Tag Archives: Theatre Royal

NEWS: STEPHEN TOMPKINSON & JESSICA JOHNSON STAR IN THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTION OF WILLY RUSSELL’S EDUCATING RITA

David Pugh and Theatre by the Lake are delighted to announce that their highly acclaimed production of Willy Russell’s EDUCATING RITA will run at Theatre Royal, Glasgow in 2020 as part of 40th anniversary UK tour.

Starring Stephen Tompkinson as Frank and Jessica Johnson as Rita, the play will  run from Monday 24 February until Saturday 29 February 2020.

The production is directed by Max Roberts.

EDUCATING RITA tells the story of married hairdresser Rita, who enrols on an Open University course to expand her horizons, and her encounters with university tutor Frank. Frank is a frustrated poet, brilliant academic and dedicated drinker, who is less than enthusiastic about teaching Rita. However, Frank soon finds that his passion for literature is reignited by Rita, whose technical ability for the subject is limited by her lack of education, but whose enthusiasm Frank finds refreshing. The two soon realise how much they have to learn from each other.

EDUCATING RITA was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and played at the Warehouse Theatre, London in 1980, starring Julie Walters and Mark Kingston. Julie Walters reprised her role in the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning film opposite Michael Caine.

Born in Liverpool in 1947, Willy Russell left school at 15 and became a women’s hairdresser and part-time singer/songwriter before returning to education to retrain as a teacher. Russell’s other writing credits include the Olivier Award-winning musical Blood Brothers, and the hugely successful play Shirley Valentine, which won the Olivier Awards for Best New Comedy and Best New Actress, and a  Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play. The play was adapted for film and nominated for a host of BAFTA and Academy Awards. Willy Russell continues to be one of the most celebrated writers of his generation with works constantly in production throughout the world as well as in the UK.

Willy Russell said of this tour: “I am delighted that Stephen and Jess are returning next year to play Frank and Rita in the 40th anniversary production of Educating Rita, directed once again by the wonderful Max Roberts – I’m extremely proud to be associated with this marvellous production.”

Stephen Tompkinson’s television credits include ITV’s Torvill & Dean, BBC’s The Split, five series of DCI Banks, four series of Trollied, seven series of Wild at Heart, six series of Drop the Dead Donkey (British Comedy Award Winner for Best TV Comedy Actor) and three series of Ballykissangel, and his films include Phil in Brassed Off. His theatre work includes Spamalot, Rattle of a Simple Man and Arsenic and Old Lace in the West End, Cloaca and A Christmas Carol (Old Vic), Art and Tartuffe (National Tours).

Stephen Tompkinson said: “We had such a wonderful time touring and performing this last year around the UK.  Audiences respond so well to Willy Russell’s brilliant two-hander.  The response Jess and I receive and their affection for this play and these characters are overwhelming.  I’m thrilled to be a part of this production and to be sharing the stage with Jess again in even more cities next year.”

Jessica Johnson’s theatre credits include Call Me Mary Poppins, Goth Weekend, Kings and Queens, Each Piece and Anti-Gravity at the Live Theatre, Newcastle. She previously played Rita in Rebecca Frecknall’s 2017 production of Educating Rita at the Gala Theatre, Durham. Her television credits include Wire In The Blood (ITV), Coronation Street (ITV) and Cuckoo (Channel 4).

Jessica Johnson said: “Working with Willy, Max and Stephen earlier this year and developing the role of Rita in front of incredible audiences, has been the highlight of my career so far. It has been a total honour and now I get to do it again in the 40th anniversary production. I couldn’t be happier.”

Max Roberts is Emeritus Artistic Director of Newcastle’s Live Theatre. Under his direction, the Live Theatre has become one of the country’s most successful theatre companies with an outstanding reputation for developing new work. His Olivier Award-nominated production of Lee Hall’s Cooking With Elvis transferred to the West End’s Whitehall Theatre (now Trafalgar Studios) before touring nationally. He also directed The Pitman Painters, which transferred to the National Theatre and won Best Play at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards before opening on Broadway.

LISITNGS

Educating Rita

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Mon 24 – Sat 29 Feb 2020

Mon-Sat: 7.30pm

Wed & Sat: 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com*

0844 871 7647**

*fees apply

**calls cost up to 7p per minute plus you phone’s company’s access charge

REVIEW: SIX – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.

Aragorn, Boleyn, Seymour, Cleves, Howard, Parr.

Six women, six British Queens, reduced to six words in a rhyme.

Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss give sassy 21st Century voices to these six Tudor queens.

Written in ten working days, Six the Musical has been an eye-watering, head-spinning success since its appearance in 2017 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it was performed by the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society. Since then it has had a UK tour, several runs in the West End, been produced Off-Broadway, had a US tour, a run on Norwegian Cruise Lines that will continue to 2022, and will appear on Broadway, Australia, Canada and in Chicago and Minnesota in 2020. It is currently on its second UK-wide tour.

It is a sassy celebration of womanhood as these Queens get to reclaim their own her-story 500 years on. Long defined by who their husband was, it’s now time to tell their own tales.

Inevitable comparisons will be made with theatrical juggernaut Hamilton which also mixes 21st century music with historical subject material. However, Six manages to plough its own original and irresistible furrow. Staged like a mash-up between a stadium concert and a musical, it blends spot-on humour and cleverly delivered history with a refreshing dose of self-awareness. Each Queen gets her chance to stand centre stage and state her case in an X-Factor style competition to see who had it worse at the hands of the infamous Henry. These women are here to kick ass and tell all. This they do in an array of musical genres, a blend of pop, rock ballad, R&B, soul and electro euro-pop (the hysterical Kraut-rock/House mash up Haus of Holbein) and all backed by an all-female band, The Ladies in Waiting.

Each of the six women playing these six queens is thoroughly talented and shine equally, a rare and wonderful thing to see on stage and despite the competitiveness, it’s ultimately a show of sisterhood. This is a girl gang you really want to join.

After the defiant intro number Ex-Wives, Lauren Drew (Catherine of Aragon) starts the ball rolling with the sassy No Way followed by Maddison Bulleyment’s hysterical Anne Boleyn delivering the Lily Allen-ish Don’t Lose Your Head, including the lyrics: “I tried to elope but the Pope said ‘nope'” and “everybody chill, it’s totes God’s will”. Lauren Byrne (Jane Seymour) tugs at the heart-strings in the power ballad Heart of Stone. Shekinah McFarlane (Anna of Cleves) gives us the Rhianna-like Get Down and delivers the laughs with: “I’m the Queen of the castle, get down you dirty rascals” when ‘exiled’ to a life of luxury and independence after her divorce from Henry. Jodie Steele delivers Katherine Howard’s All You Wanna Do, with defiance, the lyrics make you question (in light of the #MeToo movement) has anything really changed for women in the past 500 years? And sheds new perspective on how she has been remembered in history. Athena Collins brings the women’s stories to an end absolutely beautifully with Catherine Parr’s Beyoncé-like torch song I Don’t Need Your Love. Each of these woman has is a power-house vocalist and could tear up any stage. That said, the songs they are asked to deliver are hard not to love and as catchy as hell. The rousing Six and Megasix mash-up brings the house to its feet to get down at the end.

Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography is sharp, original and modern, and perfectly executed by the cast. Gabriella Slade’s costume design is Ariana Grande does Tudor and it works fabulously, as does Emma Bailey’s simplistic but effective, concert-style set design and Tim Deiling’s rich lighting.

The face-off between the women is definitely a twisted sisterhood, they each fling the other’s sob story back in their faces, but this show of fierce womanhood is utterly irresistible. The dawning realisation by each woman that they only claim their place in history because of the man they married, reduced to: “just one word in a stupid rhyme” is actually heart-breaking. Thankfully they get “five more minutes” to set the record straight and send the audience to the street on an absolute high.

