Tag Archives: Kate Bonney

REVIEW: Stand By – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

Dundee. Present day. The claustrophobic back of a police riot van. Four officers wait for a negotiator to do his job, wait while a samurai sword-wielding man is threatening to kill himself and his baby son.

From the pen of former Tayside police officer Adam McNamara, Stand By isn’t your stereotypical adrenaline-filled police thriller, instead it’s a thought-provoking and highly arresting (forgive the unintentional pun) drama about the grim realities of life in the police force in 2017.

McNamara’s very real experience of the subject matter imbues the production with credibility, coupled with the wholly naturalistic, and expletive riddled dialogue, means the whole piece is grimly realistic and entirely believable.

McNamara effectively (and amusingly) conveys the mundane realities and frustrations of existing in such close quarters with your colleagues, and the thick skin required to deal with it. But, underneath the banter, much bigger discussions arise about the consequences (for both the officers and the public) of constant financial cuts, the day-to-day dangers and the personal costs of the job.

McNamara carries off the role of team leader Chris, with his precarious personal life, with gravitas, and Andy Clark is sure-footed as Dundonian police veteran Davey, hiding his own personal problems behind a sharp tongue and a world-weary wit. Jamie Marie Leary is an effective young officer determined to drag her colleagues into the 21st Century, and Laurie Scott is suitably annoying as mouthie new transfer from The Met, Marty, a man with a closet full of skeletons of his own to hide.

The production is greatly enhanced by Natasha Jenkin’s clever set design which perfectly confines the action and engenders a sense of psychological claustrophobia, while never limiting the drama. The clever use of the single-earpieces the audience wear, that convey messages from the police control room in real-time throughout the play, adds to the experience and gives a small glimpse into the pressure officers on a call are under. (A nice touch is that the voices are provided by some of Scotland’s finest actors – Ron Donachie, Richard Rankin and Jack Lowden to name a few).

This is an absolutely gripping piece of theatre (that would make a perfect TV police drama), a breath of fresh air that deserves to be seen by a much wider audience.

By the end, you really do believe the oft-repeated mantra: “the job is fucked”, and can’t help wonder what on earth the consequences will be for us all.

REVIEW: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Woodside Hall, Glasgow

In the atmospheric surroundings of Glasgow’s Woodside Hall, Psycho-like screeching strings from the barefoot orchestra clad in Edwardian garb and flashing strings of fairground lights, transport the audience back to turn of the century and the world of Dr. Caligari.

Taking as its inspiration the 1920 silent movie classic of the same name, Scottish Opera’s Connect company’s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari moves back in time to 1901 and resets the action to Glasgow instead of Germany.

Francis takes his girlfriend Jane and her best friend Ellen to the fair at Glasgow Green, among the fortune tellers and snake oil salesmen, in his Cabinet of Fate, Dr Gallagher presents a somnambulist, Cesare who can predict the future while in his sleeping state. When Cesare’s prophecy that Ellen will die that very night comes true, and Francis comes under suspicion for the murder, he and Jane begin to investigate with devastating consequences.

Under Julie Brown’s sure-footed direction, and enhanced by Lisa Sangster’s set and Kate Bonney’s lighting design, a comprehensive cast of characters colour the stage in Karen MacIver and Allan Dunn’s atmospheric and melodic work. The music and libretto are compelling throughout and its short running time (around 75 minutes) ensures that the audience is gripped from start to finish.

Despite the small size of the performance venue there are issues with projection from the young company who are often overwhelmed by the fine-sounding orchestra and dialogue is lost in several places, however, in the cast of 32 there are some stand-out performances which bode well for the future of opera in Scotland. Previous Scottish Opera Emerging Artists Andrew McTaggart and Sarah Power’s experience clearly shows, both delivering strong vocal performances as Caligari/Gallagher and Jane, the female chorus too are beautifully harmonious. Young tenor Glen Cunningham shows promise but needs to work on projecting his melodious voice and as Cesare, Daniel Keating Roberts provides novelty with his countertenor voice, but is somewhat lacking in his delivery.

Scottish Opera’s Connect programme provides the only opportunity for young Scottish musicians aged 14-21 to explore the world of opera and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari is the third world premier in eight years for Connect. The company’s commitment to innovation and the creation of new work must be applauded and if future works are of as high quality and as engaging and entertaining as Caligari then the future of opera in Scotland looks bright.