Filed under: creativity, theatre, writing | Tags: john dove, John Stienbecxk, lyceum theatre edinburgh, of mice and men, Scottish Theatre, theatre
I’m off to the Lyceum for the first read through of the script for “of Mice and men:”. John Steinbeck’s classic.
It comes to the theatre in mid- February and here is the synopsis as posted by The Lyceum…
Armed with nothing but hope, and the dream of one day living and working on their own land, George and his childishly innocent companion Lennie start work on a ranch.
New friendships are made and at first life looks good, until gentle Lennie, unaware of his own immense strength, unwittingly shatters their dreams in one disturbingly tragic act.
This is theatre at its most powerful.
The Boss/Whit………Greg Powrie
Curley’s Wife………..Melody Grove
Filed under: advertising, Arts, books, business, creativity, family, gigs, golf, humour, life, movies, photography, Scotland, stories, theatre, tv, videos, work | Tags: 2011, 2011 in hindsight, best of 2011, gibberish, mark gorman, review iof 2011
2011 was rather less fraught than 2010. I didn’t work to such ridiculous extremes, and the year end saw my portfolio change quite considerably compared to 12 months ago. Three big new clients at year end were Maidsafe, Vets2 and Front Page Design, all autumnal starters and all brilliant to work with. My STV contract finally came to an end after three years but its been great and I am very grateful to them for all the work.
Some old troopers still stand by me; 60 Watt, Paligap, The Usability Lab, Corporation Pop, Ampersand and LA Media, with occassional work from a small number of others.
To you all; slainte and have a great 2012.
If my golf was bad in 2010 it beggared belief in 2011. I gave up my membership at Dundas Park and clearly that did not have a galvanising effect on my game. I was shit awful on both trips of the year and even my winter game has been poor.
We didn’t go away as a family in 2011, for a variety of reasons but I had the holiday (maybe an exaggeration to call it that) of a lifetime in June when Ria and I went to Glastonbury. To say it was memorable would be something of an understatement. There is one abiding memory of it, I have to say…the bogs.
But there were other memorable sights and moments, like this…
Which brings me onto my musical highlights of the year.
My best of CD which you can have if you like included these tracks…
In a good year for music my song of the year, without question, was Video Games by Lana Del Rey.
My albums of the year were;
Bad as Me by Tom Waits (overall my favourite record)
Let England Shake by PJ Harvey
You and I by The Pierces
The English Riviera by Metronomy
A creature I don’t know by Laura Marling
50 Words for Snow by Kate Bush
Hotel Shampoo by Gruff Rhyss
Build a Rocket Boys by Elbow who also performed the gig of the year at Glastonbury (closely followed by King Creosote at The Liquid Rooms)
A different Kind of Love by Bombay Bicycle Club
21 by Adele
I did a lot of cinema in 2011…
Here’s what I thought of what I saw in my IMDB profile…
Two ten out of tens and a few nines show that it was also a good year for movies. In retrospect I plump for three as my best of the year
A Separation and
On TV This is England 2008 moved me to tears and was by far the year’s greatest offering. I liked Top Boy too.
I didn’t read a great deal this year but have really enjoyed
The Brothers Sisters by Patrick DeWitt.
The Childrens Hospital by Chris Adrtian.
And Filthy English, The How, Why When and What of Everyday Swearing by Pete Silverton.
But the best read of the year by far was…The Guardian which I grow deeper in love with.
This was a big year of theatre for me. I reckon I saw at least 20 different productions but easily the stand out was Dance Marathon in which Jeana and I and Chris and Liam danced our asses off for five hours before I was told I was relentless by the Producer. We also had amazing nights at The Kings for James Cordon in One Man, Two Guvnors and The Lyceum for both Dunsinane and Age of Arousal.
This year was sadly marked by way too much illness among our friends for me to want to dwell on but Matt, David and Jenny I am thinking of you now.
Also, we lost James King, Joyce Cambell and Fiona Pirie from FCT and Rachel Appolinari at the outrageous age of 19. RIP all of you. xxx
All of the family have blossomed in the past year, thank God, and long may it continue. In particular Amy has shown an almost exponential growth in confidence and skills in many different areas.
2012 is University year for Tom and Ria should they both choose to go down that path.
And so, to 2012. It’s the year I turn 50, Amy 21, Tom and Ria 18 and I aim, with Pete the Meat, to lose at least 50 pounds each before we turn 50 in May. We are raising money to do so and you’ll soon hear of our plans.
Thanks for being my reader once again in 2011. My year end Technorati rating was an all time high closing in on a top 1% of all the blogs in the world rating.
16,000th out of 1.2 million.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, theatre | Tags: beauty and the Beast, Christmas show, pantomime, royal lyceum theatre edinburgh, Scottish Christmas shows, Scottish Pantomime
I’m not going to get all philosophical about The Lyceums Christmas Show (we don’t do panto’s you know) because it’s not meant to be anything much more than a joyous night out for all the family.
And you know what? It’s a joyous night out for all the family.
I took my wife, sister, two friends and a four year old boy. And we all loved it equally.
Charlie, the four year old, was suitably terrified by the barnstorming performance of Angela Clerkin as Crackjaw, the evil witch and recipient of most of the evening boo’s and sssss’s.
Ruth Milne as The Beauty puts in just the sort of performance you’d expect; adorable, soft and charming with a tiny hint of steel towards the end and Andrew Rothney as Martin and The Beast does an excellent job in the role.
I’ve written before about the excellent comic talent of Nicola Roy who was a stand out in Educating Agnes. She goes one better here in collaboration with Karen Traynor as the two “ugly sister” type characters Hannah and Hazel the vain and nasty elder sisters of Beauty. Nicola Roy’s use of the vernacular is truly hilarious and the theatre lights up every time they step on stage for a bit of banter.
The whole thing is bound together by excellent underscoring, a good set and lighting design with one terrfic lighting effect that I won’t let out the bag and sympathetic direction from Neil Murray.
Of course at its core is a really great, nicely contemporary, without trying too hard, script from Scottish stage stalwart; Stuart Paterson.
A great night out assured. I can promise you that.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, theatre | Tags: James Corden, National Theatre, one guy two guvnors
I’ve seen both National Theatres this week.
The National Theatre of Scotland on Wednesday; which put on a very thought provoking, intellectual production (27) in conjunction with The Lyceum – it was very good… striking, poignant and absorbing (although the lady behind me in the queue for returns at The Kings and Joyce McMillan both took a different point of view) – and The National who have laudably taken their Lytellton Theatre spring hit out to the provinces.
