Skip to main content

Chicago


Pitlochry Festival Theatre
Five stars

“The whole world’s gone lowbrow,” mourns hard-hustling prison queen bee Matron ‘Mama’ Morton to beleaguered showgirl Velma Kelly in John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse’s musical hitching up of celebrity culture’s tissue-sized skirts.  If things were that bad in 1975, when the trio’s brash, flash and hip-thrustingly trashy reinvention of journalist Maurine Dallas Watkins’ 1926 play first appeared, pity how things have turned out  forty-odd years later.

Don’t be put off by the show’s deceptively serious intent. As the high-kicking opener to Pitlochry’s Festival Theatre’s summer season this year, Richard Baron’s production is sex on legs and pretty much any other part of the body that can shimmy, wiggle or bump-and-grind.

Based around Niamh Bracken’s Velma and Lucie-Mae Sumner’s Roxie and their respective fall and rise on the back of crimes passionelle, Kander, Ebb and Fosse’s yarn is presented as a series of after-hours cabaret routines with an open-plan prison theme. Baron’s fifteen-strong ensemble set out their store from the off with a version of All That Jazz which, for anyone not sure before, makes its libidinous intent eye-poppingly explicit.

The sensation-seeking that follows is a sassy, brassy construction, with Chris Stuart-Wilson’s Fosse-inspired choreography driven by David Higham’s ten-piece speak-easy combo. Sumner in particular is a comic mix of gum-chewing brittleness and strike-a-pose blonde ambition, while Carl Patrick makes for a droolingly viperous Billy Flynn.

All of this combines to show how, in terms of rags-to-riches success stories and the requisite amount of soul-selling required to get rich, showbiz and crime are joined at the hip. It also lays bare how, in terms of front page news, sex still sells. If all this looks like reality TV and clickbait culture in waiting, it remains a ravishingly entertaining and deliriously cynical evocation of American values gone wrong.

The Herald, June 5th 2018

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…