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Willy Russell – Educating Rita

Willy Russell was in the pub before the first preview of his play, Educating Rita. The Liverpool-born playwright’s seriously funny two-hander about a hairdresser who enrols on an Open University literature course was about to open at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s rough and ready Warehouse space in what is now the Donmar, and he and director Mike Ockrent were seeking nervous refuge. They knew that the RSC had taken a chance on the play, and even though Russell had already had a west end hit a few years before with his Beatles-based musical, John, Paul, George, Ringo…and Bert, neither of them were sure what the response would be.
“The Warehouse was in what was then quite a seedy part of Covent Garden, a bit like what Mathew Street was like when the original Cavern was there,” a now 72-year-old Russell remembers. “Mike and I were in the Crown pub, and we didn’t know what to expect. Julie Walters was playing Rita, but she had yet to become the great and much revered Julie Walters that sh…
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I Think We Are Alone

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Ghosts are everywhere in Sally Abbott’s new play, brought to life by co-directors Kathy Burke and Scott Graham in Frantic Assembly’s twenty-fifth anniversary touring production. Not that anyone is talking to each other about it, preferring to offload their woes to the audience as one might to a diary, a blog or to the entire world by way of social media. Anything, then, but talking face to face, be it estranged sisters Ange and Clare, under-achieving mum Josie and her high-flying son Manny, or taxi driver Graham and his wife Bex.
Each is kept apart by designer Morgan Large’s choreographed array of people-sized movable walls that are burled around by the cast between scenes, the frosted glass on each making any connection even harder. As lives intersect despite themselves, an accidental community of sorts is revealed that exposes an inherent good in people.
Frantic Assembly may have come of age, but they’re still dealing with the same themes of fragme…

Stevie Jones – Sound of Yell - Leapling

Stevie Jones always thought Sound of Yell would be a cool name for a band. This was the case ever since he used to go on holiday with his parents to the Shetlands with his parents, where the Yell Sound is the strait of water running between the two largest islands, Yell and Mainland. As one of the most sought after musical collaborators in the country prepares to release Leapling, his second full-length record under the Sound of Yell name, his full eight-piece band show at the CCA in Glasgow tonight has clearly made his wish come true. This is the case despite what those unfamiliar with Scottish geography might presume the band sound like from the name alone.
“I suppose it suggests shouting,” says Jones, “but there’s a fragility there as well. As for the real Sound of Yell, I suppose it suggests a form of escape, and o I guess there’s a degree of nostalgia there as well.”
Leapling’s collection of acoustic guitar-led instrumentals and low-key songs mix strings, woodwind, percussion and v…