Tag Archives: The Bridge

REVIEW: Ricky McWhittington – Platform, Easterhouse, Glasgow

Senga McWhittington presides over the Oldie Weegie Sweetie Shoppie in dear old Glasgow town, but her son Ricky has different ambitions – he’s set to head to the bright lights of the big city. When Senga’s shop becomes over-run with vermine, all under the control of the stinky Queen Rat, Senga needs her boy back to help save the day. Helped by Fairy Gallus Alice and a cast of colourful pals, will the shop be saved, will Ricky fulfil his destiny and will Senga get her man? That’s the story of Ricky McWhittington, this year’s festive offering from Platform.

Every panto trope is here: the goodies and the baddies to cheer and hiss and boo; the rhyming dialogue; the fantastically clad panto dame ready to harass some unsuspecting (male) audience members; a young couple falling in love, some up-beat pop numbers to dance to, and the traditional ‘cloot’ so we can sing along together at the end.

This is a panto full of charm and heart and perfectly pitched to its young, local audience. The cast are universally excellent, the acting so good, the tiny audience members know exactly who to boo and hiss for from the start, and hearteningly the girls kick ass and can stand their ground against any foe.

This is a panto who knows its audience well – both child and adult friendly, the audience is fully engaged from start to end. An absolute charmer from a fantastic cast, in a wonderful theatre with the friendliest and most welcoming staff in the city.

Tickets are almost sold out, so be fast, details here: http://www.platform-online.co.uk/whats-on/event/392/

 

REVIEW: Love Song To Lavender Menace – Platform, Glasgow

It’s easy to forget about Section 28 and it’s ramifications, living life closeted in the shadows, the Gay scene largely, if not entirely underground, the height of the AIDS crisis and the fact that homosexuality was illegal in Scotland until 1980. While things aren’t exactly perfect now, a lot has changed.

James Ley hadn’t even heard of Lavender Menace, the Edinburgh LGBT bookshop founded by Bob Orr and Sigrid Nielson, that existed from 1982 to 1986, when he won a LGBT History Month Cultural Comission to write a new play.

But that is exactly the subject matter of his celebratory play, Love Song to Lavender Menace.

Bookshop workers Lewis (Pierce Reid) and Glen (Matthew McVarish) spend the last night of Lavender Menace packing up the remaining stock while rehearsing their “homage” to Bob and Sigrid. The dreaded ‘W’ word – Waterstones is moving to town, LGBT literature is becoming available in mainstream bookshops, and Bob and Sigrid are moving on. With every book packed away comes a memory, from the early days as a bookstall in the cloakroom of Princes Street nightclub, Fire Island, through life as a Gay man in Edinburgh in the 80s, to the spectre of Section 28, which looms on the horizon. All the while, exploring the significance of some seminal pieces of LGBT writing, and all done with humour and pathos.

This is a tiny slice of life, from a very specific time and place, and because of that, all the more engaging and relatable. While the tone can be almost flippant at times, its serves as a timely reminder of the groundwork that has gone in to raising the profile of the LGBTIQ community in the public eye. Pierce Reid is mercurial as the idealistic Lewis, Matthew McVarish endearing as the more pragmatic Glen. Pierce in particular looks to have a glittering career ahead of him.

Charming, amusing, though-provoking and laugh-out-loud funny. A worthwhile work, written and performed in such a way that it will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. It also leaves you wanting to see what’s next for playwright Ley and these talented actors.

Images: Aly Wight

REVIEW: Shrimp Dance – Platform, Glasgow

Shrimp Dance began with conversations between dancer Paul Michael Henry and marine biologist Dr. Alex Ford. Ford had shown that Prozac levels in the rivers and coastal waters of the UK are now so high they’re affecting the behaviour of shrimp, with the creatures abandoning their dark habitat to swim up towards the light to be eaten by predators.

Henry describes it as “a great wave of human sadness sent out to sea”. Utilising Butoh dance theatre and self-composed music, Henry performs a hypnotic hour of dance drama. The themes explored are huge: ecological crisis, mental health and consumerism, yet the moves are minute and precise – the sheer range, expressiveness and emotional impact of these are a testament to Henry’s considerable skill.

Performed as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, it opens up conversations on how mental health and its treatment can have a wider global impact and how the arts can be an avenue through which these conversations can be generated.

Utterly compelling, the astonishingly talented Henry has much to say and hopefully the dialogue will continue.

 

REVIEW: The Sunshine Ghost – Platform, Glasgow

Loosely based on the 1935 Rene Clair film, The Ghost Goes West, The Sunshine Ghost from Richard Ferguson (the pen name of conductor and RCS guest lecturer Richard Lewis) and Andy Cannon, (founder of Wee Stories Theatre for Children) is a work in progress, a co-production between Scottish Theatre Producers and Edinburgh’s Festival and King’s Theatres. The cast of six developing the work as they tour Scotland.