The expectation has been bit of a tsunami here in Scotland with review after review proclaiming the genius of this show.
Miraculously, I never even realised it was playing in Edinburgh until Thursday but persuaded Jeana that it was worth a punt to stand in the returns queue for the matinee.
We struck gold. Central seats in the stalls six rows from the front.
And, oh my god, what treasure we found.
I’ll deal with the one bad bit first…The second act has so many plot details to resolve that it slightly runs out of steam and nearly got in the way of Corden and Co’s standing ovation.
But it didn’t!
Now for the manna.
This is outrageously good entertainment. Completely and utterly unpretentious theatre for the masses. I tell you, if you scooped up 1,500 randoms from Princes St, Leith Walk, anywhere in Edinburgh and dumped them in the Kings and said ” Right, fuck what you think of theatre and its lovey dovey connotations and just watch this” they too would be on their feet at the end like me.
This is cultural gold.
It’s like the best bits of every pantomime you ever saw. The central scene in which Corden waits a meal for his two masters in The Cricketers Arms restaurant area is so slapstick, so outrageous, so brilliant that I think a little bit of wee wee escaped from me.
In the first act James Corden performs gladiatirially.
It’s immense. It’s unforgettable. It’s uncompromising and yet, and yet, he has a supporting cast of 16 around him that he cannot overshadow, so great is their contribution to this brilliant, brilliant piece of unaffected entertainment.
I could go on and on and on about this. But that would only spoil it. Clearly adaptations of 16th Century Italian farces still have great life in them if you get the best writers involved.
I simply cannot recommend this show highly enough. It transfers back to London (West End) next month and it is unmissable.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, Scotland, theatre | Tags: 27, abi morgan, Altzheimers disease, national theatre of Scotland, Royal Lyceum, Vikki featherstone
Once again, I declare my RLTC interests before sharing my views on this really interesting night in the theatre.
Abi Morgan’s new play for National Theatre of Scotland and The Royal Lyceum Theatre is a slow burning thought piece. Over five Acts it gradually unfolds its subtle pickings as it runs through the theatrical gearbox with ease.
Although Maureen Beattie takes marketing centre-stage it’s by no means all about her (although her performance purrs) and, in fact, it’s Nicholas Le Prevost who overcomes a slowish start to increasingly dominate the proceedings.
I’m not going to dwell on the plot because it would be too easy to spoil it by revealing the action.
In some ways the action is not really that important because this is a polemical, rather than plot-based, play about two opposing “kirks”: science and religion. But it’s obvious that what drives blind science and blind faith is…err…blind belief. Read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and you will see exactly what I mean.
The need for order, belief, integrity and singlemindedness are every bit as important in a convent as they are in a lab and this play explores deeply the integrity of belief.
It’s thoroughly thought provoking and it is delivered via a totally engaging, and yet, at times, humorous, but at all times riveting script.
The set is astounding. A brutalist concrete bunker that could at once be a university, the Catholic grotto at Carfin or a business hotel foyer where business has to be done.
And business does have to be done
The cast are great.
I loved Maureen Beattie’s unemotional and consequently hugely sympathetic performance as the convent boss elect. Her predecessor, the ageing Sister Miriam, played by Colette O’Neil was wonderful: what a part for an actor of a certain age. And the newbie, the loose cannon that is Audrey, brilliantly builds her character throughout. I enjoyed Molly Innes’ performance in Wondrous Flitting (for me the stand out performance in that show) and she delivers again as the agent provocateur of the conservative Catholic church.
This play neither belittles nor celebrates religion. It challenges scientific orthodoxy and as a result weaves a fine line between all camps leaving you, the viewer, to use your brain.
Oh, I nearly forgot. It’s about Alzheimers disease.
And it’s only on for three weeks.
You, like me, will probably want to go twice, so move it.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, theatre | Tags: communicado, Dundee rep, Emily Winter, lyceum, lyceum theatre edinburgh, mary queen of scots got her head chopped off, myra mcFadzean, Tony Cownie
OK. Before I write anything I have to declare my interest as a director on the Lyceum board. If that invalidates my thoughts in your mind dear reader then I understand. So be it. I speak with honesty not nepotism. Take it or leave it.
So, the opening of The Lyceum’s new season (in collaboration with the wonderful Dundee Rep) has been highly anticipated in this particular household having seen the original production of this fabulous play in the 1987 when it was premiered by Communicado, and performed at The Lyceum.
The first and most important reason that we were so excited about it is that Liz Lochhead wrote it. And boy can our Makar write. I was in tears of laughter at Educating Agnes which the Lyceum staged in the spring, and although this production has many moments of humour it’s not a comedy.
Instead it is a breathtaking ensemble piece which firmly nails Lochhead’s views on the union between Scotland and England through the insanely close relationship between two cousins, both queens, one a virgin, one almost a floozie.
The queens in question dominate the action and of course we all have to have favourites, mine was Mary played with a beautiful gaelic/french lilt by Shauna Macdonald. Flame haired and feisty she was nevertheless in the thrall of the more dominant but deeply self absorbed Elizabeth played by Emily Winter. Whilst MacDonald has a steady and absorbing presence that grows with the play Winters’ is more stacatto, punctuating the play with many of its high points, especially when she brainwashes Darnley before his trip north to seduce and ultimately marry Mary.
The play, both modern and historical in one, is directed with real verve and gusto by Tony Cownie and the design by Neil Murray is well observed and funny.
It’s great. Not just because of the fantastic script, but in the performances of the whole cast in particular the aforementioned queens and Liam Brennan who really is at the top of his game as a snarling, spitting John Knox that makes many a Catholic squirm uncomfortably in their seat.
Whilst Ann Louise Ross has been pulling rave reviews as Corbie (the Crow) narrator I preferred Myra McFadzean’s performance in Communicado’s original production. I also thought her performance in Age of Arousal trumped this.
A resounding yes for this production although for all of our group its resolution was probably the weakest point.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, family, humour, Scotland, theatre | Tags: 2011 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Bluemouth Inc, dance marathon, David Greig, David Paul Jones, fct, FORK, forth childrens theatre, grid iron, marc almond, mark kermode, Oedipus, Pink Noise, Royal Lyceum theatre company, steven berkoff, Ten PLagues, the observer, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia GHart, what remains
It may seem a little disingenuous for me to offer my thoughts on a Fringe when, like most mortals, holding down a day job makes it hard to see as many shows as the legion of professional critics get to see – and not to mention the fact that I was effectively staging my own production (as Chairman of FCT who put on ten exhilarating performances of The Chess Game).
But, if I was to use complete objectiveness as my watchword for blogging you’d all be desperately dissapointed. I’m sure my predilection for frankness makes for a more interesting read.
I read with delight an extended extract from Mark Kermode’s biography in the Observer earlier today and I realise his style is one that I aspire to. His destruction of Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbour made me laugh out loud and lick my lips.
It was a Fringe dominated by shows from the collosus of Scottish new writing; The Traverse. I saw no fewer than 6 of their shows but it should be pointed out that these threw up a wide mix of collaborators; not least my own beloved Lyceum who produced a high octane multi-character, three-hander called Wondrous Flitting which had many amusing moments and a very fine performance by Molly Inness in particular.
But their collaborations also included the NToS, Grid Iron and Blue Mouth Inc; all of which I enjoyed.
I’m desperately sorry that I missed Mission Drift which was, I suspect, the pick of the bunch but the following all inspired me;
The Strange Undoing of Prudentia Hart shows what a collossus of Scottish writing David Greig is; this site specific show, set in the nearby Ghillie Dhu pub, had both Jeana and I in stitches and full of awe at a quite remarkeable ensemble performance. Outstanding.
The second site specific show I saw was What Remains. Set in the Anatomy School of Edinburgh University, and produced by Grid Iron it was the nearest one gets to outright horror on stage. Driven remarkably by its writer, David Paul Jones, it begins with a highly intense (scary actually) twenty minute opening movement from a Concerto for piano written and performed by the aforementioned Jones. It was electric. What follows is the story of Jones’ descent into madness. Part Bella Lugosi, part Anthony Hegarty, part Luis Bunuel, part Hammer House of Horror this show absolutely blew me away and at one point a certain plot devise pretty much made me let go of my bowels. Jones is simply wonderful as he acts sings and plays the piano in a one man tour de force.
My third Traverse pick is Dance Marathon. Again Jeana and I attended and this was a joy from start to finish. Following the recent trend, it too is site specific and the action took place in The Lyceum’s rehearsal studios in which the audience IS the cast and we dance for four hours (we went to a super long performance on the show’s last night). Pouring with sweat at the denoument in which Jeana and I failed to be crowned King and Queen of the dancefloor in a dance, poetry, song and video smorgasbrod of excellent entertainment I was approached by Bluemouth’s producer who said she’d been watching me all night and declared me “Awesome and relentless”. My proudest moment on this year’s Fringe.
Lastly, Marc Almond’s performance in Ten Plagues was awesome. Very moving.
My other notable show this year was Berkoff’s Oedipus at The Pleasance which was brilliant. The Greek Chorus of mainly old and middle aged men stole the show in a way choruses rarely do. It was a little let down by the casting of Anita Dobson as Oedipus’ object of affection but it was not enough to stop tis being a top class show.
I saw FORK’s amusing Pink Noise but it fell short of completely convincing me that every sound emanating from this Finnish a Capella group was indeed man made.
All things considered though my personal Fringe First goes to Dance Marathon for the most invigorating (physically as much as intellectually) four hours I’ve spent in a theatre.
Filed under: advertising, Arts, business, creativity, humour, life, Scotland, theatre | Tags: advertising, edinburgh festival fringe, street ad, The fringe
Filed under: advertising, Arts, business, creativity, theatre, Youtube | Tags: australia, sydney, sydney opera house
A beautiful piece of commercial branding for Sydney Opera House that captures range and emotion in equal measure. A Nick Cave song (the Ship Song) in case you were wondering.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, gigs, humour, life, Scotland, stories, theatre, Uncategorized | Tags: Ankur productions, Catherine wheels, CATS AWards, Clare Grogan, Dundee rep, Festival Theatre, Joyce McMillan, knives in hens, Pachamama productions, Roadkill, Royal Lyceum theatre, Scottish Theatre, sweeney Todd, The TRaverse Theatre, White
It was the ninth CATS Awards held at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh yesterday and the event had a real sense of achievement about it. Presented by Joyce McMillan and Clare Grogan we were treated to excellent potted reviews of each of the four shortlisted candidates in 10 categories of Scottish theatre by the great and the good of the Scottish Critics.
I got a real sense of us being in a “golden age” of theatre. So many great shows, my only regret was that I had not seen them all. In particular I wish I had seen White by Catherine Wheels (which won three times), The Three Musketeers and The Princess of Spain (at the Traverse) which sounded simply hilarious and the overall winner (which I tried to see); Roadkill again at The Traverse.
When you stand back and look at the real influence at work here the Traverse really does stand tall in it all, notwithstanding the fact that my own declared interest (The Lyceum ) has had a season to die for and another on the way and the incredible success of Dundee Rep’s Sweeney, many of the nominees were touched by the Trav, performed there or their writers had made their way through its hallowed doorway.
I know too that not everyone always loves the National Theatre of Scotland but with three different productions shortlisted here (not to mention Knives in Hens which is currently playing at, yes, The Trav and Dunsinane (the Lyceum) which was not eligible, its influence is there to be seen.
Highlight of the day? Mary Brennan’s (slightly long but wholly hilarious) “performance” as she extolled the virtue of Scotland’s performance in the Children and Young People category which was won by White.
It’s a very great pity that although Roadkill is back for the Fringe again that hardly anyone can see it; indeed it’s already sold out.
The party afterwards, both in the Festival Theatre, but especially in Brass Monkey (A great wee boozer in Drummond Street) was fantastic.
It was so luvvieish that the lack of Dickie Attenburgh’s presence was about the only thing short of perfection.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, theatre | Tags: Afghanistan, alex salmond, David Grieg, Dunsinae, Edinbugh, iraq, Jonny Phillips, macbeth, margaret thatcher, national theatre of Scotland, politics, Roxana Silbert, RSC, scottish war, shakespeare, Siobhan Redmond, the guldf War, the gulf war, The Lyceum, The Royal Lyceum, the snp, tony blair, war
The Godfather Two showed that sequels can better their original by walking the same path but more deftly, building on its foundations with style, wit and great, great writing.
