Tag Archives: Tron Theatre

WHAT’S ON MAY: Low Pay? Don’t Pay! to open in Glasgow in May

‘What happens when women band together to fight the system?’

A uniquely Glaswegian take on a classic satirical play is touring to community venues and professional theatres around the city this spring.

Written by Johnny McKnight, Low Pay? Don’t Pay! follows a group of women who lose patience with low pay and rising prices before taking direct action.

The play, adapted from Italian Nobel prize winner Dario Fo’s Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! is produced by Glasgow Life and supported by Creative Scotland.

McKnight, best known for his well-loved scripts for the Tron Theatre’s hugely popular pantomimes and River City, brings this fast moving, hilarious tale to present day Glasgow.

‘Low Pay? Don’t Pay! opens on Friday 3 May at the Tron Theatre as part of Mayfesto 2019.

It tours to community venues across the city including Barmulloch Community Centre, Govanhill Neighbourhood Centre, Penilee Community Centre, and Lodging House Mission – a Glasgow based charity dedicated to providing care and support to homeless, vulnerable and socially excluded people.

Ticket prices for community venues are £5 (£3 concessions).

The play will also tour to Paisley Arts Centre, Cumbernauld Theatre, Brunton Theatre and Platform, in the East End of the City.

Councillor David McDonald, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, said:  “This superb new production updates the action from its original 1970s setting in Italy to Glasgow today. Low Pay? Don’t Pay! is cutting edge satire at its best with a warm and wry Glasgow attitude shining throughout.

“Through a wide reaching series of performances in community centres across the city, there will be opportunities for everyone to experience the play in a venue near them at an affordable price. We hope audiences will have a great time at the show and be inspired to keep engaging with the arts in their own communities.”

Dr Femi Folorunso, Theatre Officer, Creative Scotland commented: “Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’ by the late Italian dramatist, Dario Fo, is considered one of the best work of 20th century European theatre. It is a work that mirrors some of the contradictions in the struggle for individual happiness and collective social justice in our age.

“Creative Scotland is delighted to have been able to support this Glasgow adaptation, with the promise of full local trimmings added, of a work that is timeless in its message and which above all is a good piece of theatre.”

Full details of the tour can be found on glasgowlife.org.uk/arts

2 – 11 May – Tron Theatre (tron.co.uk)
17 May – Cumbernauld Theatre (cumbernauldtheatre.co.uk)
19 May – Platform (platform-online.co.uk)
25 May – Brunton Theatre (thebrunton.co.uk)
1 June – Paisley Arts Centre (renfrewshireleisure.com/whatson)

Community tour (Tickets £5/£3)

15 May   Barlanark Community Centre
16 May Govanhill Neighbourhood Centre
18 May Pollokshields Community Centre
22 May Lodging House Mission
24 May Penilee Community Centre
28 May Possilpoint Community Centre
29 May Ruchill Community Centre
30 May   Barrowfield  Community Centre
31 May Barmulloch Community Centre


Mayfesto is the Tron’s mini-festival of edgy and provocative new work and with the world around us seemingly forever on a knife-edge, they present a cavalcade of escape artists. Fierce woman at home and abroad tear apart their societal constraints, lone adventurers strike out in environs new and dreamers to carry us down the rabbit hole and off to karaoke.

Eve Nicol and Andy Edwards are the Resident Artists for the festival, with Eve directing a brand-new work for Scotland, The Mistress Contract (1-11 May), which sets out to establish clear cut rules of engagement between the sexes in a complicated world of blurred lines and grey areas.  Inspired by the memoir of real-life couple, SHE and HE, Abi Morgan’s play is bruisingly candid.  Andy Edward’s work-in-progress piece, Arketype (24 & 25 May, 8pm) is a tragic-comic revisioning of Noah’s Ark – a retelling of the famous flood myth against a contemporary world of rising sea levels and men whose boats we don’t need.

