Tag Archives: Michael Taylor

REVIEW: An Officer and a Gentleman The Musical – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Another day, yet another iconic 80s movie is adapted as a stage musical. This adaptation of An Officer and a Gentleman by Douglas Day Stewart (with Sharleen Cooper Cohen) of his own original 1982 screenplay, is a cheesy, overblown but ultimately likeable production with a plethora of hits of the decade.

For those unaware of the original source material, An Officer and a Gentleman follows the story of a group of new recruits at the United States Naval Aviation Training Facility in Pensacola, Florida, and the band of local factory women who strive to hook one of these would-be officers in an attempt to escape the drudgery of their dead-end jobs. Principal among them is the relationship between troubled Navy brat Zack (Jonny Fines) and “townie” Paula (Emma Williams). Oh, joy, another story where a man has to ‘rescue’ a woman in order to give her a better life, I hear you cry, and while hackles may rise in 2018, it just about gets away with it due to its early 80s setting and the corniness with which it’s delivered.

The action takes place on a dull but functional set by Michael Taylor. The colours, drab blues, brown and greys are evocative of the workers situation and the Naval Base but, are a trifle uninspiring to the eye. It does however change smoothly, quickly and effectively between the many locations in the story.

The whole score could be a Now That’s What I Call The 80s album and there are some stomping anthems: Livin’ on a Prayer (given the volume it deserves), Alone and I Want to Know What Love Is and a corking version of We Don’t Cry Out Loud from Williams and Rachel Stanley as her mother Esther, but, there are some baffling arrangements that are less easy on the ear: Heart of Glass and a caterwauling Kids in America to name two.

The greatest asset of the production is its actors, there are some knock-out performances from a refreshingly representative cast in age, gender and race. There are no weak links, veteran Ray Shell is highly effective as Drill Sgt Foley, and the central quartet of Williams and Fines as Paula and Zack and Ian McIntosh (who delivers an emotive performance and has a beautiful voice) as Sid and Jessica Daley as the hard-hearted Lynette are all excellent.

This is not going to challenge your intellect but, was never intended to. It is a piece of easy escapism that will entertain both fans of the film and those new to the story.

Runs until 15 September 2018 | Image: Manuel Harlan

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Peter James’ Dead Simple – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

There’s something satisfying about a good old theatrical thriller that drags you to the edge of your seat and keeps you there until the curtain falls. And that’s what Shaun McKenna achieves in his second adaptation of a Peter James crime novel: following on the heels of last year’s audience pleaser A Perfect Murder this time it’s Dead Simple.

Beginning with a stag night prank gone horribly wrong, property developer Michael Harris finds himself buried six feet under in a remote forest, the only people who know his whereabouts, dead in a car crash. What follows are dodgy dealings, a trawler full of red herrings and a plot that leads you up more garden paths than the Chelsea Flower Show.

The cast of well-known TV faces on the whole serve up solid performances, stand out among them Josh Brown’s well-measured turn as Davey a young man with learning difficulties and an obsession for US TV cop shows, a young man whose tenuous link to reality could mean life or death for Harris, and Gray O’Brien as our slightly less than by-the-book hero Det. Supt. Roy Grace.

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Michael Taylor’s multi-level set design, Mark Howett’s lighting and Martin Hodgson’s sound design give the production a televisual feel and serve to crank up the suspense.

Whilst it’s undeniably entertaining and thoroughly engaging, the plot tests the bounds of credibility: no sooner has one suspect been exposed than another looms centre-stage, it also doesn’t stand up to more than the briefest surface scrutiny. The characterisations too, are bordering on two-dimensional and the dialogue is simplistic and at times a tad clunky. However, for all its faults it still serves up a shed-load of surprises and manages to hugely entertain. A theatrical thrill ride that’s well worth watching.

Runs until Sat 23 May at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow

This article was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/peter-james-dead-simple-theatre-royal-glasgow/