Skip to main content

A Christmas Carol

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Five stars
Don't be fooled by the pasty-faced jug-band who strike up a jaunty
version of Silent Night as a curtain-raiser to Dominic Hill's seasonal
look at Charles' Dickens' festive classic. Aside from an audience
sing-along to The Twelve Days of Christmas and Ebeneezer Scrooge's
closing conversion, that's pretty much as cheery as things get.

Such over-riding solemnity is by no means to the show's detriment,
however, as Hill and his creative team take full advantage of Neil
Bartlett's marvellously pared-down script. Fused throughout with an
epigrammatic musicality that allows for much playfulness, it allows an
inherent theatricality to burst onto the stage with an ensemble cast of
eight led by a pop-eyed Cliff Burnett as the old miser himself.

From the off, even the quill-scratching labours of Scrooge's employees
are choreographed to perfection by movement directors Benedicte Seierup
and Lucien MacDougall before things veer into more metaphysical waters.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is a disturbing looking puppet of a child
with a lamp for a face; restless spirits swirl around the auditorium's
upper echelons like manic kites in motion; and a first glimpse at the
Ghost of Things To Come's looming presence at the end of the first act
is a truly scary portent of the future.

This grotesque display of gothic victoriana is forebodingly pulsed by
Nikola Kodjabashia's percussion-heavy live score, while Rachael
Canning's black as night design work is given extra edge by her
accompanying puppet work. Hill has his cast navigate their way through
Bartlett's superior script with occasional flashes of levity that serve
to heighten the intensity of what is probably the darkest feelgood show
in town.

The Herald, December 8th 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…

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…

Nomanslanding

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 …