Amid the current political climate, Johnny McKnight reworks Dario Fo’s hilarious 70s farce, Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! as Low Pay? Don’t Pay! (2-11 May) where the action moves to Glasgow and a group of women lose patience with low pay and rising prices and take direct action.  Gav Prentice, fresh from a residency with the National Theatre of Scotland presents his first play, Turn the Night (10 & 11 May), bringing the sounds of a real night out into the theatre.  Apphia Campbell’s Woke (15 & 16 May), set against a powerful soundtrack of original music and traditional gospel and blues, focuses on two women, 42 years apart who become involved in the struggle for human rights and Electrolyte (15 -18 May) is WILDCARD’s multi-award-winning piece of gig theatre that powerfully explores mental health.

There is a piece for younger audiences this Mayfesto, in the shape of Imaginate and Stellar Quines’ This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing (17 & 18 May).  This new play suitable for ages 7yrs+ is an empowering contemporary fairytale about determination, friendship and the ups and downs of growing older. They’res also the Fringe First-winning Status (24 & 25 May), scratch performance from ThickSkin, AWOL (30 & 31 May), the latest rehearsed reading in Fire Exit’s Pyromania programme, Tomorrow, Under Snow (28 May) and a visually sumptuous version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (29 May – 1 June) from Ireland’s longest running theatre ensemble Blue Raincoat (Shackleton, The Third Policeman).

In the words of resident artist Andy Edwards: “This Mayfesto is a programme of dreams, plots and plans. Chances to escape what you already know, what you already think.you can only escape to come back, but can we return with fresh purpose, open hands, new ideas – ready to go again?”

This year’s Mayfesto is a brilliant opportunity to escape and enjoy the very best in new engaged and engaging work that the Tron and their visiting company partners have to offer.


Wed 1 – Sat 11 May
Tron Theatre Company presents
Changing House
8pm (matinees Sat 4 & 11 May, 2.45pm)
BSL Thu 9 May
Tickets: £11 (£8.50)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

Inspired by a real-life memoir, Abi Morgan’s The Mistress Contract redefines the rules of engagement between the sexes in a complicated world of blurred lines and grey areas.

Thu 2 – Sat 11 May
Glasgow Life presents
Main Auditorium
7.45pm (matinee Sat 11 May, 2.30pm)
Tickets: £11- £17
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

A timely revival of Dario Fo’s famous satirical farce Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! brings the action to Glasgow in a new version by comedy genius Johnny McKnight.

Fri 10 – Sat 11 May
Gav Prentice presents
Victorian Bar
Tickets: £11 (£8.50)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

Musician Gav Prentice writes and performs solo for his first play, portraying a succession of Karaoke night regulars bearing their souls via original songs.

Wed 15 & Thu 16 May
Play the Spotlight Theatre presents
Main Auditorium
Tickets: £15 (£11)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

From the creator of the hit show Black Is The Color Of My Voice comes a new story about the 20th Century African American experience. Woke won the coveted Scotsman Fringe First Award for its premiere season and was highly commended by the judges of the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award.

Wed 15 – Sat 18 May
WILDCARD presents
Changing House
Tickets: £11 (£8.50)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

Wildcard’s Edinburgh Fringe smash hit Electrolyte is a multi-award-winning piece of gig theatre that powerfully explores mental health for a contemporary audience.

Fri 17 & Sat 18 May
Imaginate and Stellar Quines present
This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing
Main Auditorium
1pm Fri 17; 2pm & 7pm Sat 18
Tickets: £10 (Family of 3 £27; Family of 4 £36)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

Triplet sisters left in a forest by their Father are forced to find their own way in the world. An empowering adventurous fairytale about growing up.

Fri 24 & Sat 25 May
China Plate and Straatstheater presents
Main Auditorium
Tickets: £17 (£13)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

A globe-spanning journey of attempted escape, with songs along the way.

Fri 24 & Sat 25 May
Tron CREATIVE presents
ARKETYPE (Work in Progress)
Changing House
Tickets: £5 (£3 Maker)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

Arketype is a tragicomic revisioning of Noah’s Ark, a retelling of the famous flood myth against a contemporary world of rising sea levels, mustard knitwear and bearded men whose boats we don’t need.

Tue 28 May
Fire Exit presents
Pyromania (Rehearsed Reading): TOMORROW, UNDER SNOW
Changing House
Tickets: £5 (£3 Maker)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

Rehearsed reading of Andy Edward’s new work, Tomorrow, Under Snow developed through Fire Exit’s Pyromania programme.

Wed 29 May – Sat 1 June
Blue Raincoat Theatre Company presents
Main Auditorium
Tickets: £15 (£11)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

From the creative team that brought you Shackleton and The Third Policeman comes a fast-paced visual and imaginative rendition of a timeless classic.

Thu 30 & Fri 31 May
ThickSkin presents
AWOL (Scratch Performance)
Changing House
Tickets: £5 (£3 Maker)
Tron Theatre
0141 552 4267

In a cold, controlled world, where we are all expected to conform, two individuals go under the radar to break away from the norm.


Tron Theatre’s Spring-Summer 2019 season is packed full of work that will challenge conventions and subvert some of drama’s most classic of texts. Andy Arnold’s programme for the new year sees him welcome early career influencers like Pete Brook of Impact Theatre and Linda Marlowe alongside some of the finest emergent artists and companies making work. Highlights will include:

* Jo Clifford’s razor-sharp new version of The Taming of the Shrew, presented by Sherman Theatre, Cardiff and Tron Theatre Company.
* imitating the dog’s bold re-telling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness fusing live performance with digital technology.
* The Zinnie Harris re-working of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie presented by Perth Theatre.
* Marius von Mayenburg’s fast-moving farce about external beauty, identity and the brutality of capitalism, The Ugly One in Tron Theatre Company’s summer comedy directed by Debbie Hannan.

Sherman Theatre, Cardiff and Tron Theatre Company will present Jo Clifford’s new version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (20-30 March, Press Night: Thu 21 March, 7.45pm). A bawdy and riotous take on a contentious classic, directed by Michael Fentiman, you are invited to step into a world where women hold all the power, the patriarchy is being challenged and new possibilities abound.  The summer comedy this year will be the Marius von Mayenburg farce translated by Maja Zade, The Ugly One (4 -20 July, Press Night: Friday 5 July, 7.45pm). Debbie Hannan will direct this hilarious and fast-moving piece that exposes some very ugly truths about our self-obsessed culture.

The main auditorium programme opens with Celtic Connections (18 Jan – 2 Feb), after which the theatre programme gets underway with Fuel’s production The Dark (15 & 16 Feb) about a four-year-old boy and his mother escaping a country divided by dictatorship and consumed by conflict. Shilpa T-Hyland will direct Perth Theatre’s production of Miss Julie (27 Feb – 2 Mar), in a version re-worked by Zinnie Harris and set in 1920s Scotland. The Tron are particularly pleased to be able to welcome back Tamasha for the Scottish premiere of Approaching Empty (5 Mar), an incisive new drama set in Northern England in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher’s death, by award-winning playwright Ishy Din.  imitating the dog present a bold re-telling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (7-9 Mar), a visually rich, multi-layered work fusing live performance with digital technology. Choreography, live sewing, comedy and original music come together in ThisEgg’s dressed. (14-16 Mar), celebrating the power clothes have to define us, liberate us, hide us and embellish us.

Mark Thomas is back, this time with Check Up Our NHS@70 (9-11 Apr), using his own demise to explore the state of the NHS. Let Me Look At You (12 & 13 Apr) is a hilarious and deeply moving celebration of LGBTQ history performed by Mark Pinkosh and written by Godfrey Hamilton, otherwise known as Starving Artists.  For young audiences, Tortoise in a Nutshell present The Lost Things (16 & 17 Apr), Oliver Emanuel’s dark fairy-tale where nothing is quite as it seems, performed in a unique dome structure.  Hilarious and heart-lifting, Tangram Theatre (who presented Team Viking in 2017) present A Hundred Different Words for Love (19 & 20 Apr), a story of romance, despair and friendship. Following overwhelming responses from previous runs at the Traverse Theatre and Abbey Theatre, Gary McNair’s Locker Room Talk (25-27 Apr) continues the conversation about misogyny and masculinity which has become even more urgent since its premiere.

