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Showing posts from March, 2012

The View - Rory Middleton Gets Cryptic

One of Rory Middleton's earliest memories is of a childhood holiday with his family. This isn't unusual in itself, except for the fact that his free-spirited parents never booked any accommodation in advance, but would wing it once they reached their destination. One time they arrived in Greece at around two in the morning, and, with Middleton in tow, ended up sleeping in a graveyard. Once they did find somewhere with a roof over their heads, misunderstandings due to the language barrier saw them wind up in a kitchen full of chickens. Exposure to such environments has clearly fed into Middleton's own adventures in imaginary landscapes, the latest of which, The View, takes its audience on a bus trip to Cove Park in Argyll as the latest in the Cryptic company's Cryptic Nights series of one-off events. Where previous Cryptic Nights have explored works in progress in the CCA's state of art auditorium, The View gets back to nature with a panoramic architec

George Wyllie: A Life Less Ordinary

Collins Gallery, University of Strathclyde March 10th-April 21st 2012 4 stars Environmental art may be all the rage these days, but, as with the soon to be moth-balled Collins Gallery, George Wyllie was way ahead of the curve. While best known for huge public spectacles The Straw Locomotive and The Paper Boat, as well as fully-fledged stage show with actor Bill Paterson, A Day Down A Goldmine, this huge archive of small works and papers, posters and other ephemera taps into the ever enquiring mind of the now ninety-year old polymath, who was reimagining Glasgow long before the cultural tsars moved in to take the credit. Having first exhibited his self-semanticised Scul?tors at The Collins in 1976, with other shows following in 1981 and 2005, it's fitting that the venue's last ever show show be the launchpad for the inaugural event of the Glasgow-wide Whysman Festival to celebrate Wyllie's nutty professor-like take on the world. Perennially captured in perma-sm

I Dreamed A Dream

Theatre Royal, Newcastle 3 stars When the lights go up on a real life Susan Boyle before she launches into her now anthemic take on I Dreamed A Dream, everything that’s happened in the previous two and a half hours pales into insignificance. It’s not that this musical and dramatic tribute to the West Lothian woman who became a global phenomenon following her 2009 appearance on TV freak show, Britain’s Got Talent, doesn’t hit the spot occasionally. It’s just that the still wonderfully untutored SuBo does it so much better. Written by Alan McHugh with Elaine C Smith as a star vehicle for the latter, the play finds Boyle hemmed-in and hounded by paparazzi and unable to cope with her sudden fame. The audience becomes her confidant as she watches over her own story, from a low-expectations birth to that fateful Glasgow audition that changed her life. Inbetween come snapshots of small-town life; school bullying, thwarted romance, low self-esteem, all set to a series of sixtie

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Theatre Royal, Glasgow 4 stars Eugene O’Neill’s late period epic is a tale of monstrously corrupted intimacy. While neither parent or sibling sleeplessly pacing the floor of the Tyrone clan’s wood-lined house have actually caused any harm in a global sense, but, the damage they inflict on themselves and each other has consequences that fester before exploding into the sickly yellow light. It starts innocuously enough in Anthony Page’s slow-burning but oddly fast-moving production, with David Suchet’s increasingly compromised patriarch James swapping mid-morning niceties with Laurie Metcalf as his fragrant wife Mary and their grown-up sons, feckless first-born James Junior, played by Trevor White, and Kyle Soller as his fragile brother Edmund. By the time all stumble together for an after-hours post-mortem on their sorry lot, their sunny facade has been ripped open to lay bare assorted litanies of failure, disappointment, bitterness and addiction. It would be easy to

Emory Douglas: Seize The Time

Kendall Koppe, Glasgow International 2012 April 12th-May 7th 'In Revolution one wins, or one dies.' When this slogan appeared aloft Emory Douglas' image of a couple of beret-clad African-American guerillas on a big-screen back-drop at major concert halls around the world, it was a far cry from the roots of Douglas' work thirty years before. Then, such visual provocations were on the front-line of the American black power movement via the pages of The Black Panther Party's weekly newspaper, which regularly sold more than 250,000 copies. In the current climate of born-again activism, the archive of Douglas' newspaper images, collages, posters and lithographs that visits GI is especially pertinent. Fusing the iconic immediacy of poster art with a loaded polemical intent, the images by the Black Panthers Minister of Culture up until the party's demise in 1980 are a living record of one of the most turbulent times of American history that neither pr

