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, humour, jokes, life, theatre | Tags: andy Gray, comedy, farce, Horsecross Arts, Ian Grieve, irma vep, perth theatre, stage, Steven McNicoll, The Lyceum, the mystery of Irma Vep, theatre
Mark Thomson, The Lyceum’s Artistic Director, often talks before his shows of the need for theatre, and The Lyceum in particular, to entertain.
Now, entertainment comes in many forms. I’d list The Shining, Apocalypse Now and Hunger among my favourite and most entertaining movies but they are not everyone’s cup of tea; nor are they uplifting. My wife wouldn’t have described Hunger as entertaining, that’s for sure. So the notion of entertainment is open to considerable interpretation.
But let’s get this straight from the off; Irma Vep is PURE entertainment.
I laughed until I broke out into a sweat.
I cried and howled with laughter.
I gasped with laughter.
This show is utter class from the first, and I mean the first, moment the curtain rises and we see Andy Gray as he walks onto stage sporting a fake wooden leg and the limitations that places on straightforward movement. John Cleese would have applauded loudly.
This sets the scene for farce of epic proportions. Not Pythonesque though. It’s more in the tradition of Scots Panto. There are many nods in the direction of Russel Hunter, Walter Carr, John Grieve (is he related to the director I wonder, indeed assume) Francie and Josie and, king of them all, Stanley Baxter. Which is to heap a great deal of praise on the heads of the quite astonishing performances (in terms of characterisation, timing, energy and wit) of Andy Gray and Steven McNicoll.
Honestly, they will have you rolling in the aisles.
As I said, Panto, and slapstick, is the predominant genre here, although the show’s story is actually a pastiche of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca with a bunch of Hammer House of Horror thrown in for good measure.
I cannot imagine what the script must have read like because it is SO Scottish, so ‘of the people’ and so personal to Gray and McNicoll that you wonder what was on the page.
Each of them plays about four parts but they interchange through very quick changes from scene to scene all night and at times it is breathless and, as a consequence, even more hilarious.
McNicoll’s Jane Twisden is possibly the dominant role (the evil maid in Rebecca) played like the tea lady in Father Ted at maximum volume throughout. It’s so beautifully crafted and voiced that it leaves you gasping again and again.
Gray’s best moments are in his Lady Enid Hillcrest character which moulds Stanley Baxter and Mark Walliams into an unholy combination.
But seriously, there is not a single moment of weakness in any of the characters they play.
The direction by Ian Grieve is faultless and the wonderful set is a key part of the show with its myriad of doorways from where every character appearance and disappearance heralding yet another belly laugh each time they appear. It’s ingenious.
I cannot praise this show highly enough.
OK it’s got an odd name but don’t let that put you off. (It’s an anagram of I’m a Perv by the way!)
Go. Go now. No, now. Don’t think about it. Just go. No, do. Do it. Do it now. Go do it. Go on. Go on, go on, go on. Now. That’s it. Get down there. Now. Yes, now. Go on now.