Tag Archives: Scott Reid

REVIEW: The Choir – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

An Iraqi cardiac specialist, a teen on a zero hours contract at Sports Direct, a Tory ex-councillor, an unemployed graduate, an ex-con and a struggling single mum are among the 12 people who come together in a community centre in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, in Paul Higgins and Ricky Ross’ new musical The Choir, a collaboration between theatrical giants ATG and the Citizens Theatre to nurture new musical theatre from local writers and composers.

There’s no competition, no race to a prize. Instead, the drama comes from the interactions between this disparate chorus. The seemingly uplifting subject matter is initially turned on its head when instead of the sense of community and togetherness they hope to invoke by their shared love of singing, the sociological and political differences between the group rear their ugly heads. Those who exercise free will provoke those with conventional sensibilities and seemingly simple things offend and outrage. 

the choir citizens theatre

It all gets off to a spine-tingling start as Peter Polycarpou’s Khalid steps centre stage to sing the first of a series of intensely personal songs and the cast as a whole doesn’t disappoint. Glorious sounding en masse, there isn’t a weak link among them and, while it seems churlish to single any out, it is undoubtedly Ryan Fletcher as ex-con Donny and Scott Reid as little cousin Scott, who shine. Fletcher, in particular, is a stand-out, in possession of a glorious voice and a prodigious musical talent, it is for him you root for a happy ending.

the choir 2 citizens theatre

Eschewing the musical theatre convention of bursting into song at will, here the songs arise naturally and realistically from the narrative and are entirely pleasing to the ear, partly due to the seeming familiarity of some of the melodies, with shades of Oasis, The Beach Boys and The Beatles to name a few.

If criticism is to be made it’s that the characterisations are thin in some cases and points are hammered home at times with little subtlety, but the actors’ deft touches manage to imbue it all with real heart and soul and you can’t help caring for them all and willing the whole thing to a happy conclusion.

It’s not exactly groundbreaking (it has at times the same feel and tone as Glen Hansard’s Once), but it has to be applauded for bringing something new to the musical theatre stage, not a film or novel adaptation, not a jukebox musical, instead an original story and songs with entirely relatable subject matter.

As an evening’s entertainment, it may not be perfect but it comes pretty damn close – on the whole it is a thoroughly engaging and utterly irresistible evening’s theatre. The Choir is guaranteed to send you into the crisp autumn air with the cockles of your heart well and truly warmed.

Runs until 14 November 2015 | Image: James Glossop

This review was originally published at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/the-choir-citizens-theatre-glasgow/

REVIEW: The Maids – Citizens Theatre, Glasgow


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

Writer: Jean Genet

Translation: Martin Crimp

Director: Stewart Laing

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★☆

The coupling of the Tony award-winning director and designer Stewart Laing, and master of the avant-garde, Jean Genet, appears to be a match made in heaven. Both are men of unique aesthetic style and vision, and in this production of Genet’s notorious 1947 play, The Maids, it seems the spirit of Genet lives strong in Laing.

Loosely based on the case of the Papin sisters, who scandalised French society in the 1930′s by brutally murdering their mistress and her daughter. Laing adheres to Genet’s original vision, casting the play as he originally intended; with men.

In dressing the three men largely masculinely, with only nods to our notions of how women should be portrayed, he plays with our pre-conceptions. The feminisation takes the form of a jewel here or a dress-like garment there, the actors physical actions retain their maleness. Genet’s play continues to subvert our conceptions: in having men ritualistically and obsessively recreate the maids degrading abuse at the hands of their capricious mistress, the physical threat seems heightened, but perversely loses some of its power. We, the audience, expect men to be violent; we even expect this of the men who are supposed to be playing women.

This is a play of rituals; ceremony and symbolism; of power and submission; obsession and exorcism. It’s stylised, dense and often overwrought dialogue and subject matter go beyond the bounds of realism. But in the hands of Laing and his actors, what it doesn’t do is descend into melodrama, which it so easily could have.

Scott Reid (Solange) and Ross Mann (Claire) compellingly portray the incestuous and lethal power play between the sisters. Mann is especially convincing as the submissive Claire. Samuel Keefe provides a welcome and much needed change of tone as the mercurial Mistress.

The staging is fiercely imaginative: curtains move in mysterious ways; there are projections and disconcerting and seemingly unconnected sound effects; the actors playing electric guitars provide punctuation to the piece with music from the likes of Metallica, David Bowie and The Velvet Underground; there’s even a BBC documentary, but to say any more would rob the piece of its impact.

The play remains as it was intended to be; thought-provoking, challenging, subversive, original, bewildering, vivid, innovative, unpredictable and memorable. Leave your pre-conceptions at the door and get a ticket for the roller-coaster ride.

Runs until: 2 February