Tag Archives: Glasgow

REVIEW: Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of) – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Sometimes a production comes along that sends you to the street with a smile on your face, The Tron Theatre Company and Blood of the Young’s Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of) is one (sort of).

Promising to deliver a re-worked version of the Jane Austen classic for a 21st Century audience, it certainly delivers on that front: the five-strong, all-female cast doubling and tripling up on roles male and female; a script choc-full of clever lines; a host of visual jokes; characters clad in Regency garb belting out classic pop tunes through a karaoke machine and scoffing cereal straight from the box; social parallels (unfortunately) travelling down the 200 years since the work was written, it may well strike a chord with a youthful audience, however, the production is not without its faults.

While promoted as entertaining for those unfamiliar with the work, it could be argued that much of the humour only really hits home with a knowledge of the original text, otherwise it’s rendered surface and slapstick and while, to its credit, little of the original plot is sacrificed in this re-telling, that itself is a problem, at over two hours 45 minutes, for all its ability to entertain and amuse, it is a physical marathon.

Its greatest asset is its universally excellent cast. Meghan Tyler is a particularly appealing Lizzie and the sheer joy with which the cast tackle the lengthy script, singing and slapstick can’t fail to impress.

A brave choice for adaptation, and a largely effective and highly entertaining evening’s theatre from a top-notch cast, but far from perfect.

Runs until 14 July 2018 | Image: John Johnston

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Love From a Stranger – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Adapted from a 1934 short story Philomel Cottage, Agatha Christie wrote an unperformed stage version of the same name which itself was re-written as Love From a Stranger by actor and playwright Frank Vosper in 1936. Director Lucy Bailey, for Fiery Angel and Royal & Derngate Northampton, re-sets the action two decades later to the 1950s, all cut-glass accents and limited female opportunity.

This psychological thriller provides a great night’s entertainment, but be aware that this is a slow burn that smoulders along without ever fully bursting into flame.

Cecily Harrington (Helen Bradbury) comes up trumps in a sweepstake, and while Cecily wants to live large on her substantial winnings, her dull as ditch water fiancé Michae (Justin Avoth) arrives back from the Sudan to dash her plans and resign her to a life of domestic drudgery. When an attractive and adventurous American, Bruce Lovell (Sam Frencham) comes on the scene, Cecily’s world is turned on its head. Cecily marries Bruce, moving to an isolated cottage in the country.

The red herrings are positively scarlet. From the beginning it’s clear that Lovell isn’t what he seems. He lurks in the shadows, surreptitiously taking pictures of Cecily, sniffing her lingerie, constantly scribbling in a notebook. Moving her from friends and neighbours, the gaslighting continues until Cecily is an apparent puppet in Lovell’s hands, but all is never as it seems on the surface with Christie. As the tension builds and perspectives change, we are entertainingly led along the crooked path that Christie is so well known for.

This entire production is quite obviously influenced by Michael Powell’s 1960 British cinema classic, Peeping Tom. The sense of unease is cleverly created on Mike Britton’s sliding wall set with opaque panels where we can watch Lovell’s voyeuristic goings-on. Richard Hammarton’s sound design and Oliver Fenwick’s crimson-tinged lighting are characters in themselves, helping to ramp up the creeping tension.

The cast are uniformly solid given how affected the original dialogue sounds to an audience’s modern ear and the ‘heightened’ characterisations skirt (just) on the right side of caricature.

Christie rarely puts a foot wrong, and as a piece of ‘good, old-fashioned’ entertainment it is undoubtedly a winner.

Runs until 30 June 2018 | Image: Contributed, review originally written for The Reviews Hub

 

REVIEW: The Band – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Firstly, a fact needs to be stated that this is not the Take That story. The words Take That are never uttered in the entire two and a half hours of the show. You would also be mistaken for thinking that the boyband recruited from the BBC reality show Let It Shine were the crux of the production, and while they feature large, they are far from the centre of the story.

