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Edward II,

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow Five stars
Pride was beaming on the streets of Glasgow this weekend, and, whether by accident or design, for Bard in the Botanics to open its no-holds-barred revival of Christopher Marlowe’s brutal history play to coincide with the celebrations was a masterstroke. Here, after all, is a play several centuries ahead of its time in its depictions of a gay affair in high places, the openness of which is stamped out by a cowardly homophobic establishment.
Gordon Barr reimagines his stripped-down four-actor adaptation in the tight-lipped 1950s, when homosexuality was still illegal in the UK. This doesn’t stop Charlie Clee’s Gaveston swaggering on in denim and leather like Joe Orton’s swingingly amoral toy-boy from Orton’s breakout play, Entertaining Mr Sloane.
Reunited with Laurie Scott’s King Edward after Gaveston’s return from exile, the pair flaunt their physical affections with flamboyant and self-absorbed abandon. This is what gets to Andy Clark’s uptight Lord Mo…

Much Ado About Nothing

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
Four stars

There are far more clowns than acrobats in Jennifer Dick’s circus-set Bard in the Botanics production of what turns out to be Shakespeare’s most rootin’ tootin’ rom-com. But when Nicole Cooper’s Beatrice steps into the ring to attempt to juggle while all about her spin plates and lift weights, it’s a wordless symbol of things to come. As she and her sparring partner Benedick lead each other on a merry dance before they finally wear each other down to the inevitable amorous showdown, everybody but them can see what’s coming a mile off.

Hannah Parker’s Hero and Dylan Blore’s Claudio, meanwhile, have got their own thing going on, although they too fall prey to machinations not of their making. These come largely by way of Darren Brownlie’s morose Don John, who looks like he stepped from the pages of Death in Venice as he attempts to manipulate matters for his own ends.

With understated gender-bending at the heart of much of this year’s Bard in the Botani…

Fergus Linehan and Garry Hynes - Samuel Beckett at Edinburgh International Festival

Just like Waiting for Godot’s existential double act Vladimir and Estragon, Samuel Beckett has waited a long time to be fully embraced by into the metaphorical kirk of Edinburgh International Festival. For an artist whose sense of exile and outsiderdom has his detractors as much as his champions, perhaps it should come as no surprise that Beckett’s theatre work has largely been seen on the Fringe, where even then it has felt hidden away in back-street venues.
The appearance of Druid Theatre’s internationally acclaimed production of Waiting for Godot at this year’s EIF, then, suggests that Beckett’s work has at last come out of the wilderness. This has been brewing for a few years now by way of a series of productions under former EIF director Jonathan Mills’ tenure. Since the baton was passed to Fergus Linehan, however, the links feel umbilical. Growing up in Dublin with an actress mother and an arts journalist father, Beckett’s shadow loomed large. While Linehan’s mother Rosaleen Line…