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Showing posts from July, 2018

Garry Hynes – Waiting for Godot

There’s a picture on Garry Hynes’ wall in the office of Druid Theatre, the Galway-based theatre company she co-founded with actors Marie Mullen and Mick Lally in the mid-1970s as Galway’s first professional theatre company. The picture is of Hynes’ 1982 production of Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett’s seminal 1953 play, which over the last half century has become a revered institution that has acquired a mainstream status rare for something that is a key text of the post Second World War avant-garde.
In 2016, Hynes returned to Waiting for Godot after thirty-five years for a production that has been praised both in Galway and abroad, and which this August will be seen at Edinburgh International Festival. With high-profile productions of Beckett’s play having been at something of a premium over the last few years, taking a fresh look at the play wasn’t initially on Haynes’ radar.
“It wasn’t my idea,” she happily admits. “It was the idea of four actors from the Druid ensemble, who said th…

Michael Rubenfeld - CanadaHub

Michael Rubenfeld never meant to start CanadaHub when he brought hit show Counting Sheep to Edinburgh two years ago. As producer of the Lemon Bucket Orkestra’s self-styled guerrilla folk opera about the build-up and aftermath of the Ukrainian Orange Revolution of 2004, Rubenfeld couldn’t have predicted the effect Mark and Marichka Marczyk’s messy mix of east European klezmer and interactive re-enactments of key events connected to the revolution would have on what happened next.
Influenced by international Edinburgh Festival Fringe showcases such as Big in Belgium, Rubenfeld pitched something similar to visiting Canadian dignitaries. Last year, the first CanadaHub took up residence at the King’s Hall as part of Summerhall’s programme with six shows by young Canadian companies. This included the Herald Angel-winning Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story as well as Fringe hits, Mouthpiece and Foreign Radical.
This year, the second edition of CanadaHub returns to the King’s Hall with five works.…

Before the Party

Pitlochry Festival Theatre Four stars
“It’s always been traditional for the aristocracy to hobnob with the working classes,” saysghastly toff Aubrey Skinner in the second half of Rodney Ackland’s 1949 play, adapted from a short story penned in 1926 by W. Somerset Maugham. As real-life little Britain plc seems intent ontaking a lurch back in time to days of ration books and everyday racism both below and above stairs, Skinner’s observation inadvertently predicts the ongoing folly of Brexit that has seen similarly unholy alliances.
Ackland’s play is set entirely in the bedroom of Laura Skinner, the clan’s widowed elder sister who has made a prodigal’s return with new man David in tow. Laura has landed as the family prepare to attend a garden party held for the Surrey society set. While Laura dresses boldly in pink, her mood is as dark as her sister Kathleen’s is brittle. The social niceties the family shrouds themselves in can’t disguise the feeling that an entire world of post-war certain…

Vent

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Four stars
“There’s going to be a public enquiry,” says the under-pressure boss of a failed institution at one point in Scottish Youth Theatre’s new devised show created and performed by this year’s seventeen-strong ensemble. “We’re off the hook.”
Given SYT’s turbulent last six months in terms of surviving public funding decisions, such insights might well apply to organisations infinitely closer to home that affected SYT’s livelihood. As it is, Vent is a play that looks at the very prescient topic of mental health. Ross Mackay’s production does this, not by dramatised confessionals, but by setting it in a landscape that could have been dreamt up for Black Mirror by way of Westworld.
The Vent of the title is a hi-tech state-of-art centre to which people with mental health issues are referred. Once in residence, the patients effectively role-play their assorted anxieties. These are brought to life by a regiment of robots who play all the other parts, taking each scen…

David Greig and Gordon McIntyre - Midsummer

When David Greig turned up at Sydney Opera House in 2012 as part of a tour of Midsummer, the ‘play with songs’ he wrote with Gordon McIntyre, frontman of Edinburgh indie-pop band Ballboy, he wasn’t sure what to expect. Here, after all, was a play with the lowest of lo-fi aesthetics and an Edinburgh-set rom-com with no budget that had been a huge hit on home soil four years earlier. The kooky charm of the show’s rollercoaster relationship between Bob and Helena was infectious enough for it to travel the world, and to travel light. With only two actors and a couple of guitars onstage, despite the specifics of its Edinburgh setting, the universal appeal of Midsummer was plain. Here were two people old enough to know better, but who once they collide into each other over one mega-lost weekend can’t stop themselves.
Despite its success, Greig and McIntyre’s original production held on to its DIY aesthetic. Playing venues on the scale of Sydney Opera House, then with internationally renowned…