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Showing posts from March, 2013

Anna Weiss

Tron Theatre, Glasgow 3 stars When Mike Cullen's play about a hypnotherapist, the young woman she treats and the young woman's father appeared in 1997, it was devastatingly timely. Sexual abuse of children by their families was being exposed in a way it never had been before, but so was False Memory Syndrome, whereby seemingly long-buried traumas were 'revealed.' Almost sixteen years on, and Cullen's play is no less breath-taking in Rekindle Theatre's intense and up close and personal revival. It begins with Anna and her live-in patient Lynn surrounded by boxes all neatly packed with forgotten memories in a limbo between the past, present and a brand new future. As Lynn frantically rummages around for a long lost photograph, the pair spar with the brutality only co-dependents can muster. Lynn has invited her father who may or may not have abused her to visit in order to confront him. Anna doesn't approve, even less so when David appears. For s

The Government Inspector

Kings Theatre, Edinburgh 3 stars When Communicado Theatre Company toured Adrian Mitchell's adaptation of Gogol's satire of small-town corruption in 2011, it's tale of back-handers, bungs and out and out bribes in high places looked all too timely. Two years on, and Gerry Mulgrew's scaled up revival, a co-production between Communicado and Aberystwyth Arts Centre, looks more pertinent than ever. This is the case even as Mulgrew's knockabout ensemble put style above polemic, making the self-serving clique who get wind that their antics are under investigation by a mysterious inspector appear even more ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is Khlestakov, the penniless cad who the long, the short and the tall of the town presume to be the inspector, simply because he has the upper-crust swagger of the St Petersburg set, albeit without the cash to back it up. As played here by Oliver Lavery, Khlestakov is a feckless fop, whose own pomp woos the town-folk into caterin

The Full Monty

Edinburgh Festival Theatre 4 stars When it comes, the climax of Simon Beaufoy's stage adaptation of his 1997 film about a group of unemployed Sheffield steel-workers who find emancipation by becoming strippers is as hen night-tastic as you expect it to be. The wolf whistles began some two and a half hours earlier, from the moment Kenny Doughty stepped onstage as Gaz, the laddish everyman who breaks into the deserted factory where he and his mate Dave used to work to nick girders to flog for scrap. Also left behind is a blue crane named Margaret, after the woman who effectively put a nation of heavy industry workers on the dole. Meanwhile, sisters are doing it for themselves watching The Chippendales, which inspires Gaz to enlist a troupe of his own to make a few bob. What Gaz, Dave and their motley crew of ne'er do wells actually achieve isn't just a rediscovery of their own personal mojos, but a reawakening of a collective spirit through the power of dance, brillia

Ulrich Schnauss

Electric Circus, Edinburgh Sunday March 17 th 2013 4 stars The first time Ulrich Schnauss appeared in Edinburgh, back on Easter Sunday 2008 at the Voodoo Rooms, there wasn't a still body in the room, such was the infectiousness of Schnauss' laptop-generated electronica that has since defined a mashed-up hybrid of dancefloor indie some might call Shoe-Rave. Since then, Schnauss seems to have found his time, as assorted nouveau sonic cathedralists appear to have caught up with him. Schnauss' latest visit tied in with the release of his long-awaited fourth album under his own name, A Long Way To Fall, a deliciously warm concoction which humanises electronica in a way other laptop-based artists fear to tread. This is so even as Schnauss stands over his kit with total concentration, while a a female sidekick stands opposite him, equally rapt over her laptop. The result of all this, with impressionistic films beamed out on the venue's multi-screen set-up behind