Dunsinane, is technically a sequel but could hardly be described as usurping its predecessor (Macbeth) as David Grieg neatly finds a way of avoiding the direct comparison by writing it in something approaching the modern vernacular.
And so, Macbeth is merely a plot device to set up a thoroughly modern parable on the pursuit of power and the appetite that man (and woman because Lady Macbeth, Gruach, is the hub of all the conflict in this extraordinary play) has for eternal conflict.
“Peace is not the normal state, peace is like the days when the sea is flat calm, the prevailing condition is war.” says King Malcolm (I think, and I paraphrase) to the English commander, and star of the show, Siward played monumentally by Jonny Phillips. And that’s what lies at the heart of this electrifying production; the fact that war is pretty much the need state of those in power, because war makes things happen. And I don’t mean war results in reshaping of civilisation, no, war turns the wheels of industry and is the dynamo for political momentum. The second world war was what got the world’s major economies booming after all. The Gulf War revitalised America’s sluggish economy.
Thatcher knew that when she blasted Argie to kingdom come.
Blair thought he did when he catapulted the UK into the single most futile decade of power-mongering.
However, where Thatcher sensed the mood of the nation and used the Falklands to reignite her popularity Blair just stuck his big bloody size tens in and created an absolute shambles around him. It’s Blair’s approach that drives the narrative of this play because the Post Macbethian 12th Century Scotland is a photofit of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Whilst the English may have assumed that Lady Macbeth (Gruach) left this mortal coil alongside her beloved husband, we soon find out that as the saying goes “to assume is to make an ass out of u and me.” Oh no, Gruach is very much alive and well and, as Queen, she believes her offspring are heir to the throne and by God she’s gonna do her damnedest to give them the chance to take their rightful place – even if that means sleeping with the enemy.
And so, Gruach (a mesmerising, flame haired Siobhan Redmond) emerges as the key political figure in this drama; she calls all the shots and she delivers them in an often tense and powerful dialogue between herself and Siward. Always on the front foot, driving the poor man crazy with both lust and frustration.
Meanwhile, the King of Scotland, Malcolm quietly (weakly?) surveys the scene with an air of weariness and a large degree of slightly camp cynicism, increasingly frustrated by Siward’s inability to strategically manage the conflict. His performance (by Brian Ferguson) is initially hysterically funny but gradually turns colder and more focused as the drama unfolds.
Both the directing (by Roxana Silbert) and the writing by David Grieg are breathtaking. Grieg doesn’t write a script so much as a wholesale political essay on the state of the nation that leaves you almost gasping at its vision and insight. Remember this play was written 18 months before Salmond swept to power in such a way that the state of the Union has never been more open to question in modern times. Surely conflict is a potential outcome.
And it’s the sheer range of this play that impressed me most. Starting out, frankly, like a Monty Python comedy (it really did stir up memories of Life of Brian) it moves gradually through a series of episodes to darker territory. Barely a minute passed in Act One without a chuckle, and often a belly laugh. Act Two starts as it left off, but only for moments before the real meat of the problem is tackled to almost preternatural effect.
Honestly this play reaches right inside of you. It moves along like a runaway Express, charged as it goes by a brilliant folk rock trio that inject pace and punctuation that is echoed by a duet of Gaelic singing lassies. And whilst the ending stutters just a little it’s a lean back moment as the curtain closes and one is transported back into the real world.
Or was what we were watching the real world?
This is Champions League stuff.
I’ve seen several immense performances on the Lyceum stage this year; Stanley Townsend, Peter Forbes and Frances Thorburn in particular, and there have been a number of incredible ensemble casts ; Age of Arousal and Earnest spring to mind.
But this has both.
And this has three, maybe four or five stellar performances; Siobhan Redmond of course, and Jonny Phillips, but so too Tom Gill as the boy soldier, Brian Ferguson as Malcolm and Alex Mann as the hilarious Egham.
Mark my words. They will be talking about this show in hushed tones many years from now.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, theatre | Tags: cats, Dundee rep, Educating Agnes, Mark Thomson, Muriel Romanes, peter Forbes, Royal Lyceum theatre, stellar quines, sweeney Todd, the age of arousal, theatre awards Scotland
Mark Thomson’s stunning season at The Lyceum has been rewarded by no fewer than six nominations at the CATS (Critics Awards for Theatre Scotland). That’s as many as the NToS. He’s up against some tough competition, not least in Roadkill which I fancy will do extremely well. But many of you will have read my reviews of the two shows in particular that are attracting attention;
Age of Arousal, is a stunning new co production with Stellar Quines. It has received nominations for best ensemble, best director (Muriel Romanes), best design and best production. Here’s what I thought of it in February;
Although I said previously ‘Our two leads’ this is in actual fact as ensemble a show as one could imagine…This is a play that is richly and deeply textured; interestingly realised with beautifully subtle sound, video and lighting design and costumes (designed in a third year project by Edinburgh School of Art Students) that for me were the best I’ve seen on the Lyceum stage in a long time….This is an absorbing two hours of entertainment with a feisty and often hilarious script that batters along holding you firmly in its thrall throughout…It’s a gem.
The Importance of Being Earnest . This was a hilarious theatrical evening and Joyce MacMilllan absolutely loved it, naming it as one of her theatrical highlights of 2010 in her annual round u. Mark Thomson got the recognition he so richly deserves as he is nominated as best Director. Here’s what I had to say at the time about Mark.
Mark Thomson is on fire.
His last six or so productions have not only been outstanding in my personal opinion, but also in that of the critics.
There are more stars kicking around the foyer of The Lyceum right now than in the Milky Way and that is because he, as artistic director, is mounting productions that are great. Really great.
Earnest is no exception. Although four acts long (usually three) it passes in the blink of an eye. Rarely have I seen a show crack along at such a ferocious pace. You really do need to keep your wits about you to catch all of the gags in this script.
Educating Agnes. I saw this show twice and my review of Peter Forbes seems vindicated as he is nominated for Best actor.
Peter Forbes as Arnolphe performed as commandingly as anyone I’ve seen on this stage in recent years. He stands alongside Stanley Townsend, in A view From The Bridge (for me at least), in this respect.
On stage for almost the duration and with at least 50% of the dialogue he never put a foot wrong. But much more than this, the interpretation he put into poor old Arnolphe’s twisted character, the labyrinthine logic that he applied to the morals and ethics of creating a concubine out of Agnes and the despair that ensues as it all goes horribly wrong is expressed through shrieks, hollers, quasimodo-like grimaces and bodily twists and turns that make you squirm in your seat.
He is epic.
Not bad to have three out of seven shows on the shortlist. So good luck Mark, Muriel and co at The Festival Theatre in June.
It’s nice to see also that Ria and I chose a goodie when we went to Dundee Rep to see Sweeney Todd because that too has been nominated (no fewer than five times!)
…if I were a professional critic, whose responsibilities include the reviewing of amateur productions, some with a lot of young people in the cast who are at an impressionable stage in their lives and perhaps lacking in confidence I might think twice before criticising…
- Their lack of confidence
- Their stiffness
- Their orchestra’s tempo
- Their Orchestra’s string section’s ability
- Their sceneshifting
- Their queues [sic]
- Their lead actors’ chemistry
- Their lead actor’s (age 11) caution
- Their sound timing
- Their direction
- Their choreography
- Their lack of rehearsal
- Their accents
- their body language…
But I’m not a professional critic.
Filed under: creativity, humour, theatre | Tags: Afghanistan, bassett, cairn energy, Christie O'Carroll, futility, james graham, lyceum, Lyceum Youth, lyceum youth theatre, scribbles, Traverse, war, wooten bassett, Youth theatre
This is Christie O’Carroll’s first, and stunningly, directed show for Lyceum youth and it is blessed with not only a cracking script by James Graham but also a gifted cast; in particular the quite mesmerising performance of Aaron Jones as the central and most troubled teen, Leo.
He’s not alone in deserving acting plaudits. For a start it’s an excellent ensemble show and cleverly written to give all 14 young actors their moments to shine. But inevitably there are stand outs. For me they were the aforementioned Aaron Jones who, although slight of build, puts in a gargantuan performance. In a smallish but rocket fuelled cameo (it’s much more than that really, but her spell in the limelight is a true short sharp shock) is Lucia D’Inverno as Lucy and throughout the laughs are provided by Hannah Joe Mackinlay as Zoe and on slightly more cerebral level by Tom Palmer as a quietly understated Amid.
The play delivers 40 minutes of changing mood and pace and centres on a school classroom in Wooton Bassett the day that a local hero is repatriated from Afghanistan in a wooden box. The dead ‘hero’ is Charlie an ex pupil and idol (in different ways) to many of the classmates. His death and the resulting ritual parade through Wooton Bassett are an incendiary device to the class who are inexplicably locked into their classroom by a particularly inept supply teacher just as the parade is about to happen. This enrages Leo who gradually winds up his classmates as he himself becomes convulsed by the situation.
This ignites a classroom discussion which covers just about every subject a class of fifth formers would typically cover in their social life; sex, politics, slagging each other off, sex, toilet humour, being gay or not, sex, x box versus PS3, sex and swearing. Oh, and sex.
It’s laugh out loud hilarious at times but gradually darkens as the mood swings from resentment at being excluded from the parade to bitter political ideological debate about the futility of war, nationalism (racism really), sexuality and religious belief.
It’s a tremendous script. It’s expertly directed and it leaves the audience really quite shell shocked. Although I have not yet seen Black Watch live I suspect it has that sort of visceral impact.
I strongly recommend that you see this.
The supporting performance consists of two one act dramas written by young writers on the Traverse’s Scribble initiative. Tonight I saw “Is this it?” ( a thought provoking and very mature piece by Kiera McIntosh-Michaelis & Alex Porter-Smith) and Bang by Kelly Sinclair, a highly amusing insight into life in a detention class. These pieces rotate on a performance by performance basis with four other, presumably very short, scripts. Each are acted (with scripts) by members of Lyceum Youth and both were very enjoyable.
Filed under: Arts, theatre | Tags: Edinburgh, lyceum, Lyceum Edinburgh, marilyn, marilyn monroe, The Royal Lyceum, theatre
Fame will go by and, so long, I’ve had you, fame. If it goes by, I’ve always known it was fickle. So at least it’s something I experience, but that’s not where I live.
I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.
I have feelings too. I am still human. All I want is to be loved, for myself and for my talent.
Marilyn Monroe, is perhaps the most famous woman in the world, ever!
OK, she may have been beaten to it by Mary, the mother of Christ, just as her son pipped John Lennon to the male crown.
Fame haunted Monroe all through her life and her complex personality, as demonstrated by the quotes above, confused not just the public and her biographers, but the lady herself. Just how dumb was she? It was hard totell at times. And the drugs didn’t help.
Her background as an abandoned orphan was a great driver but also a disturbing nightmare that she used rink and drugs to escape.
This lack of grounding no doubt contributed to her demons and dreadful lack of self worth.
So, put her in a hotel wing with Europe’s dazzling blonde intellectual arthouse love, Simone Signoret; the brainy blonde, on a trip to the US in March 1960 where she was about to win best actress Oscar for her role in Room at The Top, (the successful blonde) and what could possibly happen?
That’s the premise of this very interesting triple header directed by Philip Howard as a co production with the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.
But Signoret wasn’t there just to pick up her Oscar. She was accompanying her husband (the lucky blonde), Yves Montand (unseen) who was performing as male leade alongside Marilyn on the set of Let’s Make Love. (Not a career high, despite Cukor’s direction).
Meanwhile Monroe’s third Husband, Arthur Millar, types furiously away off stage as their marraige disintegrates (they divorced 10 months later).
Of course, Monroe gets the hots for Montand, which hardly helps matters as Signoret is deeply in love with Montand and remained married to him until her death in 1985.
Circling the cage is Monroe’s one real friend (it would seem, certainly in this context) her hairdresser and colourist Patti (played by Paulie Knowles). She acts as a compere of sorts in a similar way that Alfieri did in Millar’s View from the Bridge earlier this season.
The show is a mix of mirth (“The Communists ; they’re the poor people aren’t they” quips Monroe) and misery as Monroe’s grip on reality gradually unravels, thanks mainly to her terrible insomnia fuelled by endless bubbly and a cocktail of prescription drugs.
It’s sad to see, but subtly realised.
And realisation is the real strength of this show which is built around a startling performance by Frances Thorburn in the title role and ably abetted by French actress Dominique Hollier.
A knowledge of the period is useful for one’s enjoyment as the McCarthy Witch Trials provide subtle, but important, background noise to the events on stage.
The wardrobe of authentic period couture that Marilyn parades through several costume changes is a particular delight too.
