Skip to main content

The Producers

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

If the brief hiatus that occurred when the curtain fell at the end of the first scene of this touring production of Mel Brooks' musical satire was really down to a technical hitch, it couldn't have been more appropriate. Because when Broadway has-been Max Bialystock explains to naïve accountant wannabe Leo Bloom later on that one of his three golden rules of producing is that you never ever bring down the curtain after the first scene, it heightens the show's self-referential meta-ness to the nth degree, winning deserved laughter.

As played by Cory English and Jason Manford in Matthew White's production for real life producers Adam Spiegel in association with Tulchin Bartner and Just For Laughs Theatricals, Max and Leo's plan to make a couple of million dollars by putting on the worst play on the planet backfires with spectacular effect. When the pair stumble across Phill Jupitus' manic Nazi Franz Liebkind's Springtime For Hitler, they think they've struck gold. This proves to be just the first piece of taboo-busting, however, in a magnificent parade of nymphomaniac old ladies, mincing theatre directors and leather-clad Nazi hotsie-totsies upstaged only by Tiffany Graves' pneumatic Swedish starlet Ulla.

While Brooks was clearly exploring some of the freedoms of the 1960s when his big-screen version of this libidinous cartoon come to rude life first appeared, the reason it works so well is that he was lovingly steeped in the showbusiness world the show so gloriously pastiches. He also recognised that sex, money and theatrical razzmatazz are a deliciously unholy trinity. This remains the case in a fantastically tasteless display of goose-stepping high camp sturm und drang.
 
The Herald, March 25th 2015

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…