Eileen Walsh - Quiz Show

It will be something of a homecoming for actress Eileen Walsh takes to the stage in Rob Drummond's new play, Quiz Show, at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre this coming weekend. It was in that very theatre, after all, that a teenage Walsh first appeared alongside an equally youthful Cillian Murphy in Disco Pigs, Enda Walsh's blistering and poetic coming of age tale that was an Edinburgh Festival Fringe sensation in 1997. Quiz Show also marks the Cork-born actress's return to the city she actually does call home, after originally moving there shortly after Disco Pigs before decamping to London for several years. Quiz Show is Drummond's latest dissection of popular culture that follows on from Bullet Catch and Wrestling. Unlike those two works, which were solo pieces performed by himself, Quiz Show is a fully-fledged play without any onstage appearance by Drummond. Instead, the play looks at today's celebrity obsessed world via a TV game show that doesn't quite

Simon Beaufoy - The Full Monty

When the film of The Full Monty was released in 1997, there was a delicious irony that it did so a mere week after Tony Blair was elected UK Prime Minister with a landslide victory that saw his New Labour project end eighteen years of Conservative rule. Here, after all, was a commercial feature film about a group of former steel-workers turned strippers in Sheffield who had been thrown on the scrap-heap which Margaret Thatcher's destruction of heap by industries had reduced the steel industry to. Fifteen years on, and with a Conservative/Lib-Dem alliance in Westminster, Simon Beaufoy's original screenplay of The Full Monty has been adapted for the stage. As with the film, Beaufoy's first stage play has proved a feel-good hit even as it deals with some very dark things, about masculinity and the by-products of losing one's livelihood during an era of mass unemployment. “It's a recession comedy,” Beaufoy says. “It was a really grim time, and it was visibl

Jutta Koether – Seasons and Sacraments

Dundee Contemporary Arts until April 21 st 2013 4 stars The back catalogue of seventeenth century painter Nicolas Poussin isn't the most obvious frame of reference for German iconoclast Jutta Koether, but when she was taken to see his The Seven Sacraments at the Scottish National Gallery, something clicked. The end result for Koether's first major show in Scotland following an appearance at the DCA as part of the Altered States of Paint group show in 2008 is this large-scale, hopelessly devoted homage/reimagining of Poussin, rebranded and rewired for a post-modern twenty-first century pop age. The fact that Koether's versions of Seasons, four paintings first shown at the Whitney Biennial in New York in 2012, and the more sculptural The Seven Sacraments, created in situ, feature bit part players such as philosopher Jacques Derrida, German racing driver and walking product placement Sebastian Vettel and the Queen adds a playful wit to the pop classicist sheen. The

Flickering Lights

Summerhall, Edinburgh, until May 18 th 4 stars Up in the Lower Church Gallery end of Summerhall, three very different video works are in motion as part of the best arts space in Edinburgh's latest huge exhibition programme. David Bellingham's 'An Object Revolving Around A Day / An Object Revolving Round Events' is a four-minute animated burl round a yellow sun and a blur moon that recalls a wonkier take on the opening credits of 1970s eco-friendly sit-com, The Good Life. '2013.01.27 – 11.52' is self-christened artistic family collective, Maris,' film of their daily drive from their country home to their studio filmed through their car wind-screen. Best of all is 'Lolcatz', Rachel Maclean's epic day-glo digital mash-up involving Egyptian cat worship, the Tower of Babel, Starbucks and internet meme subtitles. While the cyclic inevitability of Bellingham's piece is as appealingly hypnotic as the accompanying flick-book produced for t

April in Paris

Perth Theatre 4 stars The irresistible rise of budget airlines has made international travel accessible across the social scale. This wasn't the case when John Godber's brittle study of a middle-aged working class couple's broadening horizons first appeared in 1992, when the world seemed a lot bigger to Bet and Al and the generation they represent. Their sense of claustrophobia is accentuated even more in Kenny Miller's striking new co-production between Perth and the Tron in Glasgow by stylising their living room as a white cube which more resembles a prison cell or a hospital ward than a home. With the pair either perched on chairs or else prowling the room looking for an escape route, Bet and Al's mono-syllabic exchanges point up the domestic torpor of what their relationship has become. Emasculated since being made redundant, Al seeks solace by painting lifeless pictures in the garden shed, while Bet buries herself in magazine competitions, trying


