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Showing posts from May, 2012

Gerard Murphy - Krapp's Last Tape

Gerard Murphy is looking back. As the Irish actor returns to the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow for the first time in fourteen years to appear in Samuel Beckett's solo play, Krapp's Last Tape, it's an all too appropriate thing to be doing. Krapp, after all focuses on an old man rewinding his past via reels of tapes on which he's charted his hopes, ambitions and subsequent disappointments ever since he was a young man. Not that Murphy had much in the way of failure during his time at the Citz, which began an intense three years in 1974, and continued intermittently until 1998, towards the end of what is now regarded as the theatre's golden era under the three-way artistic directorship of Giles Havergal, Robert David MacDonald and Philip Prowse. With Krapp forming part of a double bill with another Beckett miniature, Footfalls, Murphy returns to the Citz at the end of incoming director Dominic Hill's first season, which has tempted other prodigals su


Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 4stars Love, death and everything inbetween fire this inspired double bill by director Ramin Gray's invigorated ATC company, who tour Sarah Kane's free-associative meditation on the painful highs and lows of an obsessive and possibly self-destructive amour to the theatre it was first seen in 1998. That was in a production by future National Theatre of Scotland director Vicky Featherstone. Played fourteen years on in tandem with Cazimir Liske's translation of Russian writer Ivan Viripaev's equally serious dissection of how romance can be the greatest of deceivers, the plays are fascinatingly revealed as mutual flipsides of the same coin. The same four actors line up side by side in each to lay bare things that are more often left unsaid. In Crave, they stand on a platform in pyjamas and nighties, as if what comes out of their mouths over the next forty minutes is some kind of bedtime nightmare. In Illusions, they sit on chair

Tim Hecker / Wounded Knee / Matthew Collings

Pilrig St Paul's Church, Edinburgh Saturday May 19 th 2012 Anyone au fait with Sacred Music, BBC 4's two-series trawl through the history of choral worship, from plainchant to polyphony and beyond, will be as versed in the integral relationship between music and church architecture as they are with presenter Simon Russell-Beale's penchant for gazing earnestly into the middle distance while sporting regulation arts mandarin baggy black suits or else peering longingly at Harry Christophers' media-friendly choir, The Sixteen, perform especially for him. Leith Walk on an all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup Final Day a couple of hours after Hibs are unceremoniously gubbed by Hearts might seem a somewhat apposite locale for such ruminations to be put into spectacular practice. As a curtain-raiser to what is Quebecois electronicist Tim Hecker's second ever Scots date, however, witnessing such radically different brethrens gathered on either side of the street looks

Scott Myles – This Production

Dundee Contemporary Arts April 7th-June 10th 2012 4 stars It makes sense that the site of DCA used to be Scott Myles’ playground. Back then he was a skater-boy and it was a bricks-and-mortar garage reimagined as the sort of makeshift skate-park for local heroes and future high-flyers which under the Scottish Government’s recently imposed changes to public entertainment licensing laws would today be illegal. For his first major UK solo show, the Dundee born and trained artist has reclaimed the building’s interior with an even more playful flourish in DCA’s latest world-turned-upside-down subversions of everyday work, rest and play. Mass production consumables are reinvented for some half-remembered dreamscape as retro Habitat reproductions are painted black and stuck to the first gallery wall, while a swivel-seat skeleton on a chat show platform has a giant prism where its seat should be. ‘ STABILA (Black and Blue)' is a series of twenty-four screen-printed im

Paul Thek – If you don’t like this book you don’t like me

The Modern Institute, April 20th-June 2nd 2012 3 stars ‘I will now call to mind our past foulness and the carnal corruptions of my soul’ goes one missive culled from the now opened pages of almost a hundred notebooks left behind by the Brooklyn-born painter and sculptor, which came to light following his death in 1988. Given the sculptures and installations that formed the body of much of his work from the 1960s Technological Reliquaries series onwards, where one might expect blueprints for the environments shown at this year’s Thek retrospective at the Whitney in New York, one is hit instead with something infinitely more personal. Such a panoply of ripped-up autobiographical scraps and pencilled-in dreamscapes lays bare a candid close-up into one man's self-reflexive, self-absorbed but self-aware quest towards a higher state of being. Thek's ruminations on art, sex and spirituality are Me-Generation pre-cursors to a similarly confessional Zine and blog cultur

