Tag Archives: Pitlochry Festival Theatre

REVIEW: Communicating Doors by Alan Ayckbourn, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

This was meant to be The 39 Steps – however due to the indisposition of one of the actors due to an eye injury ( I’d like to imagine the understudy punched him to get the lead role) this was, at the last minute, switched to Alan Ayckbourn’s time travelling comedy drama Communicating Doors.

Three women. One hotel suite. In 1992, one is on her honeymoon night. In 2012, one is about to be murdered. In 2032, one discovers that a communicating door holds the key to all their destinies . . .

When Poopay, a self-styled ‘Specialist Sexual Consultant’, is summoned to a five star hotel, it transpires that her elderly client isn’t interested in her usual services. Instead, the conscience-stricken Reece wants her to witness his dying confession: that many years before, he employed his business associate, Julian, to murder his two wives.

When he learns of the confession, the deranged Julian decides that Poopay must be silenced permanently. Terrified, Poopay flees through the communicating door, only to find that it leads not into an adjacent room, but back into the same suite . . . twenty years before on the very night that wife number two is about to die.

This reviewer has a chequered history with Ayckbourn’s plays. His output is often very much of its time and revivals of his work often seem badly dated.  After an over-long set up this however turned into an absorbing evening’s entertainment with deft acting and storytelling keeping the story arc cohesive and engaging.

On the down side, one point of weakness is the staging: the setting here is 1992 and the 2012 of the play is the future. Possibly due to a slightly outdated set decoration (the actual design which incorporated the time-travelling door was cleverly done) but without significant decorative differences across the years this wasn’t conveyed as well as it could have been. For Pitlochry this is a surprise as it’s usually known for phenomenally inventive set design.

This Ayckbourn play has fared better than most and provides as many laughs as suspenseful moments. Worth a visit.

Runs until 11th October – Pitlochry Festival Theatre details here

REVIEW: Little Shop of Horrors – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

“Business is so bad at his Skid Row Florists that Mr. Mushnik is considering throwing in the trowel, but just when it seems that the roses are destined for the garbage, Mushnik’s accident-prone assistant, Seymour, discovers a strange and exotic new plant. Seymour names his discovery Audrey Two, but Audrey Two is no ordinary shrub, it grows at a phenomenal rate thanks to a rather unusual diet, oh, and it has plans for world domination. Only Seymour knows Audrey Two’s terrible secrets and he’s prepared to risk everything for a shot at fame, fortune and true love.”

Once again, apologies for tardy posting, I saw this a few weeks ago.

Following on from last year’s success My Fair Lady, Pitlochry Festival Theatre present Little Shop of Horrors. Taking as its starting point classic 50s B-Movies, this comedy-horror musical is ably performed by a 14-strong cast who take on all of the roles as well as the orchestral duties. 

Deserving of praise are Charlie Tighe in the central role of Seymour, who takes tortured geek to a whole new level and Elliot Harper (above centre) who, amongst a series of roles, delivers a lesson in how to pitch an over the top role perfectly. Kate Quinnell (below), last year’s Eliza Doolittle turns in another accomplished performance, singing, dancing, playing the clarinet and acting with aplomb. Special mention must go to Dan Smith as the voice of Audrey, who had to step in to cover with minimal notice – so adept was the performance that you would never have believed he was anything other than the originator of the role. 

My only concern with this, as it was with last year’s musical show at Pitlochry, was that the vocals and music were seriously under-powered. It may be the fault of the amplification or the fact that the actors had to double up as musicians but it all needed a little more oomph. The quality was there it was just lacking in volume. That said, the sets, costumes and the fabulous animated plant Audrey were first class and there were laughs a-plenty to keep everyone entertained.

Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Port Na Craig, Pitlochry, runs until October 13

Author:  Howard Ashman

Music: Alan Menken

Director: John Durnin

REVIEW: Henceforward – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

It’s sometime quite soon . . .

Jerome is a serious avant-garde composer. He`s written string quartets, a ‘cello sonata. Unfortunately, he`s best known for the soundtrack of the infamous Singing Babies TV commercial . . .

Even worse, ever since his bank manager wife Corinna left him, taking their daughter with her, Jerome has suffered from creative block. Locked inside his fortress flat, he now lives surrounded by TV screens, computers and synthesizers, with just one companion: NAN 300F, a robot nanny who seems almost human, despite being perpetually on the blink. Well, the manufacturer did have to withdraw the entire range after that ‘unfortunate incident’ . . .

Desperate to gain custody of his daughter, but knowing that this unconventional lifestyle is unlikely to endear him to the Department of Child Wellbeing, Jerome hires out-of-work actress Zoë to pose as his fiancée and play happy families for the benefit of Mervyn Bickerdyke, the Child Welfare Officer.

But things with Zoë go horribly wrong – just as Mervyn and Corinna are on their way to examine Jerome’s stable new home environment – and Jerome is forced to improvise. You know, it’s amazing what you can do with a robot, a few micro-chips and a screwdriver . . .

Alan Ayckbourn’s play unfortunately doesn’t stand up to the ravages of time and has dated – badly. It’s not helped by the fact the central character, though well enough acted, had no redeeming features. Ultimately it all left me a little bit cold.

REVIEW: My Fair Lady – Pitlochry Festival Theatre

1910: on a cold March evening in Covent Garden, the overbearing Henry Higgins, a Professor of Phonetics, encounters a young flower seller, Eliza Doolittle. Whilst appalled by Eliza’s strangled vowels and missing consonants, Higgins opines that it is only her mangled English and coarse manners that separate her from the so-called Upper Classes…

And so results an outrageous wager between Higgins and the amiable Colonel Pickering: in just six months, Higgins promises to transform Eliza so completely that she will pass for a Duchess at the lavish Embassy Ball. But Eliza’s gradual metamorphosis under Higgins’s relentless tutelage comes at a terrible price.

Too eloquent for a flower girl, yet without the breeding and education of the aristocracy, what will become of her when the wager is over? Lerner and Loewe`s bewitching tale of a flower girl’s transformation into the toast of London society is one of the greatest musicals of all time.

Featuring unforgettable songs such as I Could Have Danced All Night, On The Street Where You Live, Get Me To The Church On Time and many others. This musical is always a joy and this production at Pitlochry Festival Theatre with actor/musicians was no different. Just luvverly!