The Changing House programme opens with performance artist Katy Dye’s Baby Face (7-9 Feb) a brave and outlandish show about the infantilisation of women.  Testroom 2019 (12 Feb) returns to showcase puppetry-making and performance skills ahead of performances at manipulate. Sonnet Youth, Scotland’s literary ravers, take up residence for a spoken word Weekender with Gigantic Lying Mouth (15 Feb) about the human desire to lie and Confessionals (16 Feb) a coming-of-age character piece set in an East End boozer. The tour de force that is Linda Marlowe gives voice to Steven Berkoff’s outrageous female characters in Berkoff’s Women (21-23 Feb) and there’s the Scottish premiere of In Other Words (5-7 Mar), a deeply moving love story exploring the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir examines the immigrant experience of the EU referendum in (Can This Be) Home (14-16 Mar) and Holly Gallagher presents her new show Tensile Strength (Or How To Survive At Your Wit’s End) (20-22 Mar) about stress and how so many of us feel it to an unhealthy degree. DUPed (4-6 Apr) explores the legacy and continuing impact the Reverend Dr. Ian Kyle Paisley and his Democratic Unionist Party on those who oppose extreme religious and social conservatism. Harry Josephine Giles brings bleak humour and tender fury in Drone (11-13 Apr), a live jam of sound, visuals and poetic storytelling about the life of a military drone.  Father (17-20 Apr) is the European premiere of an intimate work with mythical scope – an abusive parent/child relationship reflected in their wider relationship with Mother Nature and the evolution of our climate. Perth Theatre have the last Changing House show of the season with their fast-paced and irreverent Marie (25-27 Apr), a darkly comic new play inspired by the life of Mary Queen of Scots but given a distinctly modern twist.


FEATURE: Tron Ambassadors 2018

Since 2003 the Tron Theatre has enabled young people to experience a range of the career opportunities available within a modern fully-operational theatre via the one-year Tron Ambassadors scheme. Through the scheme the intention is to foster deeper connections with the Tron Theatre, and the work they do both in-house and within the community, as well as an understanding of the wider theatre and creative arts industries.

The Ambassadors take part in regular workshops with Tron staff, external visitors and leading professionals to identify and develop transferable skills.  Previous Tron Ambassadors have worked with the Tron’s production, marketing and front of house departments, theatre critics, set and costume designers and professional actors and directors.

This year, as well as the excellent opportunities and insight offered on the programme, the Tron Ambassadors will also be eligible to gain an Arts Award qualification from their full participation in the programme.

This year, I was again delighted to deliver the Theatre Criticism/Theatre Blogging workshop. As well as learning about the technical aspects of running a theatre website, we looked at the opportunities/transferrable skills that can help you pursue a career in different aspects of the arts, the pros and cons of running a theatre website and how to approach writing reviews.

As ever, the breadth of talent is truly inspiring and I am delighted to feature some of the Ambassadors’ reviews of National Theatre of Scotland and Theatre Gu Leòr’s play Scotties.

Head to the reviews section or click the link HERE to read.

TRON AMBASSADORS’ REVIEWS: Scotties – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Featured below is a selection of the reviews from this year’s Tron Ambassadors. I’m sure you’ll agree, the quality and insight is worthy of writers way beyond the years of these young people. Doubtless, ones to watch for the future.

The reviews that appear here are the unedited submissions by the writers. The writers range in age from 14 to 18 years of age.

Reviewer: Caitlin Scollin

Drawing from the real potato-picking Irish immigrants of 1936, Theatre Gu Leòr’s new play Scotties is innovative, shocking, and important to today’s audiences.

