Skip to main content


Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
Faith, hope and not so much charity as big business sponsorship are at
the heart of Abi Morgan’s heartfelt new play for the National Theatre
of Scotland. Inspired by Dr David Snowdon’s book, Aging With Grace,
based on his scientific study of nuns and the effects of Alzheimer’s
disease, Morgan sets up a text-book culture clash between two very
different orthodoxies trying to find meaning and enlightenment in a
fast food, hi-tech, wonder drug world which cares for neither.

In one corner is Nicholas Le Prevost’s shy but driven American, Dr
Richard Garfield, in the other the force of nature that is Maureen
Beattie’s Sister Ursula Mary. Orbiting around them in the west of
Scotland nunnery over half a decade are infinitely more realistic
elements from both younger and older generations, who map out their own
destinies while Richard and Ursula remain in very different forms of

There are times in Vicky Featherstone’s monumental-looking production
where the play’s intense, metaphor-laden naturalism is almost too dry.
As retreat gradually turns to ethical and emotional confrontation in a
struggle to turn dirty money clean regarding matters of life and death,
however, Ursula’s howl of rage at the world speaks volumes.

It’s moments like these that make the play, with Beattie especially
giving a fearless study of doubt, loss and belief. The last half hour
in particular is spellbindingly good. By the end, both Richard and
Ursula have acquired a less rigid view of the world. Richard in
particular has learnt the hard way not to be so pious, and that if you
let enough light into your world, miracles may happen yet.

The Herald, October 27th 2011



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…


Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …