Skip to main content

A Christmas Carol

WHALE, Edinburgh
3 stars
The first snows of winter have fallen on the Friday night streets of Wester Hailes by the time Mike Maran’s portable story-telling take on the ultimate Victorian Christmas tale is midway through. As theatrical magic goes, it’s hard to beat, but Maran makes a charmingly infectious stab at it with his unique blend of Caledonian chattiness and avuncular intimacy. Not for Maran the BBC posh frock department’s lavish heritage industry approach in Patrick Sandford’s bijou production. Rather, ghosts of past, present and future are conjured up in a manner that can relay a tale of a money-grabbing banker that captures the story’s essence without ever over-egging contemporary themes.

Nevertheless, there’s something of The Secret Millionaire in Maran’s Scrooge, as he observes the poverty around him before turning philanthropist. There are even more chilling pointers when a yet to be converted Scrooge suggests that the disabled Tiny Tim be allowed to die, a sentiment which at least two Tory MPs have condoned in the last few days in their condemnation of the welfare state. Running at just over an hour, Maran’s approach is no political tract, however, and is more parlour room entertainment than anything.

Dedicated to the late Alison Stephens, who composed the play’s music, a humanitarian streak runs throughout the piece, even if it still needs to bed in awhile. With Maran and silent collaborator Norman Chalmers at the helm, this shouldn’t be too serious a matter. Chalmers somewhat heroically adapts Stephens’ original mandolin score for concertina, whistles and thumb piano, adding atmospheric textures to an already low-key soundscape of skittering mice and icy London winds that permeate the journey home.

The Herald, November 29th 2010



Popular posts from this blog

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …