Tag Archives: play

REVIEW: An Inspector Calls – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

The popularity of Stephen Daldry’s award-winning 1992 National Theatre production of J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls shows no signs of abating, this 2015 tour marking the 20th time this production has been staged.

Set on a single night in the affluent Birling household, this scathing response to the abhorrent hypocrisy of the lingering Victorian morals that still pervaded Edwardian England, still manages to pack a dramatic punch 70 years on from its first performance.

The Birling family have gathered to celebrate the engagement of daughter Sheila. As the festivities go on inside Ian MacNeil’s teetering dollhouse set, a mysterious figure watches from the rain-soaked, cobbled street below. Revealed to be Inspector Goole, he draws the Birlings out one by one to question them about their involvement with a young woman who has killed herself by drinking a bottle of disinfectant.

As each learns their part in the young woman’s fate, Priestley fully utilises the play to shine a light on the society in which he lived.  A committed socialist, having endured two world wars, caused he believed, by the capitalist disregard for working people and the dysfunction caused by social inequality, we are in no doubt to which side the playwright’s politics lie.

There are many reasons why Priestley’s tale still resonates – the corrosion of a society with a sense of social responsibility and the disparity between the haves and have-nots is as evident today as it was in 1912 when the play is set.

It’s not all doom and gloom, for all the unpalatability of the Birling’s actions, Priestley does provide a glimmer of hope for the future as the young family members reflect on their actions and seemingly change perspective.

Daldry’s innovative, cinematic staging has had its imitators throughout the years and despite its age it remains fresh. What Daldry’s production does successfully is rescue Priestley’s play from being a dusty, drawing room, period piece.

Much of the success of the piece is the central casting of Inspector Goole. Liam Brennan’s extensive stage experience shines through, in his perfect diction and projection, and in a carefully modulated and perfectly pitched performance.

Deserving of the plaudits it has received through the years, it remains a must-see for theatre-lovers.

Runs until Saturday 7 November 2015 | Image: Mark Douet

This review was originally published at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/an-inspector-calls-theatre-royal-glasgow/

REVIEW: Rebecca – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Theatre company Kneehigh breathe new life into Daphne du Maurier’s much-loved novel, Rebecca, managing to capture the chills of the classic psychological thriller, the brooding atmosphere of its Cornish setting, as well as suffusing the source material with a large dose of humour.

Played out on Leslie Travers’ exquisitely rendered, visually stunning set, this fast-paced production successfully conveys a sense of place (the sou’wester clad chorus of fishermen singing seas shanties brilliantly evokes the sights and sounds of the Cornish coast) and thankfully the irreverent antics throughout don’t detract from the moments of high drama nor dispel the gripping, dream-like quality that underlies the production.

Imogen Sage as Mrs de Winter in REBECCA photo by Steve Tanner

So far removed tonally from both the 1938 novel or the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation, those familiar with either may well need time to acclimatise to the artistic choices. However, the moments of innovation do thrill. While it may seem that this classic of English literature has been redrawn as farce – there’s a scene-stealing, crotch obsessed puppet dog, a Wilson, Keppel and Betty sand dance and some Busby Berkeley-type dance interludes, it just all feels right. And when it matters the feeling of foreboding resurfaces and draws you back into this gripping tale.

Imogen Sage as Mrs de Winter in REBECCA photo by Steve Tanner

Emma Rice delivers a sure-footed adaptation and perfectly portrays the second Mrs de Winter’s transformation from timid new bride treading on eggshells, living in the shadow of her late predecessor, to a woman firmly in control of all that surrounds her.

Much of the success of the piece is the effective casting. Kneehigh stalwart Tristan Sturrock is a perfectly judged Maxim as is Imogen Sage as his young bride. There is strong support from Lizzie Winkler and Andy Williams as Maxim’s eccentric sister Bea and her husband Giles and there’s a stand out turn from Katy Owen as servant boy Robert.

For all its eccentricity and irreverence, fans of the original novel as well as those new to the tale will find much to enjoy. Kneehigh’s Rebecca is an original, arresting piece of theatre, miss it if you dare.

Runs until Saturday 7 November 2015 | Images: Steve Tanner

This review was originally published at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/rebecca-kings-theatre-glasgow/

REVIEW: Stags and Hens – East Kilbride Arts Centre

It’s Liverpool. It’s the 70s. It’s a Liverpool where Industry has gone to the dogs and opportunity has taken a very long ferry trip far beyond the Mersey.

Dave and Linda are on their respective stag and hen nights, unbeknownst to each other, in the same place, a trashy, down-at-heel disco in the city.

The action in Willy Russell’s Stags and Hens takes place in the toilets of the dodgy disco, where Linda and her pals and Dave (who spends the play with his head down the toilet) and his mates, ruminate on life, the universe and everything in between.

Russell is a master portrayer of the lives of the ordinary man (and woman); the clothes may be desperately dated, the jokes chronic; “love is blind, marriage is an institution…who wants to live in an institution for the blind?”, but the dialogue is natural, believable and entirely relatable and underneath the surface laughs there is a deeper commentary on working class life, misogyny, opportunity and expectation.

Inspire Theatre’s production of this little-seen play is near-faultless. Under the tight direction of Elaine Berry, the action moves along at a cracking pace and the razor-sharp dialogue hits the mark every time, but what elevates the whole production is the cast. Universally on point throughout, the cast of twelve maintain an impeccable focus and the production is replete with pristine tiny detail, from the girls’ primping and preening to the boys’ posturing, this is a masterclass in acting.

Particularly impressive are Hazel May MacGregor as the bolshy and boisterous Bernadette and Michelle Minto as the hysterical Maureen. To his great credit, Francis Lyons manages to keep the role of violent hothead Eddy completely within the bounds of reality – a role which could so easily have been overplayed and Martin Haddow elicits both laughs and sympathetic awws, as the misfit Billy. That said, this is a perfect example of exemplary ensemble acting.

This is a theatre company to watch out for, small but perfectly formed, bigger companies should take heed – quality wins every time.

 

 

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