Skip to main content

The Choir

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

It's fitting that Paul Higgins and Ricky Ross' new musical play is set in the shabby, wood-panelled walls of a Wishaw community hall. For among the chairs that sit as mismatched as the people who form the choir founded by Iraqi doctor, Khalid, there are few contemporary plays that nail their colours to a grassroots mast quite as much as this.

As single mums, ex cons and zero hours contract workers are thrown together with Tory councillors and other posh locals, each with a theme tune they share with the group, a cross-class, cross-gender, pan-generational supergroup finds unexpected harmony through singing together. There is romance, between Ryan Fletcher's twenty-something Donny and Nesha Caplan's unemployed Velia, sexual tension between Jess Murphy's suburban wife Charlotte and Peter Polycarpou's Khalid, and a melting pot of life between. In the end, however, it is tracksuit-clad Scott's political rap that divides the group.

As the first fruits of a partnership between the Citz and commercial producers Ambassadors Theatre Group, Dominic Hill's production navigates his cast towards a feelgood ending care of David Higham's rousing musical arrangements.

While some of the political drive raised by the rehearsal room fall-outs are so direct as to sound heavy handed, and while some of the characters remain little more than sketches, all this is off-set by an ingrained understanding of the potency of cheap music, while the play's structure is steeped in ceremony and ritual from the off. And if the melody to the play's finale bears a nagging resemblance to Johnny Mandel's theme for Robert Altman's film, M*A*S*H*, it's transformed into something similarly powerful in this dramatic hymn to the power of song.

The Herald, October 29th 2015

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…