Four stars. Boo boo bee doo.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, family, humour, jokes, life, theatre | Tags: gabriel, method acting, nativity play, st mgarets
Of course the Angel Gabriel as we all know was a surly bastard because Lucifer was having all the fun…
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, liberal, life, politics, Scotland, theatre | Tags: Edinburgh, Edinburgh Theatre, entrepreneurialism, female entrepreneurs, lesbian love, lesbian relationships, lesbians, Scottish Theatre, stellar quines, the age of arousal, the emancipation of women, The Lyceum, the remington typewritter, The Royal Lyceum, The royal lyceum theatre company, the sexual revolution, victorian britain, women and work, women's liberation
Just as Stanley Townsend playing Eddie Carbone frequently accused Rodolpho to be “not right, just not right” in the previous Lyceum production of A View From The Bridge, so a central plank of Muriel Romanes’ joint production with The Lyceum and Stellar Quines is the notion of homosexuality that cannot be said by it’s name; here Lesbian ladies are merely “odd”. But it amounts to the same.
In “A View” Rodolpho’s homosexuality was imagined by Eddie as a construct with which to castigate his foe; here it is a celebration of the two lead characters, Rhoda Nunn and Mary Barfoot who despite being a generation apart in age are Victorian entrepreneurs with a taste for each other as more than just business partners.
This could have made for a truly shocking dramatic premise but it’s shrugged off as “odd”, perhaps, but really nothing to get one’s knickers in a twist about.
Although I said previously ‘Our two leads’ this is in actual fact as ensemble a show as one could imagine, they are backed by a chorus of gaggling Macbethian sisters played outstandingly by Alexandra Mathie (truly amazing) and Molly Innes as the older, hopeless spinsters and Hannah Donaldson as the “pretty” sibling with a chance.
“Overbred” by 500,000, out of a population of two million, Victorian Britain needed women to look good if they were to have any chance in a male buyers’ market and the only two women in our cast of six that would have any chance are “pretty” Monica Madden and committed Dyke, Roda Dunn. The fact that they both fall for the same man makes for intriguing developments as the play unfolds, and surrounded by six women of exquisite talent Jamie Lee as Everard Barfoot has his work cut out to fly the flag for us blokes. That he succeeds with panache, wit and charm is testimony to his excellent performance.
This is a play that is richly and deeply textured; interestingly realised with beautifully subtle sound, video and lighting design and costumes (designed in a third year project by Edinburgh School of Art Students) that for me were the best I’ve seen on the Lyceum stage in a long time. Interestingly, my wife hated them. I’m so much more in touch with my feminine side it would seem.
This is an absorbing two hours of entertainment with a feisty and often hilarious script that batters along holding you firmly in its thrall throughout.
It’s a gem.
And it’s a real thought piece too; at its centre is the debate over the role that “work” played in liberating women from the shackles of domesticity. The arrival of the Remington typewriter to UK shores, and made centrepiece of this show, both physically and stylistically is a clear metaphor for women’s emancipation. But is it all good? Has it served its function. After all, by the 1960′s the typewriter was the focus for feminist ire as it had created exactly the opposite effect that this late 19th century passport to freedom so obviously delivered.
Motherhood and child rearing is examined too, suggesting that perhaps domesticity is not so bad. But in the play it’s wrapped up in sexuality and the power women (still) hold over hapless men who can’t see further than the end of that organ that so drives so many of us.
It’s complex indeed (just look at the number and variety of tags I’ve used in this post). And I’m not sure you’ll get all the answers or unravel all the themes in one sitting Certainly it’s more than worthy of second helpings. So, go, indulge yourself and maybe you’ll be back for more.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, family, humour, life, theatre | Tags: A view from the Bridge, arthur miller, betrayal, community, eddie carbone, edinburghg, greek theatre, Hope, illegal aliens, immigration, incest, love, Lyceum Edinburgh, richard conlon, stage, stanley townsend, The Lyceum, The Royal Lyceum, theatre
Life is about decorum, ritual, appropriate behaviour, pleasing one’s community and peers. Not acting instinctively, ferally, as one sees it. Because the community one lives within; the workplace, the neighbourhood, the church sets the standards and morals. No matter how much it might be inappropriate or even wrong it’s the rule of the crowd that defines the behaviour of the one.
When Eddie Carbone decides he’s against this collective spirit; driven by jealousy, lust and rage, the rule of the crowd in Italian Brooklyn is jettisoned and Eddie Carbone becomes a lone ranger with disastrously selfish consequences.
It’s a big theme and a big play. Probably Miller’s greatest, certainly the most thought-provoking I’ve had the privilege to experience. And experience is the right word to describe John Dove’s “View”.
I kid you not, this was the most compelling and jaw dropping night I have spent in a theatre in my existence. So powerful are the performances, most notably Stanley Townsend’s which held you in his thrall every moment he uttered a word, that theatre becomes a vehicle of transportation into another world. Other stand out performances are Richard Conlon’s Marco (restrained but ultimately very scary) and the inimitable Kath Howden. The whole is held beautifully together ( a la Greek Chorus) by Liam Brennan.
This is no ordinary play. The subjects it brings out; jealousy, homosexuality, incest, faith, community, life long love, hope are at the very core of one’s being and it does so in a way that is hugely provocative and actually, with a performance of this standard, really quite humbling.
This is not just a five star show; it’s five star+.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, life, Rants, Scotland, stories, theatre | Tags: A view from the Bridge, Arthur Milller, john dove, royal lyceum theatre Co
“They need answers, and in a way they don’t need telling problems so much. In our modern media there’s a tremendous saturation of what’s wrong, and what I try to do is to draw out what’s right.”
I’m sick of the current media blame culture, I really am.
Take the sacking of Stewart Stevenson because it snowed and he made light of it. Someone had to ge because it snowed. Take the MD of NI Water who didn’t repair the pipes quick enough because for 20 years the money for pipe-fixing was diverted into counter terrorism in the Province.
I could go on and on about the culture that stifles us today where heads must roll for evils done to us. How about we just moan clearly and concisely and then the problem gets fixed and we all move on.
Now, BP, that’s a different story. The MD of BP was in denial of the situation and couldn’t, seemingly, be arsed with fixing it. His head should have, and did, roll.
But, generally speaking, it’s all a bit wearing is it not?
