Tag Archives: James Mackenzie

REVIEW: The Ghosting of Rabbie Burns – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Gillian Duffy’s comedy The Ghosting of Rabbie Burns is a total wee charmer of a show, more than helped along by two first rate actors in the central roles.

Heartbroken author Ariel Winters (Morna Young) takes herself to her aunt’s old cottage in Ayrshire to get over her cheating ex. As she celebrates Burns night alone, wishing that the right man would show up, she gets a visitation slightly different than she’d hoped for. The ghost of Rabbie Burns (James MacKenzie) appears to give her some dating advice – and boy does he know what he’s talking about, but Ariel has a few things to teach Rabbie – Tinder and modern day dating parlance to name just two.

A modern rom com, The Ghosting of Rabbie Burns also manages to weave in a raft of fascinating facts about the Ploughman Poet, the narrative perfectly enhanced by the inclusion of the brightest and best songs and poems of Burns. Both Young and Mackenzie do a fine job of showcasing the bard’s work: My Love is Like a Red Red Rose; Ae Fond Kiss; Charlie is my Darlin’ ; John Anderson, My Jo and of course, Auld Lang Syne (with some audience participation) are just beautiful.

For all the comedy, there’s poignancy and behind the laughs there’s a message of hope and optimism. There’s also the dawning realisation that the dynamics of dating and relationships have barely changed in 200+ years.

Scottish TV favourite James MacKenzie is ideally cast as the “rose-tinted idealist” Burns – physically epitomising our collective image of our national poet. With a cheeky glint in his eye and a deft comedic touch, he charms the audience from the moment he steps on stage. Morna Young is a perfectly pitched Ariel, thoroughly relatable she is also in possession of a gorgeous singing voice.

Small in scale but absolutely perfectly formed. An unexpected gem that really warms the heart.

TOURING TO:

29 JAN – Oran Mor, Glasgow

30 JAN – Barrfields Theatre, Largs,

31 JAN – Harbour Arts, Irvine

1 FEB – Cumbernauld Theatre,

2 FEB – Palace Theatre, Kilmarnock

NEWS: Eastwood Park Theatre Announces Line Up For First Half of 2019

Eastwood Park Theatre has lined up a series of top shows for the first half of 2019, bringing a wide variety of performances, including music and comedy, dance and drama and plenty for the kids.

Highlights include a new ‘romcom’, starring River City’s James Mackenzie to mark the Burns’ weekend, comedy shows including Glasgow International Comedy Festival’s family-friendly comedian James Campbell as well as Des McLean, Gary Little and Raymond Mearns.

No theatre season would be complete without a touch of drama – the world premiere of Sherlock Holmes: The Sign of Four will come for two nights in April, while The Electrifying Mr Johnston from Mull Theatre Company presents the story of one of Scotland’s unsung heroes and features an informal script-in-hand reading of a new play, giving the audience the chance to be part of the creative process along the way.

There are top tribute nights on the bill featuring some of the biggest names in music including Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen and Status Quo, as well as The Travelling Wilburys.

Kids will also be able to catch the fantastic There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly during the February weekend, The MacDougalls’ Safari Adventure and Little Top, allowing the little ones to experience the magic of circus up close in May.

Anthony McReavy from East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure said: “There really is something for everyone in our forthcoming season at Eastwood Park Theatre.

“Make a date for a comedy night out – we have top Scottish comedians including Gary Little and Des McLean getting together for one great comedy night out and we have The Odyssey comedy coming to Clarkston Hall in May from the critically-acclaimed Pantaloons.

“Music fans are in for a treat too as we host the UK’s no.1 swing and jive band, The Jive Aces as well as some great tribute nights. You can also catch music by Scottish musician Mairi Campbell as she presents Auld Lang Syne, with live music, animation and movement.

“As always, we have plenty lined up for children including Little Gift, which is told with exquisite puppetry, original music and lots of heart from multi-award winning M6 theatre.

“Last but not least, we’re bringing back some big films to the big screen with a Grease Sing-A-Long, The Sound of Music and Paddington 2 all part of our line up.”

Find out more and book online now at:  www.eastwoodparktheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 0141 577 4956

REVIEW: The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam

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

Writer: Johnny McKnight

Director: Johnny McKnight

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★½

Fifteen year old Sam McTannan has a superpower, the ability to make himself invisible: invisible to the cool kids at school, invisible to his teachers and invisible to the girl of his dreams. It’s a superpower he’s really rather happy with, ensuring as it does a pretty quiet life. But one tragic day all that changes when Sam’s beloved parents Chip the Grip and Sheila the Feeler, are killed in a car crash. Sam’s superpowers desert him, placing him firmly centre stage, where he has to deflect the attention of well-meaning teachers, his nemesis Uncle Herbie and the horrific school bully Chunk, boyfriend of his teenage crush Violet.

The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam, this heart-breaking, thought-provoking and ultimately life-affirming play comes to us from the assured pen of Johnny McKnight and manages the difficult feat of being genuinely laugh out loud funny and deeply moving in equal measure. It has emotional pull from the very first scene, grabbing you and tugging at your heart strings, pulling you this way and that, throughout the whole 80 minute roller-coaster ride.

To his great credit McKnight never shies away from confronting difficult themes and his fine ear for comic dialogue and finger on the heartbeat of the shunned in society strikes a chord, not only with the high school students in the audience, but all of those who have survived their teenage years.

The actors are universally deserving of praise, Julie Brown and James Mackenzie take on multiple and diverse roles with ease, and manage the lightning quick changes with a slickness that defies belief. Particularly successful are Brown’s perfectly judged portrayal of Mrs. Timmins, the eccentric but well-meaning Home Economics teacher and Mackenzie’s hysterical turn as Sam’s best buddy Walrus. As Sam, James Young carries the weight of the dialogue on his shoulders and manages to switch between direct audience address and dramatic interaction with admirable skill. He is utterly and heartbreakingly convincing as the ill at ease teen negotiating his way through the minefield of growing up, grief and love.

The set design by Lisa Sangster deserves special mention. Through the stunning use of Jamie Macdonald’s ingenious animations and Kim Beveridge’s video design we are not only fully immersed in Sam’s world but also party to his innermost thoughts.

Innovative, emotive and unmissable, I defy you to leave the theatre without a lump in your throat. See it if you can.

Reviewed on 24 September then touring Scotland.

REVIEW: Noel Coward’s Private Lives – A Play, A Pie and A Pint, Oran Mor, Glasgow

I’m sure you’ve probably gathered that I go to the theatre a lot – sometimes 3-4 times a week for a combination of work and pleasure. How I’ve managed to miss or ignore Oran Mor’s A Play A Pie And A Pint until now, I just don’t know. The lure of food is never a bad thing in my book but the lure of food, alcohol (or not if you choose) and Noel Coward is just about downright irresistible. And so it proved as I trotted off to see this, not quite knowing what I was letting myself in for. Now the gathered (and obviously well-versed in the routine) hoards around Oran Mor were beating a tactical path to the rear of the bar to queue to snaffle either the best seats or the best pies – I’m not sure which. After doing the old jacket on one chair, bag on another routine to nab a prime view amongst the unreserved seating I went to obtain my promised pie and pint and very fine they were too.

The biggest surprise of the day wasn’t the jam-packed theatre space, the fine pies or the sheer amazement at the fact that they managed to condense Noel Coward’s 1930 masterpiece into an hour, but the sheer quality of the acting on show. Each member of the cast fizzed and sparkled throughout the whole of this utterly charming and truly delectable story. Selina Boyack, James Mackenzie, Jennifer Hainey and Richard Conlon deserve every plaudit thrown their way. They portrayed the sizzling chemistry, high comedy and moments of still shocking (even after 82 years) amorality of the piece perfectly.

Get a ticket to this quick – I urge you – runs until Saturday details here.