It’s 1958 and love-struck US billionaire, Glen Duval buys a Scottish castle and ships it across the Atlantic for his fiancée, Hollywood astrologer Astrobeth, only to discover that the castle’s ghost refuses to be parted from his ancestral home. Mayhem ensues between Ranald the ghost, Duval’s archaeologist daughter and her soon-to-be-step-mother, including curses, ship-wrecks, a séance, a swipe at Donald Trump, and a Scottish history lesson on Bonnie Prince Charlie, via Prestonpans to the battle of Culloden!

While a work in progress, it runs at a very fully formed two and a half hours. The problem is there are just too many songs, many of them merely filler. There are no costume or set changes to cover and a fair number of them fail to advance the plot in any way. That’s not to say that they are unpleasant or unentertaining, they’re not. Most are evocative of those black and white Saturday afternoon movie musicals of the 40s and 50s, a bit cha-cha-cha and samba-like, there even seems to be a new genre invented – 1950s rap! There’s also an under the sea parody with some fabulously funny lyrics. We could however be doing with a few less songs, a greater variety of musical styles and the story moving at a faster pace.

There’s huge scope for comedy in the story and with the characters. There are some great comedic moments, especially when pianist (and composer) Richard Ferguson gets his chance to shine as the Library of Congress librarian – with comic timing like that he’s woefully underused behind the piano. It’s great fun as it is but the whole thing would be elevated if it tipped even further towards comedy.

The performances are universally solid and the set and props as they are – are cleverly utilised. It’s easy to see how this could be scaled up to a full-blown touring musical – with the rolling hills of Scotland and the castle looming in the moonlight, it could be a tartan shortbread tin of nostalgia.

With shades of The Ghost and Mrs Muir and Blithe Spirit, this has HUGE potential: it just needs a few less songs, more musical variety and more comedy and it could easily be a winner.

Production images: Eoin Carey

SEAT REVIEWS: Platform, Glasgow

OVERVIEW:

Platform, Easterhouse is a 210 seat tiered auditorium.

There are ten main rows of tiered seats with a gallery row directly behind that separated by a rail. Two small sets of slip seats are also located on this level.

The seating is unreserved, however, this is not an issue as the sight lines from all seats in the auditorium are excellent and the size of the auditorium is such that in any seat, you feel close to the action.

The legroom is good, there is a footboard at the back of each seat to prevent kicking the one in front.

The seats are straight backed with arm rests and firmly upholstered.

IF YOU HAVE A REVIEW OF A SEAT IN THIS THEATRE PLEASE CONTACT glasgowtheatreblog@gmail.com or on Twitter @LaurenHumphreyz for your review to be added.

**PLEASE GET IN TOUCH EVEN IF THE SEAT YOU SAT IN HAS ALREADY GOT A REVIEW – WE WANT ALL OPINIONS OF THE SEAT – VIEW/LEGROOM/COMFORT/TEMPERATURE/IS SEAT OFF-SET OR DIRECTLY BEHIND ONE IN FRONT/ IS IT OK FOR TALL or SHORT THEATRE-GOERS? LET US KNOW.

REVIEW: Damned Rebel Bitches – Platform, Easterhouse

From the Clydebank Blitz in WW2, where Ella and her older sister Irene are orphaned, through emigration to New York in the 50s, a return to Scotland after widow-hood, to the streets of New York in 2012, Sandy Thomson’s Damned Rebel Bitches, part of Luminate the creative ageing Festival, is a joyous celebration of the women of the war years and an inspiring rallying call that life can be lived to the full, no matter what your age.

It’s 2012, and Ella’s grandson Cameron has disappeared in New York, with Hurricane Sandy looming, 80-year-old Ella packs her backpack and her walking poles and heads to the Big Apple with her 86-year-old sister, to sort it out.

Using age-blind casting and with the eras intertwining using flashback/forward, this is a vastly ambitious work, full of big ideas, and all the more compelling for that. This truly is a rollicking tale that flies by in the blink of an eye, belying its two and a half hour running time.

Ella is a survivor, a risk-taker, there’s a spark that is present throughout her life, and a never diminishing fire inside, and veteran actress Tina Gray shines as this feisty and fabulous woman. This ain’t no ‘nice old lady’, this is a woman you know would have your back in the toughest of times. This is an 80 year-old who is Tinder, Facebook and life-savvy, who can hot-wire a car and wield a gun if need be. Gray is more than ably supported by her fellow (younger and multi-national) cast mates Eilidh McCormick as older sister Irene, Geoffrey Pounsett as Canadian husband Pete and Jeremiah Reynolds as American grandson Cameron. Each turns in a perfectly judged and utterly compelling performance.

As Bette Davis said, and as quoted in the play: “old age ain’t no place for sissies”, but what an adventure it can be. This is stand-out storytelling: life affirming and above all hugely entertaining.

Reviewed at Platform, Easterhouse, Glasgow.

You can still catch it at:

Irvine Harbour Arts on Fri 6 October 2017

Paisley Arts Centre on Sat 7 October 2017