The Marriage of Figaro

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh 4 stars Love, sex and money are all the rage in D.C. Jackson's ribald twenty-first century re-telling of Beaumarchais' eighteenth century romp. In Jackson's world, Figaro is a thrusting young banker in partnership with his equally on the make squeeze, Suzanne. Together they're about to merge with a top-floor firm that will make them the biggest financial institution in Scotland. To get there, the young lovers must negotiate their way around a series of increasingly compromising positions involving an even more lascivious power couple, predatory PA Margery, a cross-dressing Ukrainian office boy-toy and an overdose of Glass Ceiling perfume by Jackie Collins. Thatcher's children are alive and kicking in Mark Thomson's production, which, while peppered throughout with a series of trademark spiky one-liners by Jackson, also shows off a new-found maturity from a writer who seems to have moved on from adolescent fumbling.

The Steamie

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy 4 stars It would be so easy to make a mess of Tony Roper’s classic wash-house set comedy. For all the Galloway’s mince routine, the make-believe telephone call and other set-pieces in this loving study of post Worlds War Two working-class women have become the stuff of popular theatre legend, one off-kilter interaction is all it takes to destroy the comic rhythms that make such moments so hilarious. Fortunately, Roper’s own twenty-fifth anniversary production is flying from the off, as Anita Vettesse’s Magrit, Jane McCarry’s Dolly, Fiona Wood as Doreen and Kay Gallie’s Mrs Culfeathers present a pan-generational portrait of women at work and play on one very lively Hogmanay between the sheets. Beyond the beautifully observed knockabout sentimentalism, there are moments of pure pathos, as it’s only with hindsight that Doreen’s dream of a flat in Drumchapel can be recognised as the beginning of the attempted break-up of inner-city communities. As much it tap

Vic Godard - Back In The Suburbs Again

Vic Godard is running late, and former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook isn't happy. It's three nights before tonight's live Subway Sect session on Marc Riley's BBC 6Music show prior to a long weekend of Scottish dates, and, after driving across London, the band's veteran crooner and wordsmith has been put well and truly in the dog-house by his new musical director. More to the point, in true punk rock style, Cook isn't in the mood to talk to the Herald, and would rather set up his drum-kit. Godard blames himself. “He's not very happy with me,” he mutters sheepishly as a big bass drum appears to explode behind him along with it's owner's temper. “I'm not the most popular person in the room. Paul's really keen on punctuality. He says we need every minute we can get.” By Godard's own admission, Cook might have a point. Subway Sect played a London show the other week as part of what's proving to be a prolific patch for a band or

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Dundee Rep 4 stars It’s not every show that finds its cast serving square crisps to the audience as they enter a noisy auditorium that has a full band set-up gracing a mocked-up pub function room venue. Yet that’s exactly how disabled company Graeae launch into their Ian Dury inspired musical, co-produced with the New Wolsey Theatre, which goes for a full-pelt recreation of the spit and sawdust aesthetic that existed before Lloyd-Webberisation turned everything into soulless cash cow spectacle. At one point there’s even a cheeky nod to Mamma Mia, a show with similar fringe roots as this 1979-set yarn about die-hard Dury-ites Vinnie and Colin, who singularly fail to get to see their idol in residence at Hammersmith Odeon during the height of his chart success. Taking in attitudes to death, sex, prejudice and low-rent ambition during the early days of Thatcherism, Paul Sirett’s script may look simple, but, as with Dury’s lyrics, which are beamed out on back-projections