The succinct story telling packs a punch and the compact 75-minute running time is audience friendly. Marlow and Moss prove again that HISTORY + MUSICAL THEATRE = HIT. They have successfully distilled 500 year-old history into a perfect piece of entertainment for the 21st Century. Having seen it several times now, Six remains one of the best things out there and stands up to repeated viewings (something this reviewer is never keen on).

It’s a welcome breath of fresh air in a fog of tired, relentlessly touring, mediocre musicals. Get a ticket while you can, you won’t regret it.

Runs until 10th November 2019 at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow

review originally published at The Reviews Hub

NEWS: STRICTLY WINNER TOM CHAMBERS AND NOT GOING OUT STAR SALLY BRETTON LEAD CAST IN DIAL M FOR MURDER

A brand new production of the classic thriller, Dial M for Murder, will run at Theatre Royal, Glasgow next year as part of  UK tour.

Based on Frederick Knott’s stage and screen play and made world-famous by Hitchcock’s iconic 1954 film, the production, directed by Anthony Banks, will open on Tuesday 3 and close on Saturday 7 March.

TV and stage favourite, Tom Chambers, (Top Hat, Strictly Come Dancing) stars as the charismatic and manipulative Tony Wendice, a jaded ex-tennis pro who has given it all up for his wife Margot, played by Sally Bretton (Not Going Out, Death In Paradise, The Office). When he discovers she has been unfaithful his mind turns to revenge and the pursuit of the ‘perfect crime’. Christopher Harper (Coronation Street, Strangers on a Train) performs in the dual roles of Captain Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard and Michael Salami (Hollyoaks) as Max Halliday, Margot’s American lover.

Tom Chambers plays Tony Wendice. Tom’s theatre credits include: Crazy For You (UK tour); Private Lives (UK tour); White Christmas (Dominion); Top Hat (Aldwych); White Christmas (Sunderland Empire); The Rover (Young Vic Studio); Journey’s End (Courtyard Theatre); Bloody Poetry (Brockley Jack Theatre); Pendragon (City Theatre Broadway NYMT and Sadler’s Wells); October’s Children (NYMT and Hammersmith Lyric); Cyrano De Bergerac and Macbeth (Derby Rep Theatre); Damn Yankees (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre); The Innocents (Derby Playhouse) and Stepping Out (Electric GSA). Film includes: Fakers and Great in Britain: the Movie. Television includes: Midsomer Murders, Emmerdale, Casualty, Father Brown, The Great Train Robbery, Waterloo Road and Holby City. Radio includes: Mellow Magic every Saturday 10am-1pm.

Sally Bretton appears as Margot Wendice. Sally’s theatre credits include: An Ideal Husband (Classic Spring Company); King Lear, The Front Line and In Extremis (Shakespeare’s Globe); A Conversation (Manchester Royal Exchange); All My Sons (Library Theatre, Manchester); Present Laughter (Theatre Royal Bath and UK tour) and Hay Fever (Oxford Stage Company). Sally was nominated for Best Actress – Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards 2002 for her role in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at The Library Theatre, Manchester. Film includes: Outlaw, So Long Charlie Bright and Peaches. Television includes: Not Going Out, Death in Paradise, The Office, Green Wing, Absolute Power, Thanks for the Memories, Casualty, Lewis, How Not to Live Your Life, Hotel Babylon, Vincent, Open Wide, Blessed, Blackbeard, If…we eradicate violent crime, Wild West, Blue Murder, Happy Together, Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible, Beast, Armstrong and Miller and The People’s Harry Enfield.

Christopher Harper performs as Captian Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard. Christopher’s theatre credits include: Strangers on a Train (UK tour); Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare’s’ Globe); Slipping (Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough); The Wind in the Willows, Man of the Moment and Private Fears in Public Places (Royal & Derngate); I Know How I Feel About Eve (Hampstead Downstairs); The Night Before Christmas (Different Breed); The Village Bike (Sheffield Crucible Studio); A Kid Like Jake (Old Vic New Voices); Our Country’s Good and Journey’s End (Original Theatre Company); Persuasion, After Miss Julie and People at Sea (Salisbury Playhouse); Saturn Returns (Finborough Theatre); Light Shining in Buckinghamshire and Lie of the Land (Arcola). Television includes: Holby City, Endeavour, Coronation Street, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Doctors, Upstairs Downstairs, The Bill, Heartbeat, The Roman Mysteries, Housewife 49, Life on Mars and Rosemary and Thyme. Chris also produced and voiced the award-winning charity animation The Mouse.

