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Ece Ger – Meeting Jim

Ece Ger was still a student studying in Paris when one of her lecturers suggested the young Turkish film-maker should meet an American guy called Jim Haynes. Ger has never been the same since. This is a common response for most people who meet Haynes, the twinkly-eyed ex GI who either fell in with or else created Edinburgh’s 1960s bohemian society by way of the UK’s first paperback bookshop and the Traverse Theatre. Such beginnings also included the 1962 International Writers Conference that arguably begat Edinburgh Book Festival. By this time, Haynes found himself at the centre of a cultural revolution which saw him move from Edinburgh to London, Amsterdam and beyond.
Then there are Haynes’ legendary Sunday night open-house dinners held at his Paris atelier, where thousands of curious diners have passed through over the last few decades en route to making other things happen. It was at one such dinner that Ger was first introduced to Haynes. The result is Meeting Jim, a 75-minute port…
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Summer Holiday

The Playhouse, Edinburgh Three stars
The rain pouring outside the Playhouse is a telling pointer of the night’s entertainment inside, where former X-Factor crooner Ray Quinn slips into Cliff Richard’s pastel-coloured slacks in this latest tour of the stage musical based on the 1963 film. Quinn is Don, the London bus grease monkey who manages to sweet-talk the management of a pre-privatised service into letting him and his merry prankster mates co-opt a bright red double-decker as a mobile holiday home for their European road trip. Along the way they pick up a girl band and runaway pop star Barbara, whose pushy mother has already jaded her to success.
Racky Plews’ production of Michael Gyngell and Mark Haddigan’s script adapted from Ronald Cass and Peter Myers’ original screenplay shows off more of a saccharine sixties than a swinging one. Like the film, it depicts an innocent world where teeny-bop pop and light entertainment soundtrack a magical mystery tour around a picture postcard ver…

Jennifer Dick and Nicole Cooper - Bard in the Botanics 2018

Love is in the very open air for this year’s Bard in the Botanics season of outdoor Shakespeare plays running throughout June and July in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. With four productions divided between the Garden itself and the more bijou confines of the Kibble Palace, directors Gordon Barr and Jennifer Dick are focusing on love and romance in four very different plays in what is styled as the Star Cross’d Lovers Season.

 Dick stays outside with a pairing that sees her move from the original angst-ridden teenagers in Romeo and Juliet to the rom-com template of Much Ado About Nothing. Barr, meanwhile, cosies up in the Kibble, first with the doomed mid-life crisis of Antony and Cleopatra, then with a rare look at Edward II, penned by Shakespeare’s contemporary Christopher Marlowe, and featuring a gay sub current.

 If the latter play’s laying bare of renaissance era queerness chimes with these non-binary times, working with a canon in which cross-dressing is de rigeur, Bard in the Bot…

Quality Street

Pitlochry Festival Theatre Four stars
“I am tired of being lady-like,” determines school-teacher spinster Phoebe Throssel to her sister Susan in the second act of J.M. Barrie’s neglected early play, revived here by Liz Carruthers in suitably chocolate box fashion. Such wilful reinvention is born of wisdom and experience after Phoebe effectively buried her fun-loving self a decade earlier when handsome himbo Valentine Brown swanned off to the Napoleonic war. Now, Valentine has breezed back into town, and, uniform notwithstanding, Phoebe wants a piece of the action a non-military intervention should have provided her with years ago. Cue an elaborate conceit that unveils her hidden party girl.
Set on designer Adrian Rees’ circular blue and white room – a kind of chill-out sanctuary where the sisters hold court before turning it into a school – Carruthers’ production is a deceptively frothy confection with subtle depths lurking beneath the surface. As ever with Barrie, the separation anxieti…

Elizabeth Newman – Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s new artistic director ushers in a new era

The sun is shining on the day the new artistic director of Pitlochry Festival Theatre arrives in Perthshire to meet her new team. Elizabeth Newman, who was announced last week as the successor to John Durnin, won’t be taking up her post until September. You get the impression, however, that work has already begun for the 32-year old, who joins PFT after running Bolton Octagon Theatre for the last three years, where she previously spent six years as an associate director.
While she’s on what is effectively a reconnaissance expedition, Newman will also be taking in a performance of Quality Street, PFT’s production of J.M. Barrie’s neglected classic, which forms part of the Perthshire theatre’s six-play summer season. As a possible taste of things to come, it may or may not be telling about Newman’s yet to be announced 2019 programme and beyond. Whatever happens, moving from a theatre in a northern English urban town to the rural expanse of Pitlochry looks like quite a leap. Newman sees i…