Tag Archives: Jimmy Chisholm

REVIEW: News Hacks – Òran Mór, Glasgow

Political satire may not be dead in Scotland, but it’s demise on the comedy scene has left it in dire need of resuscitation. Producers Karen Townsend and Rikki Brown have applied the defibrillator and delivered News Hacks, a monthly riff on the great, the good and the not so clever making the headlines in Scotland.

No political stone is left unturned and no Scottish political figure of any worth escapes examination. While Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, diminutive Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie and Scottish Lib Dem’s Willie Rennie come in for some cutting comment, it is the SNP and it’s leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, one Fiona Hyslop, who are on the receiving end of the most biting satire.

While the lion’s share of the night is given over to national politics, it spreads its gaze further: Putin’s Russia, TV show Shetland (a highlight of the evening), Lorraine Kelly’s somewhat idiosyncratic interview style (having Ed Sheerin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in the same segment), local TV news anchor John MacKay and newspaper The National and it’s independence referendum spin on even the most ridiculous subjects, all come under scrutiny.

The sharply observed script is given greater punch by the three hugely talented actors delivering it. Stand up comedian, actor and presenter Des McLean has the requisite comedy chops to pull this off with great aplomb and his accents are (largely) on the nose, hugely experienced actor and comedy veteran Elaine MacKenzie Ellis has the chance to shine with her spot-on take on a wide range of Scottish female worthies, and Scottish national treasure Jimmy Chisholm’s comic timing and ability to get an audience on side, all amount to an absolutely hysterical look at Scotland today and all our quirks.

News Hacks is a hugely welcome addition to the comedy scene: biting, brilliant and about time too for a resuscitation of satire in Scotland.

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub 

The next News Hacks will be at Òran Mór on 20 June 2018 | Image: Contributed

REVIEW: Mack the Knife – Oran Mor, Glasgow

The creation of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “play with music” The Threepenny Opera is as dramatic as the ground-breaking work itself. In Morag Fullerton’s hands that story becomes Mack The Knife, an Oran Mor mini musical.

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The journey to stage success was rough, actors walking out in droves, a title changing weekly and a producer desirous of a quick summer season money-spinner. It isn’t until the last-minute addition of a signature tune for amoral antihero Macheath, that finally, it all falls into place. Suffused with the same wit as Fullerton’s previous adaptations of stage/screen classics Casablanca and Sunset Boulevard, it has laughter and tears, humour and pathos in spades.

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The quartet of supremely talented actors, double, triple and quadruple parts and provide the musical accompaniment. The only quibble being Angela Darcy’s less than era-authentic vocals, whilst strong and clear, are a tad too cruise ship for 1920’s Berlin.

For all the humour, Fullerton reminds us of the ultimate fate of the participants. While many manage to escape the Nazi gas chambers, Kurt Gerron, actor, singer, director and original Macheath, isn’t so lucky, coerced into directing a Nazi propaganda film, when he outlives his usefulness his captors transport him to the ultimate death camp, forced to sing his signature song as he is marched to his death at Auschwitz.

Like so many of Fullarton’s works, one can only hope it has a life long after its week at Oran Mor.

Images: Leslie Black

REVIEW: The Pie-Eyed Piper of Hamilton – Oran Mor Summer Pantomime, Glasgow

Proving that pantomime is for all year not just for Christmas, Oran Mor’s latest summer offering is The Pie-Eyed Piper of Hamilton, a familiar tale re-worked for our post-referendum, parliament invading SNP times.

City State is overrun with rats and nothing nor no one can get rid of them, so the straw haired Mayor from the south is forced against all his instincts, to call on the services of a shell-suit wearing permanent inebriate with magical powers from north of the border.

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Cue a clash of cultures and political satire a plenty. There’s double-damery too from Paul James Corrigan as the Piper’s tattoo adorned mammy and the skin-tight lycra clad Mayor’s daughter, and cross dressing from Annie Grace and Kirstin McLean as the Piper and Cyril the Mayor’s right hand man.

As always the cast are on top form but the politicking and the too-frequent and unfunny use of the f-word render this less successful than previous outings, there’s still fun throughout – just don’t take the tinies to see it.

REVIEW: Aladdin – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

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Originally written for http://www.thepublicreviews.com

Writer: Eric Potts

Director: Jimmy Chisholm

Musical Director: Ian Vince-Gatt

Choreographer: Joanne McShane

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

Crash, bang, wallop what a show, they don’t come any bigger than the full-on assault on the senses that is the annual King’s Theatre pantomime, which next year celebrates a 50 year unbroken run of festive shows. With a roster of Scottish acting and comedy talent and a storyline tailor-made for the Glasgow audience this is a year-on-year sell-out success and a long-held tradition with Glaswegian families. This year the story receiving the King’s treatment is Aladdin which, apart from some local in-jokes and the inevitable pop culture references for the tweenies, sticks to the traditional pantomime version of the story.

The success of any festive show is dependent on the strength of its actors and with a plot as holey as Widow Twankey’s capacious drawers; the casting of Scottish comedy icons Karen Dunbar (Mrs. McConkey/The Genie of the Ring), Des Clarke (Wishee Washee) and Gavin Mitchell (Abanazar) is inspired. The sublime comedy skills of the trio are the glue that binds the whole thing together. Dunbar, in particular is a star; a woman who merely needs to raise an eyebrow or flare a nostril to have an audience in stitches, that she is also in possession of a belter of a voice is a fabulous bonus. Mitchell is also in top form as evil baddie Abanazar; giving his best Tim Curry à la Rocky Horror voice and the best “Mwa ha ha” evil laugh you’ll hear in years. As the titular character Kieran Brown has little to do apart from a magic carpet riding rendition of Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher’ and a few bits of fluff, as has Jenny Douglas, under-used as Princess Jasmine. The pair are highly gifted performers both in possession of first class musical theatre voices but here we only get glimpses of the talent underneath. The sets and costumes too, are stars in themselves; no expense has been spared in their design and construction and they read supremely well on stage; the word stunning simply doesn’t do them justice.

This is everything a Christmas show should be, with plenty for both adults and kids alike: there’s sparkle and pizzazz, there’s music and dancing, sing-a-longs and slapstick and the highlights more than make up for the sometimes saggy plot. With Aladdin, the King’s upholds its long held position as the number one pantomime in Glasgow.

Runs until 12th January 2014

REVIEW: The Collection – Motherwell Theatre, Motherwell

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This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-collection-motherwell-theatre-motherwell/

Writer: Mike Cullen

Director: Michael Emans

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★½☆

Mike Cullen’s The Collection is a tale of desperation, conscience, poverty, avarice, inevitable tragedy and depressing relevance and resonance, despite being written almost twenty years ago. After ten years, Bob Lawson (Jimmy Chisholm) is at the top of his “profession”, something to be proud of you would think, well it would be, were it not for the fact that his “profession” is debt collection. But Lawson’s life is shattered forever when one of his female clients commits suicide. Charting the sordid dealings and the financially, morally and spiritually bankrupt characters who pass through the collection agency’s doors, this is a grim tale for our grim times.

The smell of testosterone and desperation hangs heavy in the air and Cullen’s work wears its influences on its sleeve: the gritty dialogue, grim humour and male egos at their worst, particularly in the interactions between the wholly repellent hard man Joe played with chilling detachment by David Tarkenter and naive new boy Billy (Tam Dean Burn) can’t help but remind one of the work of David Mamet.

The dialogue is, as expected raw, the humour black and the drama intense, however, there is an overwhelming sense of inevitability and predictability about the whole affair. The storyline, whilst compelling never fully develops: it makes no comment on the causes of debt nor does it offer any solutions or judgements, and the portrayal of women as easy victims, willing to sell themselves for “a mutually beneficial business agreement” is quite frankly, offensive.

The small cast of actors more than makes up for its faults though, and Jimmy Chisholm’s central performance as Lawson is flawless. Tam Dean Burn too, turns in a convincing portrayal of the eager to impress new employee Billy who, despite initial reservations, throws the conscience he once had to the wind, in order to impress his boss.

Nearing the end of a national tour, this company is a well-oiled machine, both the scene changes and the interactions between the actors are seamless, slick and well-honed. Entertainment it is not, rather it is an often bleak but utterly compelling portrayal of an all too real and hellishly common problem enacted by a hugely talented cast.

REVIEW: Casablanca The Gin Joint Cut – Hamilton Town House

Since its debut in 2010 at Oran Mor, Casablanca The Gin Joint Cut, has had two successful runs at the Edinburgh Festival and arrives here in the middle of a comprehensive UK tour.

At once, reverential and irreverent, it is a loving parody of the classic film but with some “DVD extras”. Gavin Mitchell,Claire Waugh and Jimmy Chisholm provide a truly laugh-out-loud evening’s entertainment. The love, care and quality of this just shines through. The script, the props and the physical comedy never descend into cheap farce – this is clever and original.  I urge you if you get the chance go and see it.

Thursday 1st November – Sunday 4th November Eden Court INVERNESS 01463 234234

Thursday 8th November  Town Hall RUTHERGLEN 0141 613 5700

Friday 9th November Corran Halls OBAN 01631 567333

Saturday 10th November Queen’s Hall DUNOON 01369 702800

Sunday 11th November Victoria Hall HELENSBURGH 01436 673275