Skip to main content

The Admirable Crichton

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars
There was never anything innocent about J.M. Barrie, as this 1902
dissection of class consciousness testifies in an at times
remarkably progressive if ultimately redundant fashion. Richard Baron's
revival has Barrie himself introduce his creation by way of his
elaborate stage directions to set the scene. These concern the
liberal-minded Earl of Loam, who gathers his three spoilt daughters,
Mary, Catherine and Agatha, his equally brattish nephew Ernest and an
extended coterie of aristocrats for a day of meeting the servants on
allegedly equal if toe-curlingly awkward terms before setting sail on a
family expedition.

With the eponymous butler Crichton and mouse-like maid Tweeny
accompanying, by the second act they are shipwrecked and, aside from
Crichton, without a clue about survival. After two years, the girls
have gone the way of most posh back-packers on gap-year, with Mary in
particular morphing into an androgynous lost girl in thrall of
Crichton, who now rules the roost. Any hippy idealism concerning
equality has, alas, been upended by old-fashioned patriarchy in a new
set of rags. What happens on the island, however, stays on the island,
and once the castaways are rescued, all  holiday romances are
forgotten, even as Ernest rewrites history in his self-aggrandising
memoir.

Dougal Lee gives a charismatic and statesmanlike performance as
Crichton, with Helen Mallon capturing the full sense of Mary's
awakening as she moves from studied boredom to off-the-leash abandon
and back. With the old order restored without any emotional or
political resolution, the play's author played by Alan Steele stands
appalled, both by its deeply unhappy ending, and by his impotent
complicity in being either unable or unwilling to rewrite it.

The Herald, July 4th 2014




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…