Skip to main content

Fiddler on the Roof

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars
When Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein's Russia-set musical first appeared in 1964, the world, and America in particular, was waking up to a tidal wave of dissent. Women were being liberated, revolution was in the air and young people were speaking their minds, especially to their parents. All of this is reflected in the narrative about small-town milkman Tevye's travails in marrying his daughters off at the turn of the century fag-end of the Czarist regime, if not always in Craig Revel Horwood's new production for the Music & Lyrics company in association with the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton.

The first half especially feels particularly cartoonish, as a largely young cast try too hard to be funny where subtlety and depth are required to make the humour really work. Things are on much surer ground with the song and dance routines, which are delivered by a cast who play instruments onstage, an inventive and effective touch which is fast becoming a Music & Lyrics signature.

At the heart of the show is Paul Michael Glaser's turn as Tevye, in a performance that's full of warmth and generosity. It's the second half when things really kick in, however, as Tevye squares up to just how much the times are changing. Beyond such serious intentions, it's love that wins out over ancient traditions and old divisions here, something best expressed by some fine singing and playing, not least from The Fiddler herself, played by Jennifer Douglas in an entertainment that looks at progress, prejudice and the enforced emigration of a Jewish community forever in exile as they set out to build a brave new world.

The Herald, October 4th 2013


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…