Tag Archives: Motherwell College

REVIEWS: 1984 – Cottiers Kelvinbridge, Glasgow

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Originally written in 1948, in 1984 George Orwell envisioned a totalitarian future where love for Big Brother and the State is maintained and controlled at every level, including within the hearts and minds of the people. In this hideous vision of the future (and perhaps disturbing reflection of our present), Motherwell College’s BA (Hons) Acting graduating class present Michael Gene Sullivan’s adaptation of Orwell’s most affecting novel. 

Michael Gene Sullivan’s tightly-crafted, condensed script demonstrates an arresting approach to storytelling, whilst throughout, retaining both the relentless claustrophobia of the original work and its shattering emotional impact.

This was never going to be an easy watch: the subject matter so inexorable, so soul-destroying, so unvarying in tone and indeed so worryingly resonant that the fate of this piece is truly in the hands of the actors. So intense is their focus and so tight their grip on the audience’s emotions that you could hear a pin drop throughout the entirety of the performance and in their thrall we remained from start to finish.

In a clever piece of casting, the small ensemble cast were each allowed to play to their strengths: Ross Watson manages to convey the physical vulnerability and emotional turmoil of Winston Smith in the hands of his captors, however, some of his discourse was lost in his sometimes less than crisp diction; John Rennie skilfully gives life to Winston Smith’s words as the 1st Party Member who re-enacts the captive man’s journey from free-thinker to broken soul; Steve Lauder-Russell delivers a well-judged performance as the earnest 3rd Party Member – retaining an intense focus throughout; Colin McGowan is sure-footed as the 4th Party Member – his performance allowing him to showcase a range of characterful voices and allowing us a glimpse of the life beneath the soulless party member. Making an impact were Rachael Logan-Stott and Jordan O’Hara. Logan-Stott’s unerring focus never falters – her intensity as both the 2nd Party Member and Julia is disturbingly compelling. O’Hara does much with a small role – he is a powerful presence on stage – demanding the audience’s full attention in his hugely accomplished, assured and authoritative depiction of O’Brien.

Sparsely but effectively staged (with functional props that were more than likely gathered from whatever source the company could find), it did however add an effective timeless quality to the piece.

Again credit must go to the brave artistic choice – each of the three pieces on show here at Cottiers in Glasgow have a particular relevance and resonance to this place and time. And credit of course to this fine cast who promise much for the future of Scottish acting.

Ticket details here

REVIEW: The Boys in the Photograph – Cottiers Kelvinbridge, Glasgow

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The Boys in the Photograph is a reworking of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton musical The Beautiful Game,set in the troubled Northern Ireland of 1969. The musical is the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation and follows the fortunes of a group of teenagers, all members of a local football team, and their friends.

Under the watchful eye of team coach Father O’Donnell, John and Del both show enough promise to pursue careers as professional footballers. When they find love they become swept up in the events that engulf their community and, as time passes, each has to decide whether or not to follow their hearts.

A show about the northern Irish troubles isn’t the likely choice for a musical, nor a typical subject for your average evening’s entertainment but that is exactly what The Boys in the Photograph is – and boy does it pack an emotional punch.

Unlike its short-lived existence on the West End stage, this production, here in Glasgow by Motherwell College’s BA(Hons) Musical Theatre graduating class, has found a home and an audience with whom its themes of sectarianism and bigotry still resonate.

This is a clever choice of material to showcase the talents of the actors, avoiding the well-worn classic fare as well as the recent preponderance of Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown productions, allowing as it does the opportunity for powerful and highly emotive acting as well as strong vocal skills. Packed with memorable and vibrant songs from heart-rending ballads to stirring Irish anthems, it would be a hard heart indeed who failed to be moved this piece.

The show benefits from a strong ensemble that deserves credit for effectively supporting the central cast. In the pivotal role of John Kelly, Martin Murphy not only delivers a perfectly judged performance of powerful emotion but also demonstrates fine vocal talent. As Mary, Fiona Harris subtly travels the path from spirited anti-violence protestor to dispirited wife and Bobby Weston turns in a highly-charged performance as Thomas, the classic angry young man blinded by a cause. Credit must also go to Steven Dalziel who deftly handles the only moments of comic relief as the tragic Ginger and the strong-voiced Gill Beattie as Christine.

The spare staging and costume design, also deserve mention, allowing the focus to be firmly on the cast, yet perfectly conveying a sense of place and time. 

I can’t overstate how powerfully this material speaks to its audience or the quality of this cast – the audience remained transfixed from start to finish. This is an arresting tale, expertly realised and richly deserving acclaim – leaving a lasting impression long after the final note has rung out. Hopefully this won’t be the last we see of this musical or this fine cast.

 

 

 

REVIEW: The House of Bernarda Alba – Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow

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It’s heartening to know that the future of Scottish acting is in safe hands. This production of Scottish playwright Rona Munro’s adaptation of Federico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba is the perfect showcase for the nine young actors in this final performance for Motherwell College’s BA Acting degree.

Originally set in Andalusia, Munro’s resetting of the play to the East End of Glasgow has retained Lorca’s central story but added a vividly familiar depiction of  the female members of a crime family in the aftermath of a murder. The play ramps up the claustrophobic atmosphere as mother Bernie tightens her stranglehold grip on her daughters as she tries to retain a tenuous hold on both them and her hard-won lifestyle.

Munro plays upon the exclusion of male characters from the action: slowly and climatically building up the tension as the women remain trapped together, the feelings of repression, the unrequited passion and displays mental fragility are all acutely displayed.

As head of the household Bernie (a role written large by Munro), Dawn Chandler manages to rein in a character who could so easily have descended into parody, to deliver a performance which wrings every drop of venom from every line as the formidable she-wolf slowly consuming her cubs.

The interactions of the sisters perfectly reflect the often brutal but ultimately loving relationships that exist between siblings. That said, some are more successful than others: Noemi McShane delivers a nicely nuanced performance as the mentally fragile Marty but her child-like looks render her slightly miscast as the older sister of flighty youngest Adie. As Adie, Christie Brown manages to perfectly convey those particularly annoying “in your face” traits of idealistic teenagers who think they know everything about love and are willing to do anything in its pursuit. Lauren Daley turns in a convincing, naturalistic performance as both the put-upon care-worker and pensioner family friend. Credit must also go to MJ Deans as Bernie’s long-term friend/employee Penny – capturing that West of Scotland former good-time girl teetering on the tightrope wire of a friendship on which her livelihood depends with aplomb.

These young women give hope for the future of Scottish theatre and I personally look forward to following their careers with interest.

INTRODUCING NEW SCOTTISH TALENT: Lauren Daley

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  • One thing Scotland can be truly proud of is the wealth of acting talent at the highest level. One of its newest shining stars is Airdrie’s  Lauren Daley. Lauren is currently training for her BA(Hons) Acting at Motherwell College, and as she approaches graduation and the all-important Agent Showcases in London and Glasgow, I am delighted to announce that she will be writing a column for Glasgow Theatre Blog. Lauren’s column will provide a unique insight into the realities of life as a young performer and the sheer hard work, dedication and effort that it requires. The column will be essential reading for any aspiring acting student or the theatre-lover looking for an insiders view of the profession.

    In anticipation of the first column, I’ll hand over to Lauren to introduce herself:

    “Performance has always been a massive part of my life. I think it all started when I got a microphone stand from Santa when I was about three and I took it upon myself (roping in my big sister) to provide the entertainment over the course of the rest of the festivities, and then all year round.

    My parents have really influenced me as they have always been very fond of the theatre, taking me to plays, pantomimes and musicals all over the world. I remember sitting in the audience at “Grease” when I was very young thinking “I want to be on the stage when I grow up” and this has been my philosophy ever since.

    I was very lucky to have attended a small primary school in Airdrie who loved performing arts and putting on a good show. This only encouraged me further as I joined drama classes and dance classes in my spare time. When I got to high school, my love for the theatre and performing was very much embedded in me and I knew that it was all I wanted to do. I have never been able to picture myself in an office or a 9 to 5 job. At high school, my passion was nurtured by my wonderful drama teacher Daun Ferguson, who taught me for all of my six years at Airdrie Academy from first year right through to Advanced Higher Drama.

    I always knew that when I left school I wanted to apply to drama school but the question was which one? In sixth year I found out about the Acting and Performance course at Motherwell College and I was keen to find out more. I applied and was asked along to audition, and as soon as I walked in on that April morning, I knew that this was where I wanted to train. I started Motherwell College a year after the new building opened, which was probably a big part of my decision making to go there. The classrooms were all custom built with a great studio space kitted out with mirrors, lights and tiered seating. I then discovered the dance studios and knew that this was the place for me. Finding out that Motherwell College run the BA (Hons) Acting course was also a massive plus. Although you need to audition each year to progress through the course, I knew that it was a challenge I had to set myself and luckily was accepted into the course this year straight after my HND.

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    The training I have received at Motherwell is first class. From every day classes, to shows and workshops, the opportunities provided are incredible. I have also been extremely lucky to have been taught by teachers who have trained in Estill voice training. This has been massively beneficial for me as it has really allowed my voice to become an instrument that I can understand and adapt depending on characters I am playing. Estill was something new and extremely different to anything I had done before as it really teaches you how to use your voice safely and effectively, by understanding how the voice works. This knowledge will stand me in good stead for future performances and it has made me much more versatile as an actor. As the degree course at Motherwell is affiliated by Northumbria University, we had the opportunity to perform in Newcastle in November which was absolutely brilliant.

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    I am now looking forward to our Agent Showcase in Glasgow and London in March and also our final production in May. I am excited to get out into the industry despite it being well known as a difficult industry to crack, as this is what I have worked for my whole life.”

    All images courtesy laurendaley.net