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Temptations of Tam

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
There’s something a little bit special going on in this latest
collaboration between the Citizens Theatre Community Company and
Scottish Opera. Inspired by and in part sourced from Stravinsky’s The
Rake’s Progress, this pocket-sized version may put its twenty-strong
cast in period dress, but the references and themes are as twenty-first
century as it gets.

Tam is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy about to get hitched to Ann, but
who is led astray into the Glasgow flesh-pots by a mysterious stranger
with a gold credit card. From Byres Road to Sauchiehall Street, the
full social mix of a city in motion is observed in all its glory, with
Tam falling prey to hedonistic excess, rampant consumerism and the
shallow narcissism of celebrity. This comes in the form of a bearded
pop starlet called Lady Baba, while there’s nods too to Hello magazine,
west end institution Oran Mor and a top flight emporium revelling in
the name of Pradamark.

The result of all this in Elly Goodman and Neil Packham’s production,
devised with the company, and with a new score composed for a live
quartet by Matthew Brown, is a playful mash-up of old and new material.
While on one hand the company rise gamely to the complexities of
Brown’s material, under conductor Chris Gray’s guidance they prove
equally adept at tackling the chorus numbers from Stravinsky’s original
via its libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman.

While there is much acting talent on offer, it is Jonathan Collins as
Tam who anchors the show, although Annette Stewart’s Lady Baba steals
things in a refreshingly accessible take on an old story that retains
its dark heart.

The Herald, July 2nd 2012



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