Skip to main content

White Christmas

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
4 stars
In terms of scene-setting, the snow-dappled Perthshire hills beyond the 
theatre already gave director John Durnin a head start for his 
production of the classic Irving Berlin-scored musical. While It’s 
remarkable that David Ives and Paul Blake’s stage version of Michael 
Curtiz’ 1954 big-screen vehicle for Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye has only 
been around since 2004, it’s a gift to see a show normally reserved for 
the commercial circuit in such refreshingly close-up form. Beyond the 
uber-slick song and dance routines from a twenty-strong cast plus an 
exuberant ten-piece band, it’s also a fascinatingly telling period 
piece.

Ex GIs turned big-time double act Bob and Phil wind up in an 
unseasonally sunny Vermont for Christmas with sisters Betty and Judy. 
With their former general’s hotel in hock, Bob and Phil conspire to put 
on a benefit gig for the old boy, doing the decent thing with the girls 
en route.

As Bob and Phil, Grant Neal and Simon Coulthard are matinee idol 
troupers to the last, with Martine McMenemy and Eleanor Brown equally 
game foils as Betty and Judy. While Jacqueline Dutoit’s hard-bitten 
Martha steals the show,it’s  Chris Stuart-Wilson’s choreography, Hilary 
Brooks’ musical arrangements and Adrian Rees’ perfectly 
colour-ordinated set and costumes that give the production its oomph.
On one level, this is a feel-good winter warmer originally designed to 
ease the post-World War Two fall-out for ex-service-men. As with any 
showbiz musical, there’s also something going on about how the power of 
song, dance and performance can enliven and inspire a community to 
rally together. Let’s hope the board of Creative Scotland who were in 
attendance on opening night got the message.

The Herald, December 11th 2012

ends


Comments

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…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…