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, jokes, Scotland, stories, theatre | Tags: Alexandra Mathie, Ben Deery, Cara Kelly, Kirsty Mackay, Lyceum Edinburgh, Mark McDonnell, Mark Thomson, melody gove, oscar wilde, royal lyceum theatre edinburgh, Sean Murray, Steven McNicoll, the importanace of being earnest, The Lyceum, The lyceum Theatre, Will Featherstone
Mark Thomson is on fire.
His last six or so productions have not only been outstanding in my personal opinion, but also in that of the critics.
There are more stars kicking around the foyer of The Lyceum right now than in the Milky Way and that is because he, as artistic director, is mounting productions that are great. Really great.
Earnest is no exception. Although four acts long (usually three) it passes in the blink of an eye. Rarely have I seen a show crack along at such a ferocious pace. You really do need to keep your wits about you to catch all of the gags in this script.
Some commentators have chosen to point out its current day relevance (particularly centred on a gag about Unionists and Liberals) but actually I thought it was very much a period piece that captured the hilarious mannerisms and manners of upper class England in a bygone time. Despite that, it is genuinely funny from start to finish, hilariously so in parts, and that is down to three things; Wilde’s astounding script, Thomson’s taught direction and the astonishing acting by the cast which consists of Kirsty Mackay, Will Featherstone, Cara Kelly, Steven McNicoll, Mark McDonnell, Alexandra Mathie, Ben Deery, Sean Murray, and Melody Grove.
The Autumn season used virtually the same casts in Romeo and Juliet and this show. Did it work as a double header? I’m not sure that I really saw the link but what I did see was two great shows. And the stand out over the piece had to be Will Featherstone as Romeo and Algernon – his performance as Algernon was utterly hilarious.
Lady Bracknell, played to perfection by Alexandra Mathie, was probably the show stealer on the night but really it’s an ensemble performance with not a single weak link.
It still has over a week to run and there are tickets available so get along. Trust me. You’ll thank me.
Filed under: Arts, movies, theatre | Tags: 1920s, cinema, classic horror, classic movies, Edinburgh, fear, horror, jeckyl and hyde, john barrymore, original horror, paramount moves, silent movie, usher hall
To celebrate Halloween Jeana and I went to see the 1920′s original production of Jeckyl and Hyde made by Paramount and starring John Barrymore.
It showed at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall foer one night only and was accompanied by the collosal Usher Hall organ.
To be honest it was hilarious in places and certainly bnot scary but some nice special effects, mainly achieved through double exposure. Here’s a few stills from the movie that I managed to capture on my G11. It was kinda dark as you can imagine so they could be better but you’ll get the general idea.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, Scotland, theatre | Tags: craig armstrong, Edinburgh, lyceum, Philip Pinsky, romeo and juliet, Royal Lyceum, Royal Lyceum theatre, shakespeare, theatre, Tony Cownie
It’s the thing these days to reinvent Shakespeare to the point that the Shakespeare inside is barely recognisable. The Lyceum don’t do this. Two year’s ago the Lyceum’s Macbeth was heavily criticised for this but I really enjoyed it. This year’s Romeo and Juliet by contrast has been lauded by the critics, partly for its lack of denial. Again I really enjoyed it.
What this production does is, for the most part, let Shakespeare’s language wash over you like a spa treatment. Enveloping you in a warm bath of language that’s part familiar, part alien. It’s a very compelling and quite riveting experience.
Blessed with a cast of great quality, director, Tony Cownie makes them sing from the off. Liam Brennan stands out as a monumentally great actor and Will Featherstone is superb as Romeo. Others I cared for to slightly lesser degrees and sadly Juliet was, for me, a bit of a disappointment – not that Kirsty Mackay didn’t put her heart and soul into the performance, she just didn’t engage me. It’s a difficult call as act two is an endless lament on her part and so it’s very easy to overstep the mark to the point that Juliet wails once too often.
Aside from that, this is a truly beguiling theatrical experience. Pjhilip Pinsky’s music was, as ever fantastic , and I thought I recognised the central motif which I’m sure was a nod to Craig Armstrong. Like I said earlier, one feels drawn into a different world that doesn’t need a “message for today”. And it hasn’t got a great deal to say metaphorically, politically, socially; it’s just a great piece of theatre deftly and engagingly handled.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, theatre | Tags: edinburgh Gang show Andy Johnston, kings theatre, Kings Theatre edinburgh, ralph reader, the Gang Show
Andy Johnston, an FCT alumni, does an incredible job in amateur theatre in Edinburgh. Amongst other things he directs the Gang Show which celebrates its 50th birthday this year. I was browsing the Gang show website this morning and stumbled upon a cast photo from the first ever in 1960- which I know, for a fact, featured my Dad.
I think this is him.
But it might be my Uncle Chris.
And this is the cast of 61.
Filed under: Arts, creativity, humour, jokes, theatre, Youtube | Tags: annie, Christina bianco, impersonations, musical theatre, musicals, tomorrow
Filed under: Arts, family, jokes, life, politics, Rants, Scotland, stories, theatre, videos, Youtube | Tags: Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival, edinburgh festival fring, fct, festival cavalcade, forth childrens theatre, holyrood park
WPC McBulldog dumped all 70 of us FCT members off the back of our float at the end of last Sunday’s Festival Cavalcade, leaving us transportless and facing the long walk back to Bangholm which, in fact Izzie and nine intrepid explorers embarked upon. The rest of us were left to ponder the demise of a tradition of 30 years where we all travel to Holyrood Park (or Princes Street in the old days) on the back of a 40 ft Artic.
So, for those of you who’ve shared the fun, have one last nostalgic look at Cavalcade 2010 starting at Bangholm as we left our spiritual home and later as we took the second of two wrong routes to the start.
It was a hoot.
Filed under: Arts, theatre | Tags: A Vampire Story, cairn energy, Lucy Vaughan, Lyceum Youth, lyceum youth theatre, Royal Lyceum theatre company, Steve Mann, The Musicians, theatre, Youth theatre
For the second year running I found myself at the opening night of Summer on Stage, an extraordinary theatrical venture that gives young people a truly great experience. As it happens I was sat next to a lovely lady from Cairn Energy who was one of the founders of the whole thing and I have to say she was as blown away as I was.