The lights go down as the play begins, and we see teenager Michael arguing with his Gaelic-speaking parents over a history project. He is tired, weighed down with homework, and embarrassed by his Gaelic heritage. After a visit from his grandmother, he falls asleep, drifting off just as figures in the distance begin to rise and sway. He is thrust into a field, and finds himself in 1930s Kirkintilloch. The audience are left just as clueless as him, as he wakes up in a completely different landscape, one that will mean more to him and his family than he could have ever expected.

Though I was initially thrown by the three different languages the play presented us with, by the end I forgot that I had once been worried by that. I could only understand the English properly, but I managed to understand the lines in different languages through the actors’ expressions. I found it captivating to watch, with so much to take in (through dialogue, movement, lighting, set, and music).

The play continues as Michael talks to Molly (the only character from the past that can see him, eventually revealed to be his own grandmother) and she explains their journey from Achill and introduces him to her “herd”. Michael stays with her for the rest of his time in the field, even when her friend professes his love for her and when their bothy is set on fire. I was enchanted by the magic in the story, and the melodic Gaelic chanting. The audience feel as if they are intruding, as the names of those who died in the fire are read out (named just once in the play as a mark of respect) and Molly weeps over the coffin. We watch her descend into isolation, refusing to even talk to her own daughter- Michael’s grandmother- as she raises her in Scotland too.

Scotties is a play about our relationship with the past, but it is also relevant to modern times. For example, the plaque placed to remember the Scotties in Kirkintilloch was immediately defaced in 2013, confirming tensions between Irish and Scottish communities even nowadays. It also tackles the issue of immigration all over the world. We begin to realise that it isn’t strictly an idea of the past, for people to flee one place to make better lives for themselves, and then be treated with hostility wherever they land. History does tend to repeat itself. The play makes a good point of talking about this in the very last scene.

Accompanied by a clever use of lighting and an interesting and efficient set, the cast dance and sing their way through a whirlwind hour and a half. One of the most memorable scenes is a dance where half the characters pick up instruments and half fall into a traditional dance that it was impossible not to smile at. The play is good at this, incorporating funny and lighthearted scenes in a heartbreaking and raw performance. I found myself crying towards the end, from where the pivotal fire was set to the very last scene.

Reviewer: Jennifer Wright

Recently I had the pleasure of seeing “Scotties” at the Tron Theatre. I had no idea that it was possible to not comprehend the language throughout the majority of a play, yet still be able to understand the raw emotion presented.

Muireann Kelly and Frances Poet’s jointly written play centres around the Glasgow teenager, Micheal (Ryan Hunter) and thoroughly explores and celebrates Scottish culture.  A school history project leads Micheal to slip into a dream where he can see clearly the lives of the boys who died in the Kirkintilloch tragedy just prior to the fire. He witnesses the final days of the boys who died as well as their experiences as Irish workers living in poverty during the early 1900s. However, Michael is only able to communicate with Molly (Faoileann Cunningham) who guides him through the past and shows what it means to be a migrant worker in Scotland in the 1930s.

While the challenge of working in multiple languages may seem daunting to some, the cast of ‘Scotties’ not only executed the play with utter passion and clarity but were also to convey to the audience the plot and dialogue through powerful acting where other actors would severely struggle to evoke anything other than complete confusion.  Every actor had their own unique and dynamic presence and complemented each other’s performance well. There was no weak link in ‘Scotties’ making for an incredibly enjoyable and emotional evening.

Although, it is not only the acting that should be applauded here; choreographer Jessica Kennedy must be recognised for her hauntingly beautiful movement that complimented the plot, dialogue, and music (by Laoise Kelly) perfectly. Moments that could easily have been glossed over became pivotal scenes due to the immaculate choreography.  Overall the creative team’s choices made a play that could have come off as confusing and predictable, an utter success. They managed to find the delicate balance between overdone and completely sporadic, resulting in a fascinatingly surreal play that truly mesmerised the audience.

“Scotties” is a truly spectacular play which explores a part of Scottish history that is not nearly talked about enough, presenting themes that are still prevalent in today’s society. This incredible show will not be soon forgotten, nor, hopefully, will the messages conveyed throughout.

