Skip to main content

Million Dollar Quartet

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars

December 4th 1956, as the projection on the stage curtain points out prior to Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux's musical drama, marked one of the most significant moments in early rock and roll history. As Jason Donovan's Memphis record mogul Sam Phillips explains to the audience following a rousing rendition of Blue Suede Shoes by his young charges, it was the day that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and an unknown Jerry Lee Lewis ended up in Phillips' legendary Sun studio together for the first and last time. The recordings of the impromptu jam session that followed immortalised one of the earliest supergroups to never take the stage.

In Ian Talbot's production of a decade-old Broadway hit now embarking on its first UK tour, on the one hand this becomes a feelgood nostalgia-fest featuring a series of rapid-fire rock and roll classics belted out by the four principals, alongside Katie Ray as Elvis' girlfriend Dyanne. On the other, it looks at the music business at shop floor level, with all the ego and ruthless ambition this first generation of pop stars set the template for.

Matthew Wycliffe's Carl is chippy at having been usurped by Ross William Wild's Elvis, who's taken to singing ballads and appearing in terrible movies since Phillips sold his contract to a major label. Robbie Durham's Johnny too has his eyes on life beyond Sun. Only Martin Kaye's hyped up Jerry Lee is in any way loyal to Sam. While there isn't anything here that you can't find in numerous biographies, to see what could be an extended anecdote reimagined with such vigour is a musical trainspotter's delight.

The Herald, November 3rd 2016

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…