The evening consisted of two productions, one for younger children (up to about 16 I’d say) and one for older youths. The former was a charming tale called The Musicians in which a “shite” school orchestra arrived in Russia to perform as part of a cultural exchange, only to find that their instruments had been impounded at the airport because a spliff had been found in one of the cases. The spliff had been secreted there because the doting flautists in the orchestra had hoped to use it medicinally to calm down the highly excitable conducter played excellently by Louis Plummer.
In the end the performance was mimed to Tchiakovsky’s 4th Symphony but inspired by the supportive (eventually) intervention of two hilarious stage hands/cleaners who stole the show (Keir Aitken and Samuel Adams).
The second performance, A Vampire Story, is a highly complex meeting of 19th Century vampirism with contemporary mental health issues and is quite stunning. Both shows shared basically the same simple but highly effective set but in this one the set was used to meld two very different eras very effectively. Although dark in content it is also hilarious in parts; it deals with the story of a teenage girl who clearly has become delusional and is creating a fantasy world of vampires as she seeks (with the help of her sister ) to escape the grasp of the authorities by constantly moving on. On her journey she encounters another lost soul in the form of a home taught kid who is similarly trying to escape the attentions of his eccentric parents. I can’t tell from the programme who played what parts but all of the principles were phenomenal and a special word has to go to the dotty teacher, Mint, played by Blair Grandison. (The Home Economics teacher, Filet, who was played by Emma Mckenna was a class character part and I recognise the girl who played the part from previous Lyceum Youth performances – a real talent).
Director Steve Mann made a considerable impression on me with this show because the content was complex, the movement difficult and the pace very important. All were delivered perfectly in a great technical set up so that what emerged was a highly professional production that replicated the sort of conditions that professional rep actors and technicians have to (and most certainly had to) work under; short time scales to learn and perfect the the performances. In this case A Vampire Story was created in under three weeks and The Musicians in under two.
As a kid, I’d have loved to have had this opportunity and so hats off to The Lyceum for making this happen and also to Cairn Energy for supporting it financially.
Filed under: Arts, humour, music, Scotland, theatre | Tags: dundee, Dundee rep, musical theatre, Stephen Sondheim, sweeney Todd, theatre
Sondheim’s Sweeney is, for me, very near to perfection in terms of musical theatre. I rate it alongside West Side Story and Ragtime for wit, quality and sheer vocal demand. It’s more an opera than a musical in truth but Sondheim insists that operas are for opera houses and musicals are for theatres. So, a musical it is.
This production has been lauded by the critics and I can see why.
I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way but it felt like a very high quality amateur production (with a budget) because the performances across the ensemble cast were riproaringly enthusiastic and heartfelt. (My point is that I sometimes feel in professional theatre that some of the passion is missing. Not here. )
This show rocks from the opening bar of Sondheim’s astounding prologue to the last bar of the shattering epilogue (both are highlights of the musical). Act 1 in particular was spellbindingly good, partly because the material is so strong. (I feel the same about West Side Story as it happens.)
But this is certainly no amdram performance. It is highly polished, visually powerful (a very good set) and musically accomplished. And what a great theatre space. My first, but not last, visit to the Dundee Rep.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Richard Conlon in the cast, playing Pirelli terrifically. (An old FCT cast member.)
It’s difficult not to make comparisons to the Johnny Depp/Helena Bonham Carter roles in the movie, but I won’t. Suffice to say that in the title role David Birrell was brilliant without being OTT. Much of the humour was reserved for Ann Louise Ross who played Mrs Lovett beautifully but particularly deviously. You really got a feeling for her as the real driving force of the operation. Poor old Sweeney is just consumed with anger and the need for remorse, old Mrs Lovett’s in it for what she can get.
This is the least gory version of Sweeney I think I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure a drop of fake blood was spilled throughout and that did slightly lessen the drama in the second act killing spree. But it didn’t spoil the overall effect.
A major shout out must go to the ‘ensemble’ who really carried the show. Too often professional musicals (especially tourers) are let down by weak chorus work because the numbers on stage are insufficient. Again, not here.
I absolutely loved this. Great value for money with a 16 strong cast and an 11 piece orchestra; three hours of entertainment, and all for £18 with a standing ovation to boot. Go on the Rep!
Filed under: humour, life, photography, Scotland, theatre, Uncategorized | Tags: fct, forth childrens theatre, gangs
Kieran Wilson rules the roost at FCT. You wouldn’t want to mess.
Filed under: Arts, humour, jokes, life, Scotland, theatre | Tags: Cara Kell, in bruges, Martin McDonagh, Nora Connolly, the beauty queen of Leenane, The Lyceum, The Royal Lyceum, The royal lyceum theatre company, Tony Cownie
And so the rains came down. In more ways than one.
Martin McDonagh’s black and brutal ‘rom-com’ opens on a rain-sodden Connemara on Ireland’s West Coast.
Another exquisitely designed Lyceum set (by designer Janet Bird) sits gloomily atop a hill in the midst of a broody squall. We spy an elderly lady rocking back and forth in the chair that is her ‘den’, her place to scheme against the daughter that she wants to own and control till her dying day.
To say the Folans are a dysfunctional family would be something of an understatement. Over the next two hours we see how each is out to upstage the other in acts of outrage, cruelty, both mental and physical, and sheer bloodymindedness. Mother Mag (played exquisitely by native Irishwoman Nora Connolly) and daughter Maureen (another wonderful Irish invader, Cara Kelly) set about each other with a passion that defies description. Which is most evil? Which is most desperate? It’s hard to tell at times as the story of their undoing unravels itself; inch by feckin’ inch.
McDonagh clearly had a way to go in the swearing stakes before he brought In Bruges to the world but he got himself into the zone here in this, his first award winning play.
It crackles with intensity and passion (not all of the romantic kind) as Mag attempts to woo her way out of her mother’s clutches with the almost virginal Pato Dooley, a manual worker from the village who has had to emigrate to Ingerland to find work. His blossoming relationship with Maureen, who is most certainly a virgin, despite her 40 years, is the centerpiece of the play and Pato wins us over with his naive charm. His younger, home based, workshy brother Ray provides many moments of comic genius, particularly when he spars with the equally workshy matriarch Maureen.
What differentiates McDonagh from many of his peers is the naturalism of his dialogue and the pace at which it zips along. With a cast this good there is no chance of his subtle wordplays and verbal tricks missing the mark (even if, from the middle of the circle, the volume was on the low side).
This is a wonderful performance; quietly assured, darkly humorous, affecting and ultimately very moving. It is a must see.