Tag Archives: The Town House

REVIEW: Milton Jones and Chums – The Town House, Hamilton

The king of the one-liner Milton Jones and star of Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo and Comedy Roadshow, is touring the country with a slew of local comedians in tow. Luckily for Lanarkshire, Jones and chums are stopping off in Hamilton for one night only.

Compered brilliantly by stand up and star of Scot Squad, Chris Forbes, this is a well-curated showcase that delivers a satisfying night of comedy to the packed crowd.

Chris Forbes

Unenviably, it’s down to Edinburgh-based Gareth Waugh to open the show. Waugh is a personable and polished comedian and his self-deprecating stories have enough relatable material to get the crowd nodding and laughing along. It must be said though that for anyone who has seen him in the last few years, much of the material has been culled from his past two Edinburgh Fringe show: granny’s mad childhood games, the teenage gang asking him to buy them a carry-out and his jogging exploits to name a few. There’s also a fair amount of awkwardly familiar stories to make you cringe in recognition. It’s funny enough, and it serves its purpose as a warm up for the acts to come, but there’s nothing new or particularly ground-breaking here.

Gareth Waugh

Next up is the Santa Claus bearded and board shorts and t-shirt wearing veteran Graham Mackie. Mackie’s look may be benign and affable but his material is deceptively subversive, a combination that goes down well with the Hamilton crowd.

Graham Mackie

Second-to-top-billing falls to recent social media viral sensation Gary Meikle, whose rant on his daughter’s obsession with her eyebrows has struck a chord in these self-absorbed times. Meikle a single dad and youthful granddad at 40, delivers a knock-out selection of hugely relatable anecdotes that really do have the audience almost rolling in the aisles. What shines through is his love for his daughter and granddaughter, who provide rich material for the deft story-teller.

Gary Meikle

The wild-haired Jones is well worth the wait and the intellect behind the drolly delivered one-liners is sharp, sharp, sharp. Jones is well aware that some are so clever that they need a moment to land and his deft-touch with an audience allows this to happen.

This is really is a bumper evening of comedy, without a weak link on the bill. Each comedian is well worth seeing on their own and an even bigger treat altogether.

Milton Jones

REVIEW: The Mousetrap – The Town House, Hamilton

The name Agatha Christie attached to a production is draw enough and so it proves here in Hamilton. Playing to a packed house, what started as a 60th Anniversary celebration UK tour, has now extended into its fourth year, such is the pull of the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap.

A seemingly disparate group gather in the midst of winter at remote country house hotel Monkswell Manor. Cut off by the snow, they soon discover a murderer in their midst. One by one their pasts are revealed and dark secrets are uncovered.

Despite their years, good old fashioned murder mysteries never fail to entertain and so it proves here. Played out on an atmospheric set which sits perfectly in this delightful period auditorium, these archetypal Christie characters from the golden age of crime fiction, play out their thoroughly entertaining dance of deception.

In playing characters that are a hairbreadth away from caricature, the actors have to walk a fine line between believability and parody and some it must be said are on a surer footing than others. Luke Jenkins’ Sgt. Trotter is the stand out in this ensemble cast, imbuing the character with a gravitas beyond his years. Less successful are Mousetrap veterans Anne Kavanagh (Mrs Boyle) and William Ilkley (Major Metcalf), who both veer a little to far into exaggeration; Kavanagh in action and Ilkley in accent. While Edward Elgood’s jittery young thing, Christopher Wren and Jonathan Sidgwick’s suspicious foreigner with something to hide, Mr Paravicini are teetering on the edge of comic, they at least have been written that way.

All in all though, it still has the power to thrill and proves that there is life in the old dog yet.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Blood Brothers – The Town House, Hamilton

32 years on since its first performance, there are few musicals whose flames still burn as bright nor are there many shows that continue to genuinely move, even on repeated viewing, as Willy Russell’s classic nature versus nurture tale, Blood Brothers.