David Suchet - Long Day's Journey Into Night

Family matters are at the heart of David Suchet's work just now. That's certainly the case in Suchet's current pre West End tour of Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece, Long Day's Journey Into Night, which arrives in Glasgow next week. In O'Neill's Pullitzer Prize winning semi-autobiographical epic, the actor best known for his small-screen portrayal of Agatha Christie's Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, plays James Tyrone Senior, the Connecticut patriarch of his dysfunctional clan. It's a mighty role for any actor to rip into, but it's one that Suchet is squaring up to as unflinchingly as anything else he's tackled. “In my forty-three year career I think this has been my most challenging role to date,” Suchet admits, sitting backstage in Milton Keynes. “It's the most challenging piece of writing I've ever had to perform. I compare it to being like playing Bach's organ works with everything else being like a Strauss

Moonlight and Magnolias

Perth Theatre 4 stars The story of the making of Gone With The Wind is as epic as the big-screen adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s thousand-page novel itself. Ron Hutchinson’s own adventures in the screen trade over thirty-odd years have clearly been channelled into his reimagining of what might have gone on in producer David O Selznick’s office during the fateful week he ditched both script and director. The end result is a relentlessly turbo-charged meeting of bullish but fragile minds, as Selznick puts idealistic script-doctor Ben Hecht and Wizard of Oz director Victor Fleming under lock and key for a five-day marathon where deadlines and desperation go hand in hand. As Hecht’s desire to tell uncomfortable truths about America are over-ridden by Selznick’s need entertain the masses, Hutchinson’s play sets up a neat debate on the tug of love between art and commerce. Personal insecurities too are brought to the fore. While Selznick must prove to his father-in-law, mov


Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 3 stars It may have taken a while for Lung Ha’s Theatre Company to get to the Greeks, but now they’re on it, it looks like near perfect if overdue match. Adrian Osmond’s faithful new take on Sophocles’ tragedy of one young woman’s willingness to die for a cause in the face of misguided power similarly takes advantage of the play’s choral structure to include some twenty-five performers with learning disabilities into the play’s complex web of political and inter-personal constructs without ever looking forced. A wonderful addition here too is the presence of five members of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland Futures programme, who play Kenneth Dempster’s live score for flute, French horn, clarinet, violin and viola with a dextrous urgency that adds much to the drama. Spread out on Becky Minto’s monumental-looking set and dressed in utilitarian basics that hints at some kind of enforced collectivism, the cast strike heightened poses in t

Chaz Jankel - Reasons To Be Cheerful

When Chaz Jankel walked into Ian Dury's dressing room in a pub in Shepherd's Bush one night in the mid-1970s, he wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms. Almost forty years on, however, the legacy of that first meeting between the two men who a couple of years later would take their unholy mix of jazz-funk music hall to the top of the charts with Ian Dury and the Blockheads is still going strong. This should be made doubly clear when Reasons To Be Cheerful, Paul Sirett's play for disabled theatre company Graeae, arrives in Dundee next week as part of its current UK tour. Set in 1979 not long after Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government has been elected, Reasons To Be Cheerful (not to be confused with Martin McArdie's play of the same name for 7:84 Scotland inspired by comedian Mark Steel's book) finds a gang of die-hard Blockheads fans locked out of a sold-out gig at Hammersmith Odeon. Over the course of the night, however, things turn out

Edinburgh Stop Public Entertainment Licences Changes Campaign Deputation Address To City of Edinburgh Council Regulatory Committee – March 9th 2012

1 Good morning Councillors. First of all, I'd like to thank the Committee, on behalf of the Edinburgh Campaign against Public Entertainment Licences changes, for allowing me to speak on their behalf today. It's a pleasure, both for me to have the privilege to represent the group, and to see that the Regulatory committee is taking an issue which actually isn't of it's design so seriously. Things have moved on considerably since the potential misinterpretations of the forthcoming legislation was first brought to Councillor Munn's attention by the Edinburgh campaign. Last week I think the message from Edinburgh's creative community was really brought home at a packed public meeting at Out of the Blue, one of Edinburgh's great independent art-spaces. This led to a very positive dialogue with Councillor Munn and a great deal of press attention, while just yesterday, there was a question raised about the new legislation at First Min