John Peel's Shed

When legendary Radio 1 DJ John Peel died suddenly in 2004, it left a musical and cultural void that has never quite been filled. As several generations of indie-kids weaned on groundbreaking obscurities ranging from DIY post-punk to dub reggae, techno and experimental noise went into, mourning, it became increasingly apparent just how much Peel changed the landscape of popular culture forever. One of those who knew this already was writer and some-time performance poet John Osborne, whose very personal one man homage, John Peel's Shed, was one of the most heartfelt mini hits of last year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Inspired in part by Osborne's book, Radio Head: Up and Down the Dial of British Radio, which charted his experience listening to a different radio station every day, John Peel's Shed was an appropriately lo-fi geek's-eye view of a record-buying subculture which has since gone viral. It's only fitting, then, that Osborne's current

Fight Night

Tron Theatre, Glasgow 4 stars The Tron’s socially-minded Mayfesto season may have been scaled down for this year’s incarnation, but it has continued to throw out an array of theatrical fire-crackers regardless. Many of these have been brand new Irish works by writers and companies little-known or seen in Scotland. So it goes with Gavin Kostick’s blistering little solo piece about an on-the-ropes young boxer who finally squares up to his entire family to prove he can go the distance. Michael Sheehan plays Dan Coyle, a one-time middleweight contender who blew it aged twenty-two. After six years of flabby living, however, he’s match-fit once more, whatever his estranged old man might think. Over the course of a week-long work-out before he steps back into the ring, we’re let into Dan’s world, a high-octane mix of back-street macho pride, hand-me-down defiance and a rediscovering of his mojo via a steadyish relationship and the kid who came with it. If Dan has been shadow

Molly Taylor - Love Letters To The Public Transport System

When Molly Taylor performed Love Letters To The Public Transport System just over a year ago as part of the National Theatre of Scotland's Reveal season, it was advertised as a work in progress. While such a safety net covered everybody's back in case things went wrong, what audiences got instead was a lovingly crafted semi-autobiographical monologue performed simply and beautifully by Taylor in one of the most fully-rounded productions of the entire Reveal season. Taylor's real life quest to track down the drivers of buses and trains who led the Liverpool-born performer to significant moments, and indeed significant others, returns for a short run of schools and public shows prior to a full Edinburgh Festival Fringe run as part of this year's Made in Scotland programme. Any fears that such a bespoke success story has been transformed into an all-singing, all-dancing spectacular are mercifully unfounded. “It feels like Love Letters is about to take off on

Minute After Midday

Tron Theatre, Glasgow 4 stars The spectre of the 1998 Omagh bombing casts a long shadow over the Irish Troubles last bloody gasp, even as it ripped a community asunder forever. The collective sense of shell-shocked grief that followed is unlikely to be captured better than in Ross Duggan’s perfectly pitched elegy told through the words of three survivors of this all too pointless atrocity. First seen on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2011, Duggan’s trio of criss-crossing monologues relate the events of what became a weekend off to remember for all the wrong reasons. First there is Lizzy, the little girl for whom a trip to the shops will never be the same again. Next comes Mari, whose husband Brian went out for a thirtieth wedding anniversary present and ended up saving Lizzy’s life at the expense of his own. Finally, there is Conor, the young lad caught up in the romance of a cause he didn’t really understand, and ended up a bomber. With actors Claire Hughes, Eimea

Anne Boleyn

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh 5 stars Thank God for writers like Howard Brenton. Because, as English Touring Theatre’s revival of Brenton’s mighty history play for Shakespeare’s Globe testifies to, there are few artists who could combine political intrigue, religion, tragedy and high comedy to make a twenty-first century epic to die for. The audacious sweep of John Dove’s production helps, from the moment the period-frocked actors wander into the auditorium to engage with an audience perhaps expecting a heritage industry view of Henry VIII’s second and seemingly most heroic, not to say epoch-changing, spouse. From Anne’s double-bluffing opening address, however, things couldn’t be more different, as the action dovetails between timelines framed around James I’s private investigations into Anne’s rise and fall en route to authorising a new bible. As Anne navigates her way through the uneasy coalition between church and state, she not only wraps David Sturzaker’s Henry aro

