Review of The Patient Gloria by Gina Moxley and Abbey Theatre in association with Pan Pan Theatre at The Traverse; Edinburgh Fringe.


I’ve seen some cracking stuff this year already; The Incident Room, Shit, Baby Reindeer, Nightclubbing and Peter Gynt (EIF) are all there or there about the 5 star mark, and I expect all to win prizes this year.  There are at least two Fringe Firsts in that bunch.  Richard Gadd’s Baby Reindeer Summerhall, in particular, left me speechless.

But tonight we went super A-list with the classic Abbey Theatre of Dublin in a co-pro with Pan Pan Theatre Co and Gina Moxley.

It’s a three woman piece written by and starring the diminutive Gina Moxley who is a dab hand at playing male psychotherapists.  She shares the stage and the story with the titular Gloria; a 1964 divorcee aged 30 with a still high sex drive and a nine year old inquisitive daughter in tow.

In an experimental film in 1965 the real life Gloria was a guinea pig in three psychotherapy experiments that were filmed to observe different approaches to understanding Gloria’s motivations and drives.

The play brings these sessions to life against a rich tapestry of theatrical techniques and outrageously brilliant acting from both Moxley and Liv O’Donoghue (the beautiful Gloria).

The two make an odd couple, not least because of the notable difference in height.

They are wonderfully supported by Jane Deasy as the one-woman bass-playing Greek Chorus.

I can’t begin to describe how many moments come together to make this piece of theatre so magical; obviously the script, story and acting are the foundations but the direction by John McIlduff is like a master class.  The set design and costumes are stunning and the sound design an important contribution too.

It’s gripping, thrilling, ballsy feminism at its extreme best.  I’m a feminist so I wasn’t in the least uncomfortable: but bring an ounce of misogyny into The Traverse and you’ll be going home with your ball sack shrivelled inside you.

Catholisisim gets a good kicking (or at least its Irish educational sub divisional torture chamber).

It’s brilliant, inventive, hilarious, thought provoking, visually and aurally stunning theatre at its very, very best.





The Guilty (Den Skyldige): Movie Review


This had completely passed me by until my son and I took a chance on it on Netflix last night.  We didn’t choose with great conviction. (Subtitled, slow looking and only really one character – could it possibly hold our attention?)

The movie consists of essentially one character on screen, a disgraced police officer, who is serving a ‘punishment’ as a telephone dispatcher/call operator in a Copenhagen police call centre.  However many characters are brought in through multiple phone calls to drive the narrative at breathtaking speed and in real time.

Virtually the entire movie takes place in two rooms in real time as he deals with a call from a woman who has been kidnapped by her husband.  It becomes something of a whodunnit as the initial call, and the reasons behind her kidnapping, are expertly sleuthed by our hero, Jakob Cedergren, in a commanding performance that is expertly directed and written by Gustav Möller and filmed by Jasper Spanning.  Bravo to both.

Nordic Noir you could call it, but it is an electrifyingly claustrophobic and intense tunner of a story that you cannot possibly predict each twist and turn. It turns out it was Denmark’s official foreign language Oscar entry and it’s plain to see why.

Magnificent and highly recommended.

Dear Mr Trump, I just want to bring a point of order to your attention. You might want to think about it next time you try to send folk back to ‘where they came from’.

Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House.jpg

Earlier this week a man, unfit for office in my opinion, created the most odious racist slur I can recall in my lifetime from a person with that much influence.  Maybe we have to go back to 1930’s Germany for a comparator, maybe historians can inform me of more recent misdemeanours.

It’s been buzzing around in my brain ever since because its feels not only odious but also ill-informed.

The penny dropped earlier when I thought, if anyone has ANY right to make such a statement, acceptable or otherwise, it surely must be the people that have the only claim to being ‘from here’; Native Americans.

In 1492, before they were massacred by people from ‘over there’, there were 112m Native Americans.

Today there are 5.4 m in a US population of 325m; roughly 2%.

The American Dream; the thing that ‘Makes America Great’ most Americans would, I contend, agree is built around the notion of the ‘land of opportunity’ where anyone, from anywhere, can, if they apply themselves, make a great life – even if they arrive poverty stricken.  (Anyone who has visited Ellis Island Museum, as I have, will see this brought into sharp relief.)

Trump may have been born in America, as three of his four slandered Democratic women – note they were all women – also were but Trump is only second generation American as we Scots know.

And his wife is not ‘from there’.

My point is that virtually no-one in the USA has a right to tell ANYONE in the USA to ‘go back to where they came from’ because virtually everyone in the USA technically came from somewhere else.

To make this sort of vile statement by the man who is custodian of the American constitution is reprehensible beyond belief.

The man is unfit for office.

He is unfit for inviting round to your house for dinner even.

I sincerely hope this makes the left wing of the Republican vote seriously consider whether they want to re-elect a man who has disrespected his country, his party, his wife, his Scottish Grandmother and, ultimately, himself.



Becoming: by Michelle Obama. Book review.



As we live through life under the Donald and, perhaps even worse, the Boris, it takes the breath away to read this account of an ordinary, but extraordinary, woman who rose to global prominence by a mixture of serendipity, love and intelligence.

This is the story of a woman of colour who reached unexpected levels of influence but never forgot where she came from.

It is also a true love story, not just of her wonderful husband and family, but of humanity.

And it’s a story of activism, on fairly extreme levels; activism for the rights of women and black Americans but mainly both.

From the first page we uncover a person, bit by bit, that was never prepared to accept the status quo.  Brought up on the rough side of black Chicago, in, essentially, a ghetto with a disabled dad she was fortunate enough to have parents that strove for her and her brother to pay for an Ivy League education.  This is not a normal outcome for this demographic.

Even as she becomes a wealthy lawyer she knows this is not right for her and gradually reduces her income by taking challenging but emotionally rewarding jobs in human rights and fairness.

She meets Barack, her husband, through work.  He too is an oddity in his demographic.  A mixed race Kenyan Hawaiian.  They’re made for each other but strangely and movingly they are not 100% compatible.  Conceiving their children is a challenge.

The book talks much of Obama’s success and we enjoy the Primary’s, hustings, presidential races and victories in some detail.

But this is not about Michelle’s role as a dutiful First Lady, it’s about her life story as a black woman and how she was able to use her influence to make a difference.

It’s breathtaking throughout.  Frequently I was close to tears, partly because viewing the world through the eyes of Michelle one realises that there is humanity in politics and then stepping back and asking oneself, ‘Would Trump do/think that?” one is left with an inevitable response in the negative.

It puts Melania and Donald Trump’s motives into perspective.

It makes us realise just how evil and selfish both he, and his English buffoon-like contemporary, are.

It makes us extraordinarily grateful for having lived through the greatest presidency in history.



The Virtues: Channel 4.

Image result for Stephen graham virtues

This is Stephen Graham, Channel 4, Shane Meadows and just British TV overall at its very best.  The Russians and the Poles can make movies this depressing but the Brits excel at it.


And this is one of those occasions.

I thought Stephen Graham was decent in Line of Duty, but that was a mere warm-up outing for this career-defining hour of TV.  He is simply breathtaking.

The second act, in which he gets smashed to drown the sorrows of the loss of his son who has emigrated with his new ‘dad’ to Australia, is indescribably brilliant.

Doing a drunk is tricky.  (Even Gillian Anderson struggled in All About Eve) but this captures it astonishingly, in no small part because of the direction of Shane Meadows and genre-bending camera work.

It was deeply disturbing TV from start to finish with a constant barrage of depression. But that’s what makes Meadows such a unique talent.  What lies ahead one can only guess but you can be sure of one thing.  It ain’t gonna be comedy.

Wonderful, wonderful TV.  Thanks guys.