Instead, it’s a story of five friends that spans 25 years. A story of growing up, love and loss, opportunity unfulfilled, of hope, peppered throughout with the hits of the biggest British boy band of the past quarter of a century. It is also more story with music rather than jukebox musical.

Writer Tim Firth clearly has the target demographic in his sights. The mature version of these 90s teens are the heart of the show. Take That the soundtrack to their lives. The pop culture references abound: Smash Hits posters on bedroom walls, Top of the Pops, Ceefax, cassette taping Top of the Pops, it unashamedly taps into the unquenchable thirst for nostalgia.

This is clearly a show of two halves: the central quartet of Heather (Emily Joyce), Rachel (Rachel Lumberg), Claire (Alison Fitzjohn) and Zoe (Jayne McKenna) are fine actresses with a wealth of talent, and it is only when the story fully centres on this quartet that it achieves any real depth. Tim Firth’s dialogue for the mature characters is utterly believable, it is less so for their teenage versions, where it is largely contrived and one-dimensional.

The quartet’s younger selves are played by Katy Clayton (Heather), Faye Cristall (Rachel), Sarah Kate Howarth (Claire) and Lauren Jacobs (Zoe) with Rachelle Diedricks as teenage pal Debbie. Their schoolgirl antics, while familiar, are a tad contrived and their diction is poor, rendering most of the lines a garbled mush. The first half also suffers from a strange selection of Take That songs that don’t exactly fit the narrative. With a back catalogue as fine as this, the choices seem plain odd.

‘The Band’ as played by Five to Five: A.J. Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T. Johns, Yazdan Qafouri, Sario Solomon prove just how good Take That were, and still are. These songs, while seeming easy to sing, just aren’t, and the quintet while having a solid go at it, never fully do the songs justice.

For anyone who has ever seen Take That live, the set design will look familiar. The production values of the band who are the producers of the show are replicated here. It’s big and bold and the stage is jam-packed with effects.

This show has had it’s fair amount of flak, its detractors have been many, but there’s a fundamental question to be asked: are they the target audience? I am pretty sure that the producers made no claims to enlighten or educate. Indeed, the programme notes say it’s a “love letter to the fans”. It’s intended for the Take That fandom, if you’re here and you’re not a fan of Take That, I’d question your choices. Sometimes theatre is made just to be entertaining. But, this reviewer is very much the target demographic, like most of the audience, knowing the words to every one of these tunes and willing this to be a joy, and while the second half was superior to the first, it ultimately doesn’t do enough to overcome its faults. I am sure The Band will be a satisfying night’s entertainment, a piece of pure escapism and nostalgia for many and it may fulfil its brief as ‘a love letter to the fans’, but for this audience member, there are more feelings of disappointment than delight.

Runs until 7 July 2018 | Image: Matt Crockett review originally written for and published by The Reviews Hub.

 

REVIEW: Sunshine on Leith – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Stephen Greenhorn’s original musical, Sunshine on Leith, predates the movie version by seven years. Originally commissioned by Dundee Rep’s artistic director James Brining. Brining, now artistic director at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, returns to the work, breathing new life into the piece for this 2018 tour and you can almost hear the fanfare of trumpets that herald the musical’s return to its homeland.

Greenhorn’s tale is Scottish to its very core, but the themes of love, loss and opportunities taken or missed, are universal. Soldiers Davy (Steven Miller) and Ally (Paul James Corrigan) return from Afghanistan home to Leith. Ally pursues his former love Liz (Neshla Caplan), Davy, her best pal Yvonne (Jocasta Almgill), but in the joy of their return home there are problems too, not least with Davy’s parents Rab (Phil McKee) and Jean (Hilary MacLean).

The political and social climate has changed much in the 11 years since its creation, but the story still has the power to move, and it’s in no small way down to the music and lyrics of Craig and Charlie Reid. At first glance the songs of The Proclaimers may not seem like a match made in heaven for a musical, but they are. Playing a crucial part in driving the plot along. The familiarity of the lyrics to the Scottish audience, heightens the emotion in the parts of the narrative they serve to enhance. That said, the emotional moments aren’t exactly subtle, but the narrative is treated with such a deft hand and sufficient originality elsewhere, that it’s easy to forgive any tiny quibble. Greenhorn’s dialogue is pitch-perfect for this story of ‘normal’, ‘ordinary’ people, a hard thing to pull off in musical theatre and every joke lands slap-bang on its mark. Greenhorn also manages to address the eternal issue of the emotionally stunted, stereotypical Scottish man with thoughtfulness as well as humour.

Worthy of note is Emily-Jane Boyle’s outstanding choreography. It is intricate and original, but still looks like real people dancing – a feat that’s hard to achieve convincingly.

The cast are joined on the transforming pub set (comparisons will inevitably be made with the musical Once) by the seven-piece band who (as they are not hidden in the pit) bring a raw immediacy to the music. The arrangements of these familiar songs are worthy of note too: the ears pricking up at some of the original treatments of them.

Paul James Corrigan (Ally) returns to a stage he is more than familiar with and feeds off of the energy of his home crowd. There’s an extra spring in his step which transmits to the auditorium, well-known and loved for his comedy performances, he impresses as a singer and dancer too. The crowd with him every step of the way. Steven Miller (Davy) is a fine dramatic actor and has an even finer voice to match, he gets the chance to show off his comedy chops here, Jocasta Almgill is excellent as Davy’s love interest Yvonne, and Phil McKee and Hilary MacLean as Davy’s parents are perfectly played.

This story (to its credit) resists the urge to tie everything up in a neat bow and resolve every plotline, ultimately, this is a life-affirming story about ‘real lives’ that will resonate with most, if not all, of its target audience. If the eardrum bursting reaction of this audience at the end is anything to go by – it more than hit all the right notes. To borrow from The Proclaimers themselves, this is guaranteed to make your heart fly.

Runs until 23 June 2018 | Image: Contributed

THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED BY THE REVIEWS HUB

INTERVIEW: Scottish star Jayne McKenna talks The Band and coming home to Glasgow

Jayne McKenna trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has an enviable CV in theatre, TV, radio and film. She returns home to Glasgow to star in the much-anticipated The Band, when it come to The King’s in Glasgow from 26 June to 7 July 2018. I had a chance to catch up with Jayne before she arrives in town.

How does it feel coming home to Glasgow with such a hugely anticipated show?

Thrilling. I trained there so for me it’s full circle. And I’ve never played The Kings so that’s another treat.

Tell us a bit about your role in The Band.

It’s about a group of girls you meet when they’re young and then again as women, and about the changes and surprises life springs, so, while the younger me thinks her life is going to be all books and study, I turn out quite differently, but no spoilers.

What can the audience expect from the show?

Bring tissues, it gets emotional – laughing one minute and crying the next. And our musicians are stunning, not to mention the ‘boyband’ Five to Five – brilliant all-rounders a joy to work with.

Do you have any favourite moments, scenes or songs from the show that we should look out for?

The song ‘Get Ready For It’. I hadn’t heard it before and it’s become favourite. Incredibly uplifting.

The show has had an enviable amount of publicity, the main male roles being cast on the show Let It Shine, how have audiences received the production as it’s toured the country.

Tremendously. Every night on their feet. Apparently 62% of our audience have never been to the theatre before, and some have now seen it 14 times. People identify with the characters – they tell us at stage door all the time: “Thanks for being me up there”.

What’s life like on the road with a show like The Band?

Tough, especially as a mum. I’m very lucky I have my husband. FaceTiming home is a vital part of my day.

You have an impressive (and if I may say heavy weight) theatrical CV, what have been your favourite roles so far?