Now well established on a national tour that takes it all around the UK until September, it arrives in Hamilton as fresh as a daisy and with a cast performing as if it were opening night.

In Blood Brothers the story has always been the thing, and the heartbreaking tale of the Johnnstone twins, separated at birth by circumstance only to be tragically reunited, has lost none of its allure: the packed house were moved, in equal measure, to tears and cheers throughout.

blood-brothers-2014-tour

Crucial to the success of any production of this work is its cast and the current line-up has firmly established itself as one of the best. It is hard to express the quality of Sean Jones’ performance as Mickey, a veteran in the role, he manages, not only a spot-on portrayal of the character from child to adulthood, but his desire to give his all to the role means he delivers 100% at every performance. Recent graduate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Joel Benedict delivers a rock-solid turn as middle class twin Edward as does Marti Pellow as the Narrator, and Maureen Nolan invests her all as the twins’ mother, she is in fine voice throughout and emotionally wrung-out by the end. The supporting cast are universally deserving of praise too, there isn’t a weak link anywhere.

marti-pellow-blood-brothers1

Mention must be made of the venue; this 700 seater Edwardian Baroque, town theatre provides an intimacy that is ideal for this show. The close-quarters drawing the audience in, making them part of the story. In previous venues (indeed Glasgow King’s Theatre in November) there were amplification issues; the ear-splitting volume at times jarring with the mood of the piece but in this venue, it was pitch perfect.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.55.11

A flawless production: both a work and a cast of infinite quality, its power remains undiminished down the years – still an absolute must-see.

Runs until Sat 21 Feb then touring until September.

 

 

REVIEW: The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam

1see_thru_sam0003-300x209

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

Writer: Johnny McKnight

Director: Johnny McKnight

The Public Reviews Rating: ★★★★½

Fifteen year old Sam McTannan has a superpower, the ability to make himself invisible: invisible to the cool kids at school, invisible to his teachers and invisible to the girl of his dreams. It’s a superpower he’s really rather happy with, ensuring as it does a pretty quiet life. But one tragic day all that changes when Sam’s beloved parents Chip the Grip and Sheila the Feeler, are killed in a car crash. Sam’s superpowers desert him, placing him firmly centre stage, where he has to deflect the attention of well-meaning teachers, his nemesis Uncle Herbie and the horrific school bully Chunk, boyfriend of his teenage crush Violet.

The Incredible Adventures of See Thru Sam, this heart-breaking, thought-provoking and ultimately life-affirming play comes to us from the assured pen of Johnny McKnight and manages the difficult feat of being genuinely laugh out loud funny and deeply moving in equal measure. It has emotional pull from the very first scene, grabbing you and tugging at your heart strings, pulling you this way and that, throughout the whole 80 minute roller-coaster ride.

To his great credit McKnight never shies away from confronting difficult themes and his fine ear for comic dialogue and finger on the heartbeat of the shunned in society strikes a chord, not only with the high school students in the audience, but all of those who have survived their teenage years.

The actors are universally deserving of praise, Julie Brown and James Mackenzie take on multiple and diverse roles with ease, and manage the lightning quick changes with a slickness that defies belief. Particularly successful are Brown’s perfectly judged portrayal of Mrs. Timmins, the eccentric but well-meaning Home Economics teacher and Mackenzie’s hysterical turn as Sam’s best buddy Walrus. As Sam, James Young carries the weight of the dialogue on his shoulders and manages to switch between direct audience address and dramatic interaction with admirable skill. He is utterly and heartbreakingly convincing as the ill at ease teen negotiating his way through the minefield of growing up, grief and love.

The set design by Lisa Sangster deserves special mention. Through the stunning use of Jamie Macdonald’s ingenious animations and Kim Beveridge’s video design we are not only fully immersed in Sam’s world but also party to his innermost thoughts.

Innovative, emotive and unmissable, I defy you to leave the theatre without a lump in your throat. See it if you can.

Reviewed on 24 September then touring Scotland.