Skip to main content

A Little Night Music

Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Four stars

It's not hard to see the appeal of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's musical waltz through the mating game that so captivated Broadway on its 1973 debut. From teenage dreams to mid-life crises and beyond, it is sex that drives its action, after all. It may be set in 1900 Sweden, but it remains a text-book study of a neurotically self-absorbed generation coming to terms with the trickle-down possibilities the sixties brought in its wake. This much is clear from John Durnin's stately revival, beyond the chocolate box veneer of Charles Cusick Smith's set which puts the full compliment of Pitlochry's acting ensemble into the frame. All this with great songs to boot.

This is laid bare once the dressed-up chorus gathered round a baby grand give way to the play's principal players, who let off steam with the opening salvo of Now, Later and Soon, as the frustrations of middle-aged lawyer Fredric Egerman, his teenage virgin bride Anne and his horny but hapless adolescent son Henrik are unleashed. With Fredrik's old flame, actress Desiree Armfeldt, still burning, a country house party allows full vent for the emotional merry-go-round to work its magic.

As Fredrik and Desiree, Dougal Lee and Basienka Blake strike just the right balance of desperation and hope, with Blake in fine voice for a still show-stopping Send in the Clowns. With all the cast wielding instruments alongside musical director Jon Beales' live quartet, there is strong support too from Ceri-lyn Cissone as Anne, Gavin Swift as Henrik and especially from Isla Carter as worldly wise maid Petra in a pan-generational pot-pourri of innocence and experience that fuels this most grown-up of musicals.

The Herald, June 30th 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…