Tag Archives: Headlong

REVIEW: 1984 – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

Arriving in Glasgow on a wave of five-star reviews, Headlong’s sell-out production of 1984 at the Citizens Theatre would seem to promise much, but the question is, does it deliver? The answer, thankfully, is a resounding yes.

Theatrical productions that genuinely have the power to move are becoming fewer and farther between, but Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s new adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece certainly packs an emotional punch.

Taking as its source material the Appendix of the original novel, this is the first attempt to dramatise the often missed or disregarded part of the novel in any medium.

Despite living in a world where the general public expects, if not agrees with being routinely watched and in light of the revelations of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, the story still has the power to shock, and its resonance cannot go unnoticed; the times of financial austerity and political disenchantment in which Orwell’s masterpiece was written are startlingly familiar to audiences today.

This is a production of subtle and infinite detail. The inventive and evocative staging is the perfect marriage of set, lighting and sound design and the transformation to Room 101 is particularly skilfully and chillingly achieved. The cast deliver performances universally deserving of praise, remaining utterly convincing and perfectly pitched throughout.

The genius of Orwell’s writing remains undiminished in the hands of Headlong in this sublime production.

Runs until 6th September

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

REVIEW: The Seagull – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow


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

Writer: Anton Chekhov

Adaptation: John Donnelly

Director: Blanche McIntyre

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★½

They are tired questions, too often asked in modern theatre: “How do you make classic plays relevant to a modern audience?” and “Is it even worthwhile?” Theatre company Headlong answer the two emphatically in this subtle but powerful re-imagining of arguably one of literature’s greatest works, Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull.

Chekhov was a master of the character study, a writer who sought to probe behind the facade, and director Blanche McIntyre and John Donnelly, writer of this new version, understand that fully. With a clarity of vision for the piece, they have eschewed the temptation, yielded to by many, who merely seek to shock in their radical re-imaginings of the classics, to skilfully present this spider’s web of unrequited relationships and ambitions and all the desires and disappointments therein, with a resonance that can easily be felt by a modern audience. The whole production is imbued with an assured calm and deftness of touch that allows the audience to fully immerse themselves in the piece.

This production of the tale of fading actress Irina; her lover Boris, the middle-brow writer; her symbolist playwright son Konstantin, and star-struck, would-be actress Nina, also brings out the humour and bitterness in the melancholy, and exploits the all-too familiar and relatable conflicts that exist between men and women in love. John Donnelly’s sharply crafted, modern dialogue, elicits as many gasps of horror as recognition from the audience.

Played out on a simplistic set by Laura Hopkins, a plain plaster background and a thick plank of wood that transforms from jetty to see-saw to table, the pared-back production design concentrates the attention fully on the actors. To their credit, the cast in its entirety deliver compelling, well-judged performances with an emotional pull that, for much of the performance, had the audience utterly transfixed.

In particular, Alexander Kobb as Konstantin, delivers a performance of quiet power, perfectly illustrating the frustrations and misery of living in the shadow of his over-bearing, superficial and vain mother. As his mother Irina, Abigail Cruttenden, albeit rather young to be playing a fading diva, deftly turns on a knife-edge between spitting venom like a viper as she defends her fragile ego and oozing beguiling charm as she seeks to hang on to the affections of her adoring admirers.

This is an impeccably realised piece of theatre, due to the skill of writer Donnelly, director McIntyre and a stunningly accomplished cast and, of course, to the power of Chekhov’s original writing, this work still speaks to us with utter clarity down the centuries.

Runs until Sat 11th May

REVIEW: Medea – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

If there’s a God, which at the moment I DOUBT, I want you to curse him. If there’s any Justice, I want them – both of them – in a car crash.
Her husband’s gone and her future isn’t bright. Imprisoned in her marital home, Medea can’t work, can’t sleep, and increasingly can’t cope. While her child plays, she plots her revenge.

Receiving its world premiere at the Citizens, this emotive and affecting new version of Euripides’ Medea is a piece of theatre that speaks powerfully to its audience. Mike Bartlett is a writer of rare form and his arresting approach to storytelling packs an emotional punch. The dialogue is razor-sharp and the pacing perfect.

Rachael Stirling is exceptional and her electrifying portrayal of Medea is the highlight of the evening. This is a hugely accomplished piece of theatre impressively executed. The combination of Bartlett, Stirling and The Citizens makes for an unmissable night at the  theatre.

Runs until 13th October at the Citizens Theatre Tel – 0141 429 0022