Tag Archives: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

REVIEW: Edinburgh Fringe – Towards The Moon, C Venue C

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

Book, Music and Lyrics: Andrew McGregor

Director: Michael Howell

Musical Director: Lindsey Miller

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

Who would have thought that the less than glamorous Scottish port town of Greenock would be the setting for a musical? But hey, this is the Edinburgh Fringe and as we know, anything’s possible here.

Bobby (Ryan Paterson) is a 24 year old dreamer, desperate to be a writer but fed up with his humdrum life – no job, no girlfriend and no pals. But his luck changes after a near-death experience when an angel appears offering him the chance to turn his life around, finally achieve his dreams and reach the moon – but at a price.

Towards the Moon is a brand new show from Andrew McGregor, one of a group of musical writers emerging from Scotland. New it may be, but the Faustian pact is as old as time, McGregor manages to keep it fresh by making our anti-hero an ordinary Joe and updating the setting to the present day. The piece wears its Scottish influences on its sleeve and anyone who has seen a Bill Forsyth movie will spot the parallels.

It is very much a work in progress: the storyline is simplistic and the music needs work to give the performance some variation in tone, but real potential is there. The skill of the performers also helps to energise the piece: Paterson breathes life into the character of Bobby and is helped by an appealing performance from Kylie McMahon as best pal Mags.

Despite the flaws, it’s a positive start from writer McGregor. There’s real warmth and charm here and it’s certainly a chance to see the beginning of successful careers for the actors who are the cement that holds this show together. Again the Royal Conservatoire prove that a quality performance is assured where you see their name.

Runs until 26th August

REVIEW: Company – Edinburgh Fringe C Venue C

Book: George Furth

Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim

Director: Dominic Hill

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★½

Bobby is 35 and in the opinion of his friends and multiple girlfriends it’s high time he settled down. As he watches the couples around him disintegrate, the single guy wonders: Is this worth giving up my life for?

One Academy, the production arm of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, take on Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning look at relationships in Company, bringing a freshness and life to this classic.

As Bobby analyses his way through the relationships in his life, this highly polished company remind us why Sondheim is hailed as a genius, and the Conservatoire lauded for producing the best new talent. The quality and class of this production just shines through: they deliver a sound of richness and depth that does full justice to the multi-layered music that defines Sondheim. As Bobby, Douglas Walker gets to play one of the most iconic roles in musical theatre and does so with believable emotion, but this isn’t a one man show, this soul-searching piece is brimming with witty and sharply written songs which give the rest of the cast ample opportunity to shine and they do, in particular Kylie McMahon who gets to deliver the show-stopping ‘Getting Married Today’.

Where the production falls down is the set and costumes don’t represent the upper middle class New Yorkers that Sondheim wrote this piece for, but his message is still loud and clear: life is a journey to find what’s right for you, not what others want for you.

There’s so much here to delight, there’s never a dull moment musically, it’s brilliantly written and this cast is absolutely teeming with talent and despite being written in 1970 it’s as fresh and relevant as the day it was written.

A must-see production.

Runs until 27th August

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

REVIEW: Eight – The Tron Theatre 12th June 2012

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews


Writer: Ella Hickson

Director: Mark Stevenson

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

What defines a generation characterised by its apathy? That’s the question Ella Hickson attempts to answer in Eight, her multi award-winning 2008 play, presented by NewUpNorth-Scotland with students from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

It is in turn, a cynical, depressing, hysterical and touching portrayal of the realities of life as a twenty-something in contemporary Britain. Presented as a series of eight monologues over two acts, this play finds Hickson attempting to: “tackle the negative reputation my generation have earned.”

When originally presented at the Edinburgh Fringe the audience voted for the four stories they most wanted to see based upon short character profiles. If that device had been employed here it would have denied us the privilege of seeing the fine acting of some of the young cast.

The most affecting of the eight monologues is delivered by Scarlett Mack as Bobby: a wholly believable portrayal of a struggling, single mother’s attempts to create the illusion of a perfect Christmas for her sink estate kids, and the most resonant by Maria Teresa Creasey as the quirky Astrid, whose perfectly pitched speech on infidelity: “to stay or go, to tell or no,” strikes a chord with the captivated audience.

Of the others: Alasdair James McLaughlin convincingly delivers as Miles, a high living and earning American stockbroker and survivor of the 7/7 bombings whose current, hedonistic lifestyle has given him cause to stop and re-assess. McLaughlin successfully portrays the character’s turmoil and journey to an escape. Umar Pasha, as art dealer André plays his role with a casual insouciance that belies the tragedy of the fact he is waiting for the paramedics to arrive after his boyfriend has just hanged himself with a Hermés scarf and Chris Donald overcomes poor material as ex-squaddie Danny who makes friends in morgues, with a subtly nuanced performance.

Sarah Higgins as Millie provides the evenings light relief as a prostitute who reads Betjeman to her very particular clientele, British men who still yearn for: “cricket on warm afternoons, cardigans and Pimm’s.” She is probably the least contemplative of all the characters and as a result the most self-aware and Riley Lynch makes the best of a clichéd script to deliver a slightly nervous turn as infatuated teenager Jude.

Alexandra Birchfield has the misfortune to deliver the most pretentious of the monologues as Mona, a troubled young woman running away from her bohemian mother and a life with no boundaries. The heavy-handed symbolism and uneven prose make this a hard watch; Birchfield however, makes the best of the material she has to work with.

Hickson clearly has an ear for dialogue and her finger on the pulse of young Britain, but as it is, this is a piece of varied quality – what it shows though, is fantastic potential for the future of British drama and for these young actors the future looks bright indeed.



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