Howard Brenton - Writing Anne Boleyn

History's a funny thing for Howard Brenton. As The Globe's touring revival of of Anne Boleyn, the veteran playwright's most recent original work arrives in Edinburgh this week, Brenton's depiction of Henry VIII's second and most misunderstood wife is a deeply serious study of a woman whose apparent flirtation with then outlawed Protestantism suggested a steely revolutionary zeal. By juxtaposing Anne's story with that of a wilfully outrageous James V1, himself in the throes of political intrigue even as he investigates Anne's legacy, the portrait that emerges of this most turbulent period of English and Scottish history is more audacious than most. “ I'd wanted to write something about the Tudors for years,” says Brenton on a break from work on his next play, “but I couldn't find a way in. I had a mad idea to do something called Tudor Rose, and have one actress play all the monarchs, but I couldn't make it work. Then the Globe aske

No Time For Art 0+1

Tron Theatre, Glasgow 3 stars When a microphone is passed out to the audience in the second half of Egyptian playwright and director Laila Soloman’s all too personal set of testimonies from the frontline of her homeland’s revolution, the effect is both moving and powerful. As each reads from a sheet of paper demanding justice for named ‘martyrs of the revolution’ killed by one form of state oppression or another, the communal litany that gradually forms is a very quiet form of solidarity that challenges the oppressors even as it bears witness. The first half that precedes it finds three Egyptian actors – one man, two women - sitting on chairs recounting their own knitted together experiences without fuss or anger in their native language as English subtitles flash up on a screen behind them. An everyday tale of Molotov cocktails, incarceration, military brutality and bombs made of tea, there is little need for dramatic embellishment in Soliman’s compendium of first-ha

Roman Bridge

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow 4 stars There’s something of the Wild West in Martin Travers’ brutally intense play that is the flagship production of the National Theatre of Scotland’s Reveal 2012 season of new work. It’s not just the long leather coats and customised bowler hats that give Amanda Gaughan’s production the sort of rough-shod stylistic trappings that Sam Pekinpah would be proud of. As the play’s quartet of transients seek sanctuary in the gloom beneath a crossing they’re seemingly destined not to make, it’s the sense of a frontier lost to things not of their own making that gives it such a widescreen feel. All the more remarkable, then, that Travers has set his brooding tale of bargains made and secrets spilled in rural Lanarkshire in what he calls ‘another Scotland’. It’s a place where the brave new world that was promised presumably never happened, and where Ryan Fletcher’s ruthless Robert John and John Kielty’s more humane Andrew live off scraps in-between

Five Minute Theatre 2012 - The NTS Doth Protest

Mayday and protest are natural bedfellows however some governments may attempt to re-brand it. This was something clearly recognised in the early days of Mayfest, Glasgow's now defunct trade union backed arts festival. It's something that is clear too in Mayfesto, The Tron Theatre's now annual month of politically inclined theatre, which acknowledges its obvious debt to Mayfest. While Mayfesto 2012 has scaled back its activities prior to a larger, city-wide event set to take place in 2013, the radical slack has been picked up by the National Theatre of Scotland, whose second Five Minute Theatre event takes protest as it's very pertinent theme. Following on from the inaugural Five Minute Theatre, which, over twenty-four hours, streamed more than two hundred new miniature plays which were selected from more than twice that number live over the internet, this year the NTS, in a very logical association with STV, have opted for a leaner model. Rather than an

Five Minute Theatre 2012

Tron Theatre, Glasgow 4 stars The technical hitches that opened the 2012 version of the National Theatre of Scotland’s compendium of bite-size performances beamed live across the internet may have resembled the early days of Channel Four, but the creative anarchy that followed was worth the wait. Run over six hours, and with seventy-two plays on offer , this year’s protest-based theme concentrated things even further, even if the sole screen in the Tron’s noisy restaurant was less than ideal for anyone wanting to witness the event beyond the works performed live in the venue’s Victorian Bar. For those with laptops, the first hour alone included Craigowl Primary School’s study of Grandpa Broon, Amy Conway’s meditation on fallen war reporter Marie Colvin and the CurvebALL Collective’s physical theatre flash-mob in George Square. It was here Tam Dean Burn’s punk Robert Burns outfit The Bumclocks performed an anti-war mash-up of Burns, Pinter and Gunter Grass. Under the