Michael Salami is Max Halliday. Michael Salami is a multi-award-winning actor. Born in America and raised in London, Salami discovered his passion for acting in 2007. Salami made his first on stage appearance at Oval Theatre in 2010 and has since then performed at The Old Vic, Soho Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Southwark Playhouse and Theatre503. Salami studied at Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York graduating in 2016 and since then has appeared in Hollyoaks; Catastrophe; The Temple and Magic Hour. His leading role in Just A Couple has landed him a number of nominations and awards such as a Screen Nation Award for Best Actor. Just A Couple is now in full development with Channel 4.

Dial M for Murder

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Tue 3 – Sat 7 Mar 2020

Tue-Sat: 7.30pm

Wed, Thu & Sat: 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

0844 871 7647* calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

 

NEWS: God of Carnage announced to return for UK tour starring Elizabeth McGovern, Nigel Lindsay, Samantha Spiro and Simon Paisley Day

Following an acclaimed run as part of its Summer Season 2018, Theatre Royal Bath Productions is delighted to announced the return of its hit comedy production of Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage for a UK tour starting in January 2020. Elizabeth McGovern, fresh from starring in the celebrated Downton Abbey film, reprises her dazzling performance as Veronica with Nigel Lindsay back as her bluff husband Michael. Directed by Lindsay Posner, the production welcomes two-time Olivier Award-winning actress Samantha Spiro who will play Annette and Simon Paisley Day, recently seen in Ralegh: The Treason Trial at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, in the role of husband, Alan.

God of Carnage will run at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre (14 – 18 January 2020), Theatre Royal Bath (20 – 25 January and with opening night for press on 21 January), Theatre Royal Glasgow (27 January – 1 February), Cambridge Arts Theatre (3 – 8 February) and Rose Theatre Kingston (10 – 15 February).

When 11-year-old Ferdinand hits 11-year-old Bruno with a stick in a playground punch-up and knocks out two of his teeth, the combatants’ enlightened parents decide to meet to talk things over civilly. But once the niceties are done with and the drink starts flowing, it is the parents who turn into spoiled brats.

Elizabeth McGovern/Veronica

God of Carnage is a ruthlessly comic study of middle-class parenting. Originally written in French, the play was translated by Christopher Hampton in 2008. The production went on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and the Tony Award for Best New Play.

Elizabeth McGovern is well known for her Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award nominated role as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey. She has also played Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime for which she received an Academy Award nomination. Her theatre credits include Broadway productions of Time and the Conways, Hamlet and Love Letters. Other film and television credits include Ordinary People, Once Upon a Time in AmericaThe Handmaid’s Tale and The Wings of the Dove.

Nigel Lindsay/Michael

Nigel Lindsay is an Olivier Award nominated actor. His numerous television credits include the ITV series Victoria, Spooks, White Gold and The Capture. For film he has appeared in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa and Four Lions, for which he was nominated for Best British Comedy Performance in Film at the British Comedy Awards. His many stage credits include the title role in Shrek the Musical for which he was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical, Guys and Dolls (West End), Harrogate (Royal Court), A Small Family Business (National Theatre), Broken Glass (Tricycle Theatre) and Awake and Sing (Almeida).

