Tag Archives: Maureen Beattie

REVIEW: Yer Granny – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Were you a cynic, you could accuse the National Theatre of Scotland of cashing in on the rising tide of nationalism and the appetite for locally sourced produce in its choice of Yer Granny, a Glaswegian version of Roberto Cossa’s 1977 Argentinian hit comedy La Nona. Rolling out a cast of homegrown TV comedy favourites and capitalising on the seemingly never ending appeal of farce, certainly wouldn’t seem to do Douglas Maxwell’s adaptation any harm either.

Be it cynical or clever, Yer Granny plays to its audience: it’s still 1977, but now reset to a flat above the family’s Glasgow chip shop, it explores how far a family on the financial brink will go to rid itself of its problems.

Gregor Fisher goes for the grotesque as the titular granny who’s eating the family out of house and home and there is strong support from Jonathan Watson as patriarch Cammy and Paul Riley as the wannabe composer and full time shirker Charlie,  but it’s Barbara Rafferty’s hysterical transformation from mild mannered Aunt Angela to gun-toting drug dealer, that stays in the memory.

Undoubtedly laugh out loud funny, there’s a darker heart that the surface laughs mask, but one can’t help feeling opportunities were missed and a descent into crudity in the second half robs the piece of potential depth.

Undeniably watchable, laugh-out-loud funny in parts, but the descent into easy stereotypes and Mrs. Brown’s Boys territory, render it a two, rather than three dimensional production.

reviewed at Glasgow King’s Theatre 27 May now touring Scotland and Northern Ireland

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/yer-granny-kings-theatre-glasgow/

Image credit: Manuel Harlan

REVIEW: Dark Road – The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Homepage-box-Lyceum-Dark_Road_Maureen

 

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

Writers: Ian Rankin & Mark Thomson

Director: Mark Thomson

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

Crime fiction may be the biggest selling literary genre in the UK but excepting the output of the late ‘Queen of Crime’ Agatha Christie, it hasn’t exactly figured large on the theatrical stage. Britain’s biggest selling crime novelist Ian Rankin and Lyceum artistic director Mark Thomson have set about redressing the balance in their psychological crime thriller Dark Road.

Isobel McArthur (Maureen Beattie) is a thirty year police veteran, Scotland’s first female Chief Constable, mother to a challenging 18 year old daughter and fast approaching retirement with a nagging doubt that just won’t go away. Was the conviction of Alfred Chalmers (Philip Whitchurch), on the basis of a single piece of flimsy forensic evidence, for the murder of four young Edinburgh women, sound? 25 years on Isobel decides to revisit the case to the horror of both her fellow officers and her daughter. The doubts escalate to the point where Isobel questions everything and everyone she knows.

If the measure of a play’s success is the quietness of its audience, coupled with unwavering gazes and complete stillness for the duration of a performance, then Dark Road is unquestionably a winner. Save for occasional gasps, some collective jaw-dropping and one lonely cough, the audience sat enthralled for the entirety of its two and a half hour running time. Dark Road retains the complexities and gritty realism of Rankin’s books and like any good crime novel provides enough twists and turns to keep the audience guessing until the very last scene. The only criticism that could be levelled at the piece is that there are a couple of scenes of slightly unnatural and at times, clunky dialogue but these are entirely understandable and necessary due to the theatrical constraints; everything has to be played out and stated on stage for the story to be established. That said, they don’t in anyway detract from the overall quality or pace of the piece. The second act is a masterclass in psychological drama, ramping up both the thrills and tension at a head-spinning pace.

The central performances are of such a universally high quality that it seems churlish to single anyone out but Beattie’s strength and authority shines through in her highly convincing portrayal of Isobel. Ron Donachie, as ever, brings a gravelly gravitas to the role of retired Inspector McLintock and Philip Whitchurch, is in turn chilling and convincingly innocent as Chalmers.

The set design by Francis O’Connor, is a marvel, rotating and transforming, twisting and turning to reflect the plot and coupled with an almost subliminal sound design by composer Philip Pinsky is significant  in helping establish the unsettling atmosphere that pervades throughout.

To say that Ian Rankin’s debut play has been much anticipated is an understatement and there is no doubt that this is an audience pleaser. Utterly gripping, gritty and great entertainment, this is a welcome and long overdue addition to the theatrical thriller genre.

Runs until 19 October

REVIEW: Noises Off – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

no_tour_400x600-for-website

Farce seems to be making something of a comeback, starting with the worldwide success of One Man Two Guv’nors – and now, following its successful revival at the Old Vic, Michael Frayn’s 1983 play Noises Off has arrived in Glasgow on its national tour.

The show follows the antics of a touring theatre company, from chaotic rehearsals to a shambolic matinee and finishing with a disastrous performance in Stockton-on-Tees.

The production flashes between the company’s ill-fated play Nothing On and the manic backstage shenanigans. It contains all the classic elements of farce: people running around in their underwear, men dropping their trousers, actors forgetting their lines, characters who miss their cues and doors opening and slamming shut all over the place.

no_tour_9shot_400x400

The success of this show rests in the hands of its cast – and boy is this a cast: familiar face Neil Pearson is the demented director Lloyd, grappling with the band of misfits he has to call a cast as well as with Brooke (Thomasin Rand) and Poppy (Danielle Flett) the young starlet and besotted stage manager who he’s having affairs with; Maureen Beattie turns in a fine comic turn as the literally dotty Dotty, who, not to be out-done is having an affair with much younger leading man Garry (an astonishing masterclass of physical comedy from David Bark-Jones). Chris Larkin and Sasha Waddell perfectly encapsulate that particular type of middle-class stage luvvie and Geoffrey Freshwater as doddery old thesp Selsdon Mowbray and Simon Bubb as put-upon Tim round out a stellar cast.

The first act takes a while to warm up but it is the necessary build up to the chaos that follows. The second and third acts are a masterclass in comic acting – eliciting genuine bellows of laughter from the audience.

If it’s belly-laughs you’re after then there’s no better place to get them than here – genuine five star fun.