Reviewer: Lucy Robinson

Scotties, by Muireann Kelly and Frances Poet, follows the story of a young boy, Michael, living in modern-day Glasgow, and his journey to rediscovering his Irish roots through his investigation of a historic fire that killed ten boys in a Scottish bothy.

Spoken in an at first confusing, but generally effective combination of Gaelic and English, it explores the background of both Irish and Scottish languages to produce a very thought-provoking piece. It cleverly drew parallels between past and present immigration, and the tension it creates within communities, which helped to make the themes much more accessible to any audience.

The set’s drab browns and greys, echoing the dreary landscape of agricultural Scotland between the wars, was offset by lighting, designed by Simon Wilkinson, that managed to transform each scene to fit the atmosphere.

Accompanied by traditional folk music that although will tug at the heartstrings of any patriotic Scot, is often haunting and eerie. Each cast member is both an actor and musician, with a particularly good piping performance from Alana MacInnes, and Ryan Hunter’s promising debut as Michael.

Reviewer: Molly Knox

Theatre Guleòr’s latest production ‘Scotties’ is a beautiful triumph that balances a tender and flowing physicality and dialogue with witty, refreshing and funny characters. The piece was inspired by a telegram, sent from Ireland following the death of ten young men from Achill in a Bothy fire in Kirkintilloch and explores not only this untold tragedy but so many valuable issues that relate heavily to today’s world.

When you first take a seat before the show begins, you are sat face to face with a stunning set (that is used throughout the show as a means of delicate and elaborate story-telling) covered in soil, a number of theatre gauzes and a simplistic set of wood furniture; these features being a bleak yet humble reminder of life’s cycle, that we all return to the earth we abide on. I particularly appreciated the use of contrast in the lighting used as it conjured up not only feelings of joy and nostalgia, but of hauntingly elegant grief. The use of live music was also very charming; the traditional Scottish and Irish instruments like fiddles, pipes and accordions made my experience all the more raw in both the light-hearted and solemn moments of the play.

Ryan Hunter’s charismatic, tongue-in-cheek portrayal of Michael, a teenage boy from modern day Glasgow, added a sense of down-to-earth comedic relief that balanced very well with the gritty, fragile aspects of the stirring plot and emotive characters. Every single actor clearly gave their all to the performance and created many moments of powerful, hard-hitting theatre. In particular, one scene between Faoileann Cunningham (playing Molly) and Colin Campbell, where both actors gave breath-taking and heart-breaking performances.

Whilst watching ‘Scotties’ I couldn’t help but notice the important issues and themes woven into the roots of the play itself- be they political or a lesson in human kindness, ‘Scotties’ had me questioning things. From the way we treat and view immigrants, to intergenerational and family relationships, to grief and loss and even the role of identity in one’s life.

Additionally, I found the use of both Scottish and Irish dialect and language alongside English to be especially effective in adding realism to the piece, and as somebody who doesn’t speak a word of Gaelic, ‘Scotties’ was completely accessible and understandable! The incorporation of more than one language into the dialogue is something uniquely brilliant to ‘Scotties’ and Theatre Guleòr’s work as a whole. The writers, Muireann Kelly and Frances Poet had clearly put an immense amount of thought into everything; from combining English and Gaelic into the production in a coherent way for both Gaelic and non-Gaelic speakers, to having a good balance of light and shade all through the piece.

Overall, after leaving the theatre from seeing ‘Scotties’ I felt refreshed by every detail of the production.  So, if you’re looking for an inspiring piece of theatre full to burst with witty perspectives and commentary on the new and old, met with a moving story that brings to light a tragedy that had been long forgotten- then I suggest you book tickets to see Theatre Guleòr’s ‘Scotties’!

For more information on the Tron Ambassadors programme visit: https://www.tron.co.uk/education/tron_ambassadors/



REVIEW: South Bend – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

The problem with actor/playwright Martin McCormick’s autobiographical (or so he claims) South Bend, is that the minute he asks the audience to “trust me”, it has the opposite effect. You desperately want to believe this tall tale, but the nagging seed of doubt is sown in those two words. That said, there’s no doubt that this is precisely what McCormick wants to achieve in his theatrical road movie.

Obsessed since childhood with the US, he dreams of the world of Saved by the Bell, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Blossom and Seinfeld. When he eventually arrives for a semester at college in California, his every childhood dream is fulfilled. There he falls in love. Unfortunately, his time there is limited, and he has to return home. With promises from his love to visit him in Scotland ringing in his ear, he heads home.

When time passes, and the phone doesn’t ring, he heads to South Bend, Indiana to find his girl. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go to plan. On the receiving end of hostilities from his girlfriend’s step-mother, McCormick finds himself in a domestic version of Dante’s nine circles of hell.

How much of these antics are actually reflective of McCormick’s real experiences is questionable but the quality of the storytelling is just enough to entertain. McCormick is a better playwright than actor and his delivery does detract at times, it plays like someone playing the part of McCormick, rather than the person who is supposed to have experienced this madness.

Live foley artist David A. Pollock effectively provides the on-stage sound effects and a very Glaswegian voice of reason and Jess Chanlieu is chameleon-like playing all other characters.

South Bend is ultimately an undemanding, entertaining hour of theatre, but there’s a nagging feeling that it could have been so much more.

Image: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan


Tron Theatre Company has announced that the centrepiece of the autumn season will be its staging of one of the most extraordinary, hilarious and surreal plays in modern theatre: Ballyturk by Enda Walsh. This will be the first British production of this contemporary masterpiece and it will be the final work in a small but significant Irish season this autumn at the Tron.

A world is out there, imagined within the four walls of a room inhabited by two men. Will they ever escape to see it in reality? A moving meditation on the brevity of our existence, Ballyturk is the mundane village redolent of Dylan Thomas’s Llareggub in Under Milk Wood, viewed through a Truman Show style filter of confirmed artificiality. Explosions, both literal and imagined, music and exhilarating physical comedy punctuate beautifully poetic renderings of life in the type of small town we have all visited, and most likely, lived in.

Andy Arnold has assembled a stellar company and creative team to present Enda Walsh’s exuberant, funny and gut-wrenchingly sad tour de force of a production. With Simon Donaldson and Grant O’Rourke as 1 and 2 and Wendy Seager as 3, Ballyturk will be designed and lit by the same team who worked on The Lonesome West, Michael Taylor and Mark Doubleday. Danny Krass will provide sound design and Kim Beveridge the AV design.

Running time: approx.100 minutes (no interval)



Tron Theatre, 63 Trongate, Glasgow G1 5HB Dates: 4-20 October 2018 Tickets: £9-£17 Box Office: 0141 552 4267 or http://www.tron.co.uk 

REVIEW: Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of) – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Sometimes a production comes along that sends you to the street with a smile on your face, The Tron Theatre Company and Blood of the Young’s Pride and Prejudice* (*Sort Of) is one (sort of).

Promising to deliver a re-worked version of the Jane Austen classic for a 21st Century audience, it certainly delivers on that front: the five-strong, all-female cast doubling and tripling up on roles male and female; a script choc-full of clever lines; a host of visual jokes; characters clad in Regency garb belting out classic pop tunes through a karaoke machine and scoffing cereal straight from the box; social parallels (unfortunately) travelling down the 200 years since the work was written, it may well strike a chord with a youthful audience, however, the production is not without its faults.

While promoted as entertaining for those unfamiliar with the work, it could be argued that much of the humour only really hits home with a knowledge of the original text, otherwise it’s rendered surface and slapstick and while, to its credit, little of the original plot is sacrificed in this re-telling, that itself is a problem, at over two hours 45 minutes, for all its ability to entertain and amuse, it is a physical marathon.

Its greatest asset is its universally excellent cast. Meghan Tyler is a particularly appealing Lizzie and the sheer joy with which the cast tackle the lengthy script, singing and slapstick can’t fail to impress.