The show where I met my husband, of course. Playing Goneril in King Lear with Nicol Williamson is up there. We had an incredible connection as fellow Scots. I stayed in touch with him and even had the honour of singing jazz with his band.

Is there any Play/Musical you’d love to be in?

More Shakespeare would be nice: I’ve tuned into him more as I’ve got older. Not just the language, the thoughts, and being able to express things that in life only occur to us (if they do) in hindsight when the moment has passed! But more singing too: this is my first musical and I’m loving rocking it out!

Tell us a bit more about your career path from Glasgow to touring the country singing the songs of Take That to thousands of adoring fans.

I moved to London after a stint at The Lyceum with the late greats Kenny Ireland and Gerard Murphy and continued mainly in theatre. For example, Macbeth in the West End, the Peter Hall Company, National Theatre, but, TV and radio as well and even a Bollywood film in India. Now I live in Brighton with my family.

Finally, why should we come along to see the show?

Because it might change your life. The characters are real. Their journeys are your journeys and what they survive you can survive. It’s about friendship and looking forward. Plus it’s fabulously well written and produced and the music will ‘Take you back’… and the acting’s not bad either!

Catch Jayne in The Band at the King’s Theatre from 26 June to 7 July 2018

Images: Matt Crockett

WHAT’S ON JUNE & JULY: Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple at EK Arts Centre and Webster’s Glasgow

odd couple logo

Fussy Felix and slovenly Oscar. Two mismatched roommates. What could possibly go wrong? Join Half•Wits Theatre Company for a hilarious night in the classic buddy comedy from Neil Simon, one of America’s greatest writers. From the team that brought you the sell-out successes Glengarry Glen Ross, Rope and Reasons To Be Pretty, this is sure to be a hot ticket for summer.

East Kilbride Arts Centre from the 14th-16th of June

Webster’s Theatre, Glasgow from the 4-7th of July

 

NEWS: Festival 2018 in Glasgow promises a summer of fun and a carnival of cultural activity

Having lunch with a stranger, watching seminal electro giants Orbital, trying an instrument made out of bike parts, walking under the Clyde through an immersive art installation, or taking part in a mass karaoke night in George Square are just some of the events on offer as part of Festival 2018.

The Festival 2018 programme includes hundreds of unmissable events at festival sites and communities across the city, involving around 3700 artists and performers with the vast majority of events free for all ages. The breadth, depth and accessibility of the programme ensures that there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Festival 2018 is part of the first ever European Championships, a brand new multi-sport event being staged over 11 days this August, and has established a ground-breaking cultural partnership with Glasgow’s co-host, Berlin with joint events occurring in both cities.

Glasgow’s city centre will be buzzing with activity and George Square will be the beating heart of it all. Alongside the entertainment there will be delicious Scottish food & drink to enjoy, as well as the opportunity to catch up on the day’s sporting action on the big screens.

Through its Berlin partnership, Festival 2018 is truly European in outlook and has something for everyone. The programme focuses on the creativity of Scotland’s cultural sector and features international names alongside up-and-coming artists and community performers including:

  • Wednesday 1 August – The Big Opening Party will kick off the first ever European Championships to thousands of people in George Square, featuring some of Scotland’s finest musicians including Scottish duo The Ayoub Sisters, SAY Award-winners Sacred Paws and Mercury Music Prize-nominated C Duncan. More artists are still to be announced.

 

  • Thursday 2 August – The first day of the sporting action will open with the best and brightest young musicians in Scotland, with performances in George Square all day featuring young talent aged 14 to 19 who have come through the Hit the Road and Behind the Noise programmes.

 

  • Thursday 2 August – George Square will also host an exceptional collaboration between internationally renowned visual artist Douglas Gordon and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with one of the cornerstones of the programme being a re-working for orchestration of a Mogwai composition entitled Music For A Forgotten Future (The Singing Mountain) which is to be performed live for the first time in George Square.

 

  • Saturday 4 August – Around 800 community and professional performers will take part in a vibrant carnival procession through Glasgow’s City Centre and Merchant City, finishing in Glasgow Green.  Participants will come from across Glasgow and Scotland, representing the venues of the sporting action– East Dunbartonshire, Edinburgh, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross and Stirling – as well as Glasgow schools and Karneval Der Kulturen in Berlin

 

  • Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 August – inclusive circus company Extraordinary Bodies, fill the Big Top on Glasgow Green with their new show “What Am I Worth.” A circus show with original live music and groundbreaking physical moments, with diverse skills and ways of communicating stories to audiences.

 

  • Tuesday 7 August – Glasgow Meets Berlin – a gala celebration – will see the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland collaborate for the first time ever with Europe’s largest arts institution, the Universität der Künste, to perform a live-linked concert between Glasgow and Berlin.

 

  • Friday 10 August – Orbital, Britain’s giants of electronic music, will deliver a rare performance in George Square featuring new material.

 

  • Saturday 11 August –  Mogwai’s Barry Burns will curate an evening in George Square of the best in modern music, featuring Berlin-based musicians with links to Glasgow in George Square, including Barry’s SUMS group playing their first ever gig in the UK.

 

  • Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 August – Catalonian radical make-over artists Osadia return to fashion sculptural and dramatic creations with members of the public. Are you brave enough to sit in the barber’s chair?
  • Sunday 12 August – Celtic Connections will close the European Championships and Festival 2018 in George Square with an evening of the best Scottish and world music.

 

  • A highlight of the culinary offering of Festival 2018 will be ‘Civic Canteen’ on John Street in Glasgow, a series of events and workshops with the shared goal of using delicious food as a vehicle to promote cultural exchange. With the help of Scotland’s National Chef Gary MacLean, who will be exploring seasonal food, this foodie hub encourages visitors to learn a little more about the food they’re eating and who they’re eating it with.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “Through this inclusive and innovative programme, Festival 2018, is an excellent platform to showcase Scotland’s talent and strengthen connections – both at home and internationally. There will be something for everyone and people can have a great day or evening out during the Championships.  The Festival 2018 Carnival Procession that is taking place on the first Saturday will be a very special moment when community groups from across Scotland come together to weave through the streets of Glasgow, rubbing shoulders with home-grown and international performers. With this combined offer of elite sport and a vibrant cultural programme The Glasgow 2018 European Championships will help further promote Scotland as the perfect stage for major events, enhancing its reputation for inclusiveness, cultural brilliance and creative thinking.”

Glasgow City Council’s Depute Leader, Cllr David McDonald said: “George Square has been the venue for some incredible art and entertainment over many decades – and Festival 2018 will again welcome huge crowds as the Merchant City Festival gets underway nearby. As a UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow is incredibly proud of its vibrant and world-class musical landscape and it’s fantastic to see that the Festival 2018 music programme brings together so many of its talented artists. The fun won’t just stop at George Square and Merchant City. Go Live! at the Green at Glasgow Green will be packed with activities and entertainment as well as being home to a Big Top showcasing the best in contemporary circus. Glasgow is the place to be this August.”

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Sport and the performing arts are both powerful ways in which we can all share great moments and celebrate together, so we’re absolutely delighted that our students and staff are part of this wonderful European occasion that’s centred in Glasgow. Again, like the best of sport, this special cultural festival is a great example of collaboration, teamwork and inspiration and we look forward to playing our part in making this a winning experience for individuals and communities across Glasgow, Scotland and far beyond.”

Gabriele Freytag, Senate of Interior and Sports in Berlin, said: Glasgow Meets Berlin – a gala celebration will provide a perfect opportunity to build a cultural bridge between Berlin and Glasgow, the two Host Cities of the inaugural European Championships. Embedded in the new multi-sports event the project perfectly showcases Berlin’s sporting and musical diversity.”

WHAT’S ON JULY: The Little Mix Show comes to Glasgow King’s Theatre

A highly energetic tribute show that follows in the footsteps of the award winning girl band, Little Mix.

This iconic 5-star rated show has live vocals and is full of commercial pop-video choreography.

Suitable for kids, tweens, teens and adults alike, The Little Mix Show brings the full pop concert experience to your local theatre.

There are lots of added extras including Dance Competitions, Free Giveaways and even a Meet & Greet with the girls after the show!

The Little Mix Show features all of Little Mix’s chart topping hits including the most recent releases from the Glory Days album. 

Dance & scream to a packed out playlist of hit songs that includes Black Magic, Power, No More Sad Songs, Wings, Shoutout To My Ex and even a few covers from their time on the XFactor.

GLASGOW KING’S THEATRE

TUESDAY 31 JULY 2018

WHAT’S ON SEPTEMBER: Wannabe – The Spice Girls Show at the King’s

WANNABE is a concert created to celebrate the career of the World’s biggest girl band, the Spice Girls.

Featuring the greatest Spice Girls hits, this musical celebration recreates the era of Girl Power.

From the chart stomping ‘Spice Up Your Life’ through to the hip shaking ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, WANNABE takes you on a Spice World journey through the Spice Girls group and solo careers that will make you Zig-A-Zig-Ahhhh.

Swing it, shake it, move it, make it down however you can. Costumes, groups & families all welcome for the biggest 90s party in town.

Hi, si, ja, hold tight!

GLASGOW KING’S THEATRE

SAT 22 SEPTEMBER 2018 (EVENING AND MATINEE SHOWS)

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Following on from the critically-acclaimed new work, The Red Shoes, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures delve deep into the back catalogue to 1997 to revive their much-loved production of Cinderella.

Re-set to World War 2, Cinderella and her shell-shocked, RAF pilot beau, meet and part during the horrors of The Blitz. The familiar elements of the story remain: the ‘wicked’ step-mother and (not so wicked) step-sisters (with a few step-brothers thrown into the mix), and while there’s no Fairy Godmother, there’s the (somewhat malevolent) platinum-haired Angel, whose sinister presence punctuates the action. Instead of facilitating the fairy-tale ending, it feels more like manipulation. The setting, and Bourne’s handling of it, perfectly encapsulates the fragility of love during wartime.

As ever, Lez Brotherston’s design is stunning, from bombed out buildings, the London Underground, the (ball substitute) evening at The Café de Paris, The Embankment to Platform 12 at Paddington Station, each element is breath-taking. The limited colour palette of greys, and blacks is darkly atmospheric and draw the eye to key features of the narrative: Cinders pure white dress, the red cape of a Red Cross nurse, it is a masterpiece of theatre design. It perfectly reflects Britain in its ‘darkest hour’. Paul Groothuis’ sound and Neil Austin’s lighting design only add to the magic.

Sergei Prokofiev’s haunting score has been edited down in Acts 1 and 2, but remains intact for Act 3. The music written contemporary to Bourne’s re-setting of the story adds a dimension of authenticity to the production. The two together a match made in heaven. It just feels right, and draws on Bourne’s own love for classic black and white movies and their music.

As with much of Bourne’s work there’s always humour to light the darkness. Including the foot-fetishist step brother, and a myriad of tiny details in both setting and action, that will raise a smile.

It’s hard to find fault in any aspect of this production, the dancers led by Ashley Shaw and New Adventures favourite Dominic North as Cinders and her Prince, are exquisite and unlike many Ballet companies, their acting ability and deftness at conveying the emotions of the story, not only match their dancing abilities but are head and shoulders above their contemporaries. Liam Mower as always leaves his mark as the Angel, as does Anjali Mehra as Sybil the exquisitely clad and coiffed, Step Mother.

With the now legendary Swan Lake to tour again next year, one can only wait with bated breath to see what new adventures are next for Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures. As ever, there are never enough superlatives for this incomparable company – simply unmissable.

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

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