Television journalist James Highwood has made his career out of challenging the British justice system in his documentary programmes. Now, suddenly, it is Highwood himself who is challenged when he is brought to court on a charge of murder.
Olivier and Tony Award winner Tom Conti is one of the UK’s most familiar actors, so it’s no surprise that he turns in another accomplished performance in Terence Frisby’s courtroom drama Rough Justice.
The premise of this play is an interesting and intriguing one, raising as it does a thorny and divisive moral issue regarding the murder of a severely handicapped baby.
For the most part the play manages to engage and absorb the audience, but would benefit greatly from tighter dialogue and delivery. The horrific (un-amplified) acoustics of the Theatre Royal Glasgow swallow up much of the wordy discourse and several of the actors were rendered inaudible by their choice of delivery. One member of the cast also appeared to be reading his lines wholly from the script in front of him, something which could have been better disguised due to the nature of his role.
That said there are some fine performances here, in particular Elizabeth Payne as barrister Margaret Casey and David Michaels as solicitor Jeremy Ackroyd.
With the first night blips ironed out and the delivery tightened this has the potential be an absorbing night out in the theatre. The after curtain-call opportunity to be the jury is in itself an interesting eye-opener into the views of the populace on the moral issue at the play’s heart.
Runs until Saturday at Theatre Royal Glasgow
Telephone: 0844 871 7647
As any Agatha Christie fan knows, the casting of comic actress Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple in the light-hearted George Pollock MGM series was widely reported by Mrs. Christie to be a grievous mistake. So unhappy was she with the whole situation, and in order to protect the reputation of her precious creation, she made frequent visits to the set to check on proceedings.
This play, set in Rutherford’s dressing room on location of the first film Murder She Said, centres around the ever-present Mrs. Christie and the rather more interesting story of Rutherford’s real life.
In one hour we touch on; mental illness; childhood trauma; murder and suicide, as well as Rutherford’s rather interesting relationships with those close to her.
Janet Prince assumes all the roles in the intimate setting of the Gilded Balloon Teviot’s Wee Room. Wee it is indeed, and the enjoyment of the experience is enhanced by the feeling that we have been personally invited into Rutherford’s dressing room to hear her recount her tales.
Prince retains focus throughout and the sometimes shocking revelations keep the interest levels up in this hour long show. I wouldn’t advise anyone without knowledge of Rutherford or Christie to go along as the main enjoyment is the feeling that you are finding out secrets you never knew about a familiar friend but well worth a viewing if you are a fan.
Runs until 27th August
“I am a man, More sinn’d against than sinning”
“The ageing King decides to step down from the throne and divide his estate between his three daughters. Deceived by false promises and rejecting his one faithful daughter, Lear’s former kingdom spirals into chaos as he is driven to madness by the cruel treatment of his own family.”
This intense exploration of the human condition is the focal point of Artistic Director Dominic Hill’s inaugural season. Celebrated Glasgow actor David Hayman, returns to the Citizens in the title role, 33 years after his last appearance here. He is joined by a cast of familiar faces including; George Costigan (Calendar Girls, Shirley Valentine & Rita Sue and Bob Too) as Gloucester: Paul Higgins (The Thick of It) as Kent and Cal Macaninch (Downton Abbey & Wild at Heart) as Cornwall.
After a 33 year absence from his “creative home” David Hayman returns to The Citizen’s Theatre and delivers a truly sublime performance: a performance that will doubtlessly be remembered for many years.
He begins this theatrical tour de force by striding imperiously across the stage, Cossack hat on head, to dispense his kingdom with arrogant zeal amongst his three daughters and then proceeds to take us on a journey which sees him end as a physically shrunken, anguished, remorseful shell of a man.
In the wake of Hayman’s truly inspiring performance it would be easy to overlook the rest of the cast. However, from George Costigan’s heart-breaking turn as Gloucester (seen below with Hayman),
Kieran Hill as the double crossing Edmund (below centre),
to Paul Higgins’ strong performance as the loyal Kent (below left), they more than hold their own.
This is a re-imagined Lear, placed smack-bang in our recession-hit times.
Olivier award winner Tom Piper, who designed the set, recently worked on Kevin Spacey & Sam Mendes’ Richard III for the Old Vic, (which I had the privilege to see), and the design is similar in many ways. It evokes the same bleak historical-modernist feeling. Lighting design is by Ben Ormerod.
Now when I heard that an original soundscape, performed live on custom-made instruments, was being created for the production my heart sank, However, Paddy Cuneen has actually enhanced the performance with a series of atmospheric and unobtrusive sounds.
There were a few downsides, Ewan Donald as Edgar and Shauna MacDonald as Regan both had appalling diction especially Donald who at times was utterly unintelligible, even from the third row. However this is a King Lear that would stand up against anything you could possibly see at the Globe or the RSC and the queues around the block for tickets (as seen below) show what an appetite we have here in Scotland for Shakespeare. Artistic directors take note.
all pictures from Citizens Theatre and Citizens Theatre Flickr
War Horse is based on the novel by the former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo.
It tells the story of the First World War through the eyes of a horse, Joey, who is sold to the cavalry division, shipped off to France, serves first on the British and then, after being captured, on the German sides before ending up wounded and wandering in no-man’s land.
But Joey is pursued by his young master, Albert, who enlists at the age of 16 with the express purpose of finding his beloved horse amid the carnage of the trenches.
Quite frankly of all the possible children’s novels to stage – this one, due to its scope and storytelling, looked the least likely. How on earth do you put a life-size horse on stage, and make it the most important character in the show, believable?
Well you do it by making Joey and the other horses in the show truly magnificent creations by the Handspring Puppet Company. Their wooden framework, translucent fabric skins, and extraordinary mobility somehow capture the very essence of the horse.
This is much more than just a puppet show. Nick Stafford’s powerful adaptation of Morpurgo’s novel, ditches the horse’s narrative and tells the story through the human characters. It brilliantly captures the intense relationship that can exist between humans and animals and the waste and terror of the First World War.The sight of horses and sword-wielding soldiers charging across no-man’s land into great blasts of machine gun fire encapsulates the futility of the conflict.
And though it might seem sentimental to conjure the suffering of war through the agonies of poor animals, it somehow doesn’t feel like that. There is something so noble about these astonishingly lifelike puppets, whose movements are so meticulously caught by their operatives.
The play is engaging and emotional from start to finish and is beautifully performed by the entire cast. The narrative is film like and it is no wonder that it made its way onto the big screen. The moving music, sung by folk singer Bob Fox, gives the play a cinematic feel as well as evoking the time and place beautifully. It also builds an atmosphere and stirs emotions in a way that should be envied by many musicals. The sound design also adds to the realism. My only bugbear was that some of the dialogue was not amplified enough and got lost in the circular auditorium of The New London Theatre (I was in the stalls so I don’t know how it was from further up).
All things said, this stands out as a fantastically imaginative play and a real theatrical event. I can’t recommend it highly enough.