A brave choice for adaptation, and a largely effective and highly entertaining evening’s theatre from a top-notch cast, but far from perfect.

Runs until 14 July 2018 | Image: John Johnston

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Ma, Pa and the Little Mouths – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

It’s into the insular world of the reclusive Ma and Pa that we eavesdrop in award-winning actor and playwright Martin McCormick’s Ma Pa and the Little Mouths. The play, presented as a rehearsed reading as part of last year’s Mayfesto, now returns fully-formed to The Tron.

Ma and Pa are isolated in their high rise flat. Literally blocked-off from the outside world. Pa’s weekly shopping trips the only contact with whatever’s out there. Their days spent passing the time telling each other ever-more absurd tales. Into this world falls Neil, a woman Pa finds hiding under a car in the street outside. They give her refuge, but in the act of opening that door, their lives and hers are changed inexorably.

In turn absurdist and surrealist, but always captivating, McCormick’s piece wears its influences on its sleeve, there are undoubted nods to Harold Pinter in pace and tone, and to a lesser extent to the output of Philip Ridley, though much more palatable, of wider appeal and a whole lot less in-your-face and absolutely of Eugène Iionesco, the master of portraying the insignificance of human existence. The non-linear narrative may prove challenging to some but there’s plenty of humour to delight, the language rich and the dialogue has a hypnotic rhythm of its own. The petty resentments of a long-term relationship, deftly written by McCormick, are delivered as pithy one-liners, and thrown at each other like perfectly formed weapons.

The much-loved comedy actor Karen Dunbar (Ma) is a local favourite and having already shown her acting chops playing Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days, at this very venue, the character of Ma, seems like a perfect fit. While she delivers the lion’s share of the laughs, there’s an air of barely hidden menace under the razor-sharp retorts. Dunbar is maturing into an actress of great depth. Veteran Scottish actor Gerry Mulgrew delivers a beautifully measured performance as Pa.

As the piece progresses, hints emerge as to the deeper tragedy that underlies this existence. At a compact 180 minutes, while challenging, McCormick’s work is always creative and utterly captivating.

Runs until 12 May 2018 at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow then at the Traverse, Edinburgh from 16-19 May 2018 | Image: John Johnston

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: The Brothers Karamazov – Tron Theatre, Glasgow

Four central performances of considerable strength mark Richard Crane and Faynia Williams’ revived production of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov as the highlight of the Tron Theatre’s 35th anniversary season.

Notoriously difficult to translate, thought to be un-stageable and widely regarded as one of the greatest achievements in world literature, it is a daunting task indeed to take Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 900 page masterpiece and turn it into a play. To distil its grand themes onto a 100 minute running time, would seem like utter madness, but that is exactly what Crane and Williams have managed to do.

While impossible to reproduce the detail of the novel, or tackle all of its philosophical questions, in sticking to its most major ethical debates: faith, free will and, of fundamental importance to the work, familial relationships, this ground-breaking adaptation manages to leave its mark and provoke discourse.

The performances are quite literally grounded in the earth on the functional, compact, multi-layered circular set which is beautifully lit by Sergey Jakovsky’s lighting design.

The quartet of actors alternate roles within the play, while also delivering fundamental characterisations of the four brothers. Sean Biggerstaff (Ivan), Tom England (Alyosha), Thierry Mabonga (Dmitry) and Mark Brailsford (Smerdyakov) gel perfectly together and the differences between the four are clearly marked and beautifully realised. Biggerstaff (Ivan) particularly shines in his though-provoking speech as the Grand Inquisitor to Alyosha as Christ as does the mercurial Mabonga in his portrayal of Dmitri’s self-destruction.

This striking adaptation perfectly mixes the classic with the contemporary and lingers in the memory long after the lights go down.

Runs until 28 October 2017 | Image: Contributed

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub at: http://www.thereviewshub.com/the-brothers-karamazov-tron-theatre-glasgow/

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