Tag Archives: Natalie Clark

REVIEW: The Browning Version – Rapture Bites – EK Arts Centre, East Kilbride

Second up in the inventively curated Rapture Bites season is Terence Rattigan’s 1948 classic, The Browning Version. Almost always guaranteed to wring a tear from even those with the hardest of hearts, it again proves so today at a packed East Kilbride Arts Centre.

Dubbed “the crock” by his students and despised for his unyielding manner and humourlessness (unlike his unfaithful, younger wife), it’s the last day of work at an un-named English public school for Classics teacher Andrew Crocker-Harris (the Himmler of the Lower Fifth) before moving to a new post. It takes a gift from one of his pupils, to prompt him to reflect on his past, look to what his future may be, and think deeply how he is going to end his tenure at the school where he has spent the best part of his life.

Rattigan’s 70 year-old play speaks to us down through the decades, dealing as it does with universal themes: our increasing feelings of uselessness as we age, the guilt of remaining in a marriage of unequal emotion, the consequence of our decisions in early life, the regret at potential unfulfilled. Michael Emans’ again demonstrates his sure hand at the helm of the production. Every subtle nuance is coaxed out of every beautifully written line. 

This is one of the most exquisitely acted productions I’ve seen in a very long time, rarely have I seen such a perfectly cast and performed piece. Robin Kingsland is a beautifully judged Crocker-Harris (I defy you not to have a glimmer of a tear in your eye near the end) as is Paul Albertson as Hunter who despite being Crocker-Harris’ wife’s lover, shows the most compassion towards him at the end. Michael Mackenzie does a fine job of demonstrating Head Master, Dr. Frobisher’s crushing insensitivity towards the departing master, but, it is Dylan Blore as schoolboy Taplow who turns in an utterly scene-stealing performance. 

Rightly regarded as a 70-minute masterpiece, this production from Rapture Theatre is as close to perfection as you are likely to see on any stage – truly out-standing and proves that sometimes an anti-climax is the most perfect way to end.

 

REVIEW: Waiting For Gabriel – East Kilbride Arts Centre

Theatre Company Running Late have written and produced a real Christmas cracker of a show at East Kilbride Arts Centre this Festive Season.

It’s Christmas Eve and a group of strangers who were once friends wait for Gabriel. A vacancy has opened up so if they want that promotion, they’ll  have to impress him. They’ve each been waiting 2000 years, have plenty of work experience and the right skills for the job so they really shouldn’t let a little friendly rivalry distract them before he arrives.

Through its comedy and the unfolding competition that ensues as Loreli (Ailsa Courtney), Cassiel (Samantha Toyer-Wright), Ariel (Natalie Clark) and Tobias (Allan Gilmour) each vie for Gabriel’s attention, it prompts us to look at how seemingly random acts of kindness come along when we need them most, how do so-called miraculous feats of human strength and endurance happen when all hope is gone. Is it because of angels? And what about these angels? What happens when their faith and hope are tested?  Is it worth carrying on? Waiting for Gabriel is an original work that, though sprinkled throughout with gentle humour, (and some top-notch singing from Allan Gilmour) eventually takes us to a place that makes us ask some pretty big questions. To its credit it does it in the gentlest, most entertaining way.

Susan Arbuckle’s set is atmospherically dressed and there are some neat visual effects and director Lorna Gold steers the events along at a admirable pace.

Much of the success of the piece is due to its talented cast who perfectly deliver their own script. There’s a surety with the material and a conviction in what they are delivering. Running Late Theatre Company look set to be a company to watch. I look forward to seeing what’s next.