Samantha Spiro is a two-time Oliver Award-winning actress. Her numerous television credits include her British Comedy Award-winning role in Grandma’s House, Game of Thrones and Cold Feet. She recently appeared on stage in Lady Windermere’s Fan (West End). Previous credits include Guys and Dolls (West End), Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare’s Globe), her Olivier Award winning title role in Hello, Dolly! and Mary Flynn in Merrily We Roll Along which also saw her receive the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Simon Paisley Day’s recent screen credits include Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Born A King, The Crown, Brexit: The Uncivil War and Victoria & Abdul. He previously appeared at Bath in Richard Eyre’s Private Lives. Further stage credits include Twelfth Night (National Theatre), The Lorax (Old Vic), West End productions of Anything Goes, The Philanthropist, The 39 Steps and Private Lives, the title role in Timon of Athens (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Low Road and The Ugly One (Royal Court).

Yasmina Reza has written numerous plays including Olivier and Tony Award winning God of Carnage, Art, The Unexpected Man and The Passage of Winter.  She has also written novels Hammerklavier, Desolation, Adam Haberberg, Happy are The Happy and Babylone and the screenplay for Carnage.

Lindsay Posner’s career includes positions as Associate Director of Royal Court Theatre, Artistic Director of Royal Court Theatre Upstairs and Deputy Director for main house.  Additional credits include Olivier nominated productions of A View from the Bridge (Duke of York’s Theatre) and Carousel (Churchill Theatre, UK Tour and Savoy Theatre) as well as The Lie (Menier Chocolate Factory), The Truth (Menier Chocolate Factory, Wyndham’s), Hayfever (Theatre Royal Bath/West End) and The Winslow Boy (Roundabout Theatre, New York; Old Vic Theatre). Television credits include Two Oranges and a Mango and The Maitlands.

Monday 27 January – Saturday 1 February 2020
Theatre Royal Glasgow
282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA
Box Office: 08448 717 647
www.atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-Glasgow/

Images: Nobby Clark

REVIEW: Tosca – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Sumptuous, stunning, shocking, and still sensational, Anthony Besch’s production for Scottish Opera of Giacomo Puccini’s once decried, but now beloved, “shabby little shocker” Tosca, still has the power to stir almost 40 years on. As evidenced by the packed house, this ninth revival, is as popular as ever, and rightly so.

Now widely utilised, but ground-breaking in the 1980s, was Besch’s re-setting of the work from the Napoleonic era to 1940s Fascist-era Rome, and the production looks and feels as fresh and relevant as the moment it first appeared.

As the curtain rises on Peter Rice’s glorious set there is an audible gasp from both those new to this production and those in the audience welcoming home an old and much-loved friend from its extensive travels around the globe. The magnificent realisation of the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, is truly breath-taking, never more so than in the Te Deum, where the splendidly clad clergy and congregation bring the curtain down on the first act. The representations of Scarpio’s office in the Palazzo Farnese and the ramparts of the Castel Sant’Angelo are just as magnificent and historically accurate.

Puccini’s sublime music sounds strikingly modern and almost cinematic throughout, and the orchestra under the baton of Stuart Stratford sounds majestic, managing to strike the perfect balance of power without ever overwhelming the singers.

Natalya Romaniw is an out-standing Tosca, seamlessly marrying her stunning vocals to beautifully measured and highly convincing acting skills. Roland Wood is an assured Scarpia, but it is Gwyn Hughes Jones as Cavaradossi who is the knock out of the evening, never was a voice more perfectly married to a role, he is truly stunning.

This is a five-star, breath-taking production in every respect, and the perfect example of what opera can and should be.

Runs until 26 October 2019, then touring to Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

For more information visit Scottish Opera

IMAGES: JAMES GLOSSOP

 

 

NEWS: SUSAN PENHALIGON JOINS THE UK TOUR OF AGATHA CHRISTIE’S THE MOUSETRAP

Television star Susan Penhaligon (Bouquet of Barbed Wire, A Fine Romance, Emmerdale) will join the cast of Agatha Christie’s legendary whodunnit as Mrs Boyle at Theatre Royal, Glasgow this month.

Directed by Gareth Armstrong, the timeless thriller will be staged at the city centre venue from Monday 28 October until Saturday 2 November. The Mousetrap returned to the road by popular demand earlier this year and has been earning standout reviews from critics and public alike.  

