Skip to main content

Dr Marigold and Mr Chops

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars
Scarlet drapes tumble about the stage in the living junk-shop that
forms the back-drop to Simon Callow’s double bill of Charles Dickens
short stories originally performed by the great man himself a century
and a half ago. Mr Callow is the ultimate patter merchant, whether
relating a yarn about a vertically challenged sideshow turn who hits
the jackpot, or else becoming the hawker whose life is turned upside
down when he adopts a speech and hearing impaired young girl.

Mr Chops is up first, with Callow acquiring the cockney rasp of
henchman Toby in a barrel-organ sound-tracked lament for his partner,
who on winning the lottery is patronised and abused by the grasping
grotesques of high-class society. In the second half, the widowed Dr
Marigold tugs the heart-strings all the way to Christmas Day.

As Chops grows in moral stature prior to his demise even as Marigold
finds salvation, it’s easy to see where sit-com scribes Galton and
Simpson copped their moves from when they created the excitedly
social-climbing but eternally disappointed Harold Steptoe. Because, as
the picture frames onstage suggest, Dickens had hit upon a form of pen
and ink portraiture that both critiqued and sentimentalised the
nineteenth century society he moved through.

Scaled up considerably since its initial 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe
outing, Richard Twyman’s touring production of original director
Patrick Garland’s collaboration with Callow never quite captures the
same sense of intimacy. Callow invests proceedings with a flighty,
crowd-pleasing bravura anyway in this appealing if largely inessential
pairing. Seen together in this way, they too seem like market-place
curios vying for all the attention they can get.

The Herald, November 3 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 …