Tag Archives: Oran Mor

REVIEW: News Hacks – Òran Mór, Glasgow

Political satire may not be dead in Scotland, but it’s demise on the comedy scene has left it in dire need of resuscitation. Producers Karen Townsend and Rikki Brown have applied the defibrillator and delivered News Hacks, a monthly riff on the great, the good and the not so clever making the headlines in Scotland.

No political stone is left unturned and no Scottish political figure of any worth escapes examination. While Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, diminutive Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie and Scottish Lib Dem’s Willie Rennie come in for some cutting comment, it is the SNP and it’s leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, one Fiona Hyslop, who are on the receiving end of the most biting satire.

While the lion’s share of the night is given over to national politics, it spreads its gaze further: Putin’s Russia, TV show Shetland (a highlight of the evening), Lorraine Kelly’s somewhat idiosyncratic interview style (having Ed Sheerin and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in the same segment), local TV news anchor John MacKay and newspaper The National and it’s independence referendum spin on even the most ridiculous subjects, all come under scrutiny.

The sharply observed script is given greater punch by the three hugely talented actors delivering it. Stand up comedian, actor and presenter Des McLean has the requisite comedy chops to pull this off with great aplomb and his accents are (largely) on the nose, hugely experienced actor and comedy veteran Elaine MacKenzie Ellis has the chance to shine with her spot-on take on a wide range of Scottish female worthies, and Scottish national treasure Jimmy Chisholm’s comic timing and ability to get an audience on side, all amount to an absolutely hysterical look at Scotland today and all our quirks.

News Hacks is a hugely welcome addition to the comedy scene: biting, brilliant and about time too for a resuscitation of satire in Scotland.

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub 

The next News Hacks will be at Òran Mór on 20 June 2018 | Image: Contributed

REVIEW: Irit – Òran Mór, Glasgow

Irit Dekel’s life story is almost as colourful as her music. The Tel Aviv native has been an Israeli Army sniper, actress, TV host, film-maker and comedian and is in Glasgow with her three-piece band to showcase her debut solo album Happy.

Her sun-soaked sound transports, instead of sub-zero Scotland, it’s the sound of Parisian pavements, middle eastern rhythms, Astrid Gilberto, Buena Vista Social Club, and a dash of Piaf.

There’s a bite to the lyrics behind the catchy melodies, and Dekel describes some of the life experiences that have influenced the songs, one particularly affecting is based on her military service and the paralysing of her bunk mate in a freak gun accident. That said, the over-riding feeling is one of joy. The rhythms infectious. There’s also an original take on R.E.M.’s Shiny Happy People.

Irit Dekel is offering up something original with this east-west hybrid of influences. An antidote to the grey world outside the doors. Highly recommended.

 

REVIEW: Frances and Ethel – Oran Mor, Glasgow

Performing from the age of two, popping pills supplied by her mother at ten, surviving the scandal of her father’s indiscretions by moving from Michigan to Hollywood where she was signed by MGM at just 13 years old, and a lifetime of criticism about her looks, the sad and sorry private life of screen legend Judy Garland has proven to be fertile theatrical fodder over the years.

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David Cosgrove’s Frances and Ethel takes place in a shabby rehearsal room in New York on the eve of Garland’s legendary 1961 Carnegie Hall concert. With her old pal, pianist Sal, she reminisces on the events that have steered her to this point, chiefly the dysfunctional relationship with the woman she dubbed “the real Wicked Witch of the West”, her steely, ultra-ambitious mother, Ethel.

While Cosgrove’s short, sweet play offers no new insight into Garland’s life, it does win big with the casting of Frances Thorburn as Judy, Thorburn’s voice is eerily evocative of the legendary singer. Dubbed a mini-musical, in Oran Mor’s summer season, the production is rather light on musical numbers, but those it does feature are glorious. An engaging addition to the legend of Judy Garland.

 

REVIEW: Mack the Knife – Oran Mor, Glasgow

The creation of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “play with music” The Threepenny Opera is as dramatic as the ground-breaking work itself. In Morag Fullerton’s hands that story becomes Mack The Knife, an Oran Mor mini musical.

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The journey to stage success was rough, actors walking out in droves, a title changing weekly and a producer desirous of a quick summer season money-spinner. It isn’t until the last-minute addition of a signature tune for amoral antihero Macheath, that finally, it all falls into place. Suffused with the same wit as Fullerton’s previous adaptations of stage/screen classics Casablanca and Sunset Boulevard, it has laughter and tears, humour and pathos in spades.

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The quartet of supremely talented actors, double, triple and quadruple parts and provide the musical accompaniment. The only quibble being Angela Darcy’s less than era-authentic vocals, whilst strong and clear, are a tad too cruise ship for 1920’s Berlin.

For all the humour, Fullerton reminds us of the ultimate fate of the participants. While many manage to escape the Nazi gas chambers, Kurt Gerron, actor, singer, director and original Macheath, isn’t so lucky, coerced into directing a Nazi propaganda film, when he outlives his usefulness his captors transport him to the ultimate death camp, forced to sing his signature song as he is marched to his death at Auschwitz.

Like so many of Fullarton’s works, one can only hope it has a life long after its week at Oran Mor.

Images: Leslie Black

REVIEW: The Pie-Eyed Piper of Hamilton – Oran Mor Summer Pantomime, Glasgow

Proving that pantomime is for all year not just for Christmas, Oran Mor’s latest summer offering is The Pie-Eyed Piper of Hamilton, a familiar tale re-worked for our post-referendum, parliament invading SNP times.

City State is overrun with rats and nothing nor no one can get rid of them, so the straw haired Mayor from the south is forced against all his instincts, to call on the services of a shell-suit wearing permanent inebriate with magical powers from north of the border.

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Cue a clash of cultures and political satire a plenty. There’s double-damery too from Paul James Corrigan as the Piper’s tattoo adorned mammy and the skin-tight lycra clad Mayor’s daughter, and cross dressing from Annie Grace and Kirstin McLean as the Piper and Cyril the Mayor’s right hand man.

As always the cast are on top form but the politicking and the too-frequent and unfunny use of the f-word render this less successful than previous outings, there’s still fun throughout – just don’t take the tinies to see it.

REVIEW: Sunset Boulevard – Oran Mor, Glasgow

Where else could you possibly get to see Gloria Swanson, Billy Wilder, Cecil B. DeMille and William Holden on a cold, wet summer afternoon? Only at Oran Mor and only as part of A Play, A Pie and A Pint.

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Morag Fullerton’s adaptation of Sunset Boulevard is part pastiche, part parody but entirely perfect re-production of the Billy Wilder classic movie. Condensed to an hour, it loses none of the tale’s darkness nor its humour and the clever framing device in which the action takes place is simply genius.

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Knockout performances from the quartet of actors, John Kielty, Juliet Cadzow, Frances Thorburn and Mark McConnell make this an unmissable theatrical experience.  Hopefully this little cracker will have a life beyond lunchtime theatre just as Morag Fullerton’s previous classic movie adaptation Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut did.

Images © Leslie Black

NEWS: GTB features in Herald today

There’s a great article today from The Herald’s Julie McDowall on Oran Mor and the Glasgow theatre scene. I’m delighted to say that GTB was involved and there’s a wee quote from us in the article. Well worth checking out if you are interested or involved in theatre in our city. Find it here: http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts-ents/tv-radio/interview-glasgows-theatrical-crusade-complete-with-a-pie-and-a-pint.1402556399

Oran More image: Leslie Black

REVIEW: The Great Train Race – Oran Mor, Glasgow

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

Writer: Robert Dawson Scott

Director: Rob Jones

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★★

Robert Dawson Scott has spent the last 25 years as a stalwart of the Scottish arts scene: as  journalist; TV producer; founder of the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS); critic and now playwright. The Great Train Race, his first play, produced here for Òran Mór’s Autumn/Winter season, is an ebullient caper based upon the real-life rivalry between the two great north-south rail companies, Caledonian and North British.

It’s 1895 and the battle is on to be the fastest thing on rails between London and Aberdeen. On one side North British, travelling the east coast; with a shorter route, flatter terrain and bigger trains, and on the other Caledonian, travelling the west; with a longer route, undulating hills, but the fastest engines and an even faster attitude on how to win the race.

Dawson Scott’s fact-filled romp manages to be both highly informative as well as hugely entertaining; large on facts but even larger on laughs. It plays well to this west of Scotland audience’s rivalry with its east coast neighbours, so well in fact, that it took no prompting to elicit pantomime boos at the mere mention of the word Edinburgh. The success of the piece though, isn’t solely due the playwright’s fine ear for comedy and knowledge of his audience, but the skill of this hugely accomplished cast.

Joyce Falconer bears the weight of conveying the historical detail of the play, playing as she does the Kinnaber signal box (yes, you read that correctly) and does so with great charm. The script also allows Falconer to showcase her fine skill at storytelling in the Scots tongue. As mild-mannered, North British company man and Cammie’s son, Grant O’Rourke is utterly charming and as west coast engineer Cammie and also Norrie’s wife, Iain Robertson, one of Scotland’s finest dramatic actors, gets to demonstrate his sharply-honed comedy skills. The chemistry and camaraderie between the two actors is a real treat to watch.

The whole piece from writing to performance is shot through with an energy and exuberance that makes for an utterly joyous, escapist afternoon at the theatre. There are genuine belly laughs throughout and a history lesson there too for those who like to learn something new. Thoroughly recommended, catch it if you can.

Touring to the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen from 24th to 28th September

REVIEW: Oran Mor Summer Panto Alice in Poundland

Another trip to Oran Mor and this time it’s the summer pantomime Alice in Poundland.

Alice’s mum is boracic, and she is wandering the aisles of Poundland looking for summer treats. Alice reaches out to grasp a white rabbit keyring and before she knows it she is on the golden escalator to Plunderland – A parallel universe where no one pays 50 pence in the pound tax, and where everything costs the same – a million – but you don’t have to pay for it if you are rich. Travel with Alice and meet Milliedum, Milliedee, The King of Clubs, The Queen of Diamonds, The Fat Cat, The Mad Banker and all your other favourite characters you love to hate.

Featuring Dave Anderson, Juliet Cadzow, George Drennan and Catriona Grozier.

There isn’t a lot to say about this except that it is absolutely, hysterically, mascara running down your face funny and the humour so specific to this Glasgow audience that it didn’t fail to hit the target. Run as fast as you can to get a ticket before it ends on Saturday.

 

NEWS: Critics Circle – A Play A Pie and a Pint Oran Mor

Just back from London and after a hectic morning I sat down to the chore of trawling through the day’s emails and instead of the usual guff there was a little gem from Oran Mor. A few weeks ago I submitted a (very) concise 100 word review (try it!) of the glorious Private Lives and today I found out I’d won the Critics Circle competition for the review. Woo hoo! So I’m off, with a spring in my step, to claim my prize on Monday when I go to see their summer panto Alice in Poundland.

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