As the snow storm worsens the inhabitants of Monkswell Manor find themselves cut off from the outside world and we discover there is a murderer in their midst. With a third and final murder anticipated there is a race against time to reveal the secret and discover the identity of the murderer.

Susan Penhaligon (Mrs Boyle) is well-known for her role in the ITV drama Bouquet of Barbed Wire, and for playing Helen Barker in the ITV sitcom A Fine Romance. She also played Jean Hope in UK soap Emmerdale. She has toured the UK extensively with stage productions including The Importance of being Earnest, Cabaret, Rehearsal for Murder, And Then There Were None, The Constant Wife, Verdict and Dangerous Obsessions. Stage credits also include Caste (Finborough Theatre), Murder on Air (Theatre Royal Windsor), Broken Glass (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Compliant Love (Palace Theatre) and The Cherry Orchard (Royal Exchange). Susan has also appeared on film in Top Dog, Citizen Versus Kane, Say that You Love Me, Say Hello to Yesterday and Private Road.

The cast also includes David Alcock (Mr Paravicini), Geoff Arnold (Detective Sgt. Trotter), Nick Biadon (Giles Ralston), Lewis Chandler (Christopher Wren), John Griffiths (Major Metcalf), Harriett Hare (Mollie Ralston) and Saskia Vaigncourt-Strallen (Miss Casewell).

The Mousetrap has been thrilling audiences for 67 years and the identity of the murderer remains theatre-land’s best kept secret.

First seen in Nottingham in 1952 starring Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim, The Mousetrap went on to become the world’s longest running stage production following its West End transfer to The Ambassadors in 1952 and St Martins in 1973 where it has played ever since, continuing a record-breaking run with over 27,500 performances in London so far. The beloved murder mystery returns to the road following the success of the first ever UK tour in 2012.

NEWS: GHOST STORIES – JEREMY DYSON AND ANDY NYMAN’S WORLDWIDE CULT PHENOMENON TO TERRIFY GLASGOW

PROFESSOR GOODMAN TO VISIT THEATRE ROYAL TO CONFIRM THE SUPERNATURAL IS PURELY A TRICK OF THE MIND… OR IS IT? 

TUESDAY 7 – SATURDAY 11 APRIL 2020

 After exhilarating audiences across the globe with record breaking, sell-out productions and a smash hit film, the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s production of Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s supernatural sensation Ghost Stories will run at Theatre Royal, Glasgow next year as part of a UK tour.

More spine-tingling and terrifying than ever, the Olivier Award-nominated show opens on Tuesday 7 April for 7 performances until Saturday 11 April.

There’s something dark lurking in the theatre. Enter a nightmarish world, full of thrilling twists and turns, where all your deepest Ghost  fears and most disturbing thoughts are imagined live on stage. A fully sensory and electrifying encounter, Ghost Stories is the ultimate twisted love-letter to horror, a supernatural edge-of-your-seat theatrical experience like no other. 

Please be advised that Ghost Stories contains moments of extreme shock and tension. The show is unsuitable for anyone under the age of 15. We strongly advise those of a nervous disposition to think very seriously before attending. 

Ghost Stories

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Tue 7 – Sat 11 Apr 2020

Tue – Thu, 8pm

Fri: 6pm & 8.30pm

Sat: 3pm & 8pm

0844 871 7647*calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access rate

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

 

REVIEW: What’s in a Name – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière’s 2010 play Le Prénom was a hit of such magnitude it spawned not only a big screen French version in 2012 but a German film incarnation in 2018. Jeremy Sam’s translation, What’s in a Name? has arrived in Glasgow and proves to be a class act from start to end.

It’s the present day in a trendy double height loft conversion in Peckham, teacher Elizabeth (Laura Patch) is throwing a dinner party for her brother Vincent (Joe Thomas), brash, flash and with more than a hint of a Thatcher-era, boy-made-good bravado; all three-piece-suit, slicked back hair and ill-concealed misogyny. Vincent and his partner Anna (Louise Marwood) are about to become parents, lecturer husband Peter (Bo Poraj) and childhood friend Carl (Alex Gaumond), a trombonist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, round out the company.

The revelation by Vincent of the name he intends to call his expected son, turns tiny tensions into a torrent of tirades, as every petty resentment  from the past thirty years surfaces. The accusations and recriminations fly, and some pretty big secrets are revealed.

What’s in a Name may be the typical upper-middle class intellectual, philosophical fare that the French typically love, but this fast, furious, and funny social comedy, is a welcome breath of fresh air. The witty, rapid-fire dialogue shines a light perfectly on a certain strata of bourgeois British society and the “pseudo intellectual pick and mix” of values they hold. It’s all enhanced by a knock-out cast who deliver the linguistic gymnastics with class and flair. A touch of class for the autumn theatre season.

Image: Piers Foley

Originally published at The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Scottish Ballet’s The Crucible – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

American choreographer Helen Pickett seals her reputation as a masterful creator of narrative ballet in her adaptation of Arthur Miller’s seminal play The Crucible. Teaming up with Scottish Ballet, themselves with a not-too-shabby reputation for staging classic American literary works (2012’s A Streetcar Named Desire), together they deliver a gripping, unsettling, goose bump-inducing work.

The prescience of the subject matter is in itself chilling, that a work written at the height of the Cold War and set at the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690’s, has a relevance in 2019, is shuddering to acknowledge.

Pickett’s choreography is refreshingly original, a blast of beautiful, lyrical modernity set against a historic backdrop. Her background as not only a dancer, but accomplished actress, has reaped dividends in this work. Each character is clearly defined, and the choreography is sufficiently emotive, nuanced and descriptive enough to drive the narrative.

Emma Kingsbury and David Finn’s design, dark and claustrophobic, is almost a character in itself and the wonderfully named Peter Salem’s score is a knock-out, pulsating, atmospheric, the sense of foreboding building throughout. It is notable in its perfect reflection of time and place, and is played gorgeously by the Scottish Ballet orchestra.

This is a company of universal quality and the entire work is danced with conviction, Barnaby Rook Bishop shines as John Proctor as does Bethany Kingsley-Garner as his wronged wife Elizabeth, who has matured into a beautifully nuanced dancer, Claire Souet is explosive as the vengeful manipulator Abigail and Katlyn Addison’s powerful, exquisitely danced Tituba is a delight.

This explosive work is a thrill from start to end, a fitting and unmissable addition to Scottish Ballet’s 50th anniversary season.

Runs until 28 September 2019 | Image: Jane Hobson

REVIEW: The Exorcist – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

It’s a work that’s polarised audiences in both book and film form, and now, almost fifty years after William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel first appeared, the stage version arrives in Glasgow on its first national tour. Is it a horror classic? Is it satanic porn? Is it even suitable for stage adaptation? What can be in no doubt is that many audience members will arrive in the auditorium with a certain set of expectations: will there be head-spinning? projectile vomiting? masturbating with a crucifix? Yes, yes and, err yes.

Inspired by a real 1949 case in Maryland, simply, it’s the story of the demonic possession of 12-year-old Regan MacNeil, daughter of actress Chris, and the repeated attempts to cure what ails her, moving from the worlds of science to religion, ultimately ending in the titular exorcism.

While claiming to explore some bigger themes: faith and disbelief, doubt and courage, it is ultimately an opportunity to be scared witless in the name of entertainment, and the largely solid cast (save for the inevitable adult over-playing a twelve-year-old child in an already over-the top role) and Anna Fleischle’s dimly lit design, complimented by Adam Cork’s soundscape, all help to enhance the sense of creeping tension. It’s a little flabby, even at a short 100 minute running time, and it never matches the nerve-shredding tension of the movie version, but there are sufficient scares to get the blood pumping.

What it does achieve to its credit, is attracting a fresh set of theatre-goers, and provides a welcome relief from anodyne plays and a glut of perpetually touring musicals.

Runs until 21 September 2019 | Image: Contributed (previous production)

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

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