobhan Redmond is hypnotic as Lady Macbeth and the pair are ably supported by a talented ensemble, in particular, Tom Gill as The Boy Soldier, Joshua Jenkins as Eric the Archer and Sandy Grierson as Malcolm.

Siobhan-Redmond-and-Jonny-001

David Grieg is a writer of rare form and there is as much lyrical poetry in the lines as laughs. The action moves swiftly under the direction of Roxana Silbert and the two and a half hour running time flies by in the blink of an eye, leaving you wanting more. This is a compelling tale, vibrantly told, an unalloyed triumph and a pure pleasure to watch.

Currently touring.

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★★

REVIEW: The Monster in the Hall – Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow

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

Writer: David Greig

Director: Guy Hollands

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★★

A few weeks on from the Edinburgh Fringe and it’s time for another unlikely premise for a musical play. The Monster in the Hall tells the story of young teen Duck Macatarsney (Gemma McElhinney) and her pizza-eating, spliff-smoking, bike-riding, heavy metal loving widower dad (Keith Macpherson) whose MS is gradually worsening. An impending visit from the Social Work Department, the confusing attentions of a classmate and the worry of what her dad is actually doing on the computer for hours after she goes to bed, add to Duck’s increasingly loosening grip on her life.

Unlikely the premise may be – but boy does it work. This is a well-worked script which is laugh out loud funny from start to finish. The story is infused with such infectious charm and wit that I defy anyone not to be completely engaged by its joy and exuberance. It also manages to deliver a dose of healthy realism to a subject matter which could easily have been ruined by political correctness or over-sentimentality. The pacing too, is all but perfect: moving the story along with just enough time to get the message across whilst never letting you get bored.

The cast of four show impressive versatility and energy as they deftly handle the disparate and hysterical characters as well as providing us with the chirpy musical interludes. With a Norwegian online gamer; a smarmy teacher; a sexually misunderstood classmate; a leaflet obsessed social worker and the would-be writer teen central character, the cast have plenty to sink their teeth into. Shining brightest among them is McElhinney as Duck, whose beguiling delivery has you wishing her every crazy dream come true.

We should celebrate originality wherever we find it. All too often the theatre world regurgitates the same old tried and tired formulas. Writer David Greig pushes the boundaries in The Monster in the Hall proving that things we might turn our gaze from or want to be swept under the carpet can be thoughtfully, realistically and hysterically staged for entertainment.

This is a true gem of a show, richly deserving acclaim and deserves to be seen by the widest audience. Look out for it as it tours the UK. You will not be disappointed.

Runs until 22nd September

REVIEW: Yellow Moon – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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

Writer: David Greig

Director: Guy Hollands

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

A life changing incident involving one character, and a fateful decision by the other bring together the unlikely protagonists of this latest production from the National Theatre of Scotland. Yellow Moon charts the exploits of “Silent” Leila and “Stag” Lee as they flee Bonnie and Clyde style from a moment of teenage madness.

David Greig’s engrossing play delivers on several levels, firstly giving us a pair of wholly believable central characters who step convincingly from the real world into this story and by providing a piece which manages to avoid the often single-layered characterisations of young people today. In looking at the contradictions of the two teens, both frantically trying to escape the depressing reality of their daily lives, but equally desperate to find a sense of belonging and ultimately love, he delivers a credible and arresting piece of theatre.

The cast of four ably drive the narrative, but it is David Carlyle as cock-sure teen Lee who grabs the lion’s share of the attention. He swaggers arrogantly through the piece but delivers with such an engaging charm that you can’t help but root for him no matter what he says or does. He also skilfully portrays how the teen’s swagger masks a pain caused by a home life blighted by a mother haunted by the black dog of depression.

On the downside, the sometimes smug tone of the narration jars with the more authentic voice of the central action of the piece and the story seems to meander rather than have any particular point to make. That said, the play builds eventually to a gripping and emotional conclusion in which the viewer is fully invested.

Parents may well cringe at the dialogue and antics here, dealing as it does with neglect and self-harm, but any teen today will recognise it as a realistic depiction of their world. This is an intelligent glimpse into the youth of today and how split second actions can affect the whole path of the rest of your life.

A compelling piece of storytelling, sparingly staged and impressively executed, and a piece that lives up to the National Theatre of Scotland’s aim to: “make incredible theatre experiences which will stay in your heart and mind.”

Runs until 22nd September