Buzzcut is a festival of live art and performance founded in Glasgow by Nick Anderson and Rosana Cade, who explain about the most youthful addition to the city's experimental arts scene and its second year. What's the thinking behind this year's Buzzcut, and how has it developed since the last one? Hello from //BUZZCUT// This year is very community driven. We're having food events each day, hosted by different artists and we've also made sure all the events are fully accessible to everyone. This means the whole festival is 'pay what you can' and all spaces have entrances either on the ground floor or are fully accessible. We're really keen for as many people to be engaging with all the work! You've moved into Mono this year. How has that changed things? We're really excited to be in the Mono/Trongate area as there are so many great things happening around there! Also it's quite a visual art area, so to be bringing performanc

Scenes Unseen

Tron Theatre, Glasgow 4 stars There are hidden depths to this eight play compendium of unperformed miniatures by established writers alongside new works by younger voices. This is something to do with the way director Andy Arnold's co-production between the Tron and New Inck Theatre weaves the plays together into a fluid whole which actors Keith Fleming, Gavin Wright, Brian Pettifer and Natalie Toyne navigate their way through on Kirsty McCabe's multi-layered junkyard set. It opens with Nimrod, Lynsey Murdoch's blackly comic look at two astronomers waiting for miracles in the frozen north. This is followed by Athol Fugard's A Conversation, in which a man and his daughter attempt to understand each other while out bird-spotting. Lighten Up by Andrew Stott focuses on a young couple attempting to rekindle their relationship on a Sunday night in front of the TV. This is followed by Ron and Julie, in which Alan Ayckbourn puts plenty of light, sound and action into a typi

Mark Thomas - Bravo Figaro Again

When Mark Thomas premiered his new show, Bravo Figaro, at the Traverse Theatre as part of the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, it came as something of a surprise. Not just because this gobbiest of left-wing stand-ups had seemingly body-swerved the grassroots venues he normally plays to do something more theatrically formal. The content of the piece too was something of a curve-ball. Where Thomas' previous visit to Edinburgh had been with Extreme Rambling – Walking The Wall, an account of Thomas' journey to the Middle East to walk the entire length of the Israeli Separation Border, Bravo Figaro was an all too personal story of Thomas' relationship with his opera-loving father. The show was framed around Thomas' reaction to his father contacting degenerative illness, progressive supranuclear palsy, when he persuaded the Royal Opera House company to perform in his parents bungalow in Bournemouth. Bravo Figaro was funny, honest, moving and surprisingly unsentimental

My Brilliant 'Career' - An interview with All Media Scotland

NEIL Cooper  is theatre critic for The Herald, and a freelance writer. When did working in the media first start becoming an ambition? From a very early age, I guess, but I had absolutely no idea how you went about it. I was a print junkie, first with Marvel comics and science fiction fanzines, then later with the music papers, which were at their post-punk peak when I was a teenager. The NME was my 'bible', and I started picking up music fanzines from Probe, which was the hip record shop in Liverpool. My favourite was one from Manchester, called City Fun, which was a deeply pretentious scene gossip-sheet with live reviews and record reviews. It was extremely opinionated and dripped sarcasm from every page. At the time, I didn't realise it was probably produced by a bunch of pseudy students. But I still didn't have a clue about seizing the means of production for oneself. I was also influenced by Tony Wilson on Granada Reports. One minute he'd be reading t

Derek Riddell - Playing J.M. Barrie

Derek Riddell is probably too tall to be playing JM Barrie, the troubled author of Peter Pan. At five foot three, Barrie's stature is considerably shorter than the 5'11 and a half Glasgow-born actor familiar from his TV turn in American hit, Ugly Betty. As Riddell prepares to play Barrie in Peter and Alice, a new play by John Logan directed by Michael Grandage, the power of imagination will clearly come into play on more than just its subject. Given too that other portrayals of Barrie have been by the likes of the even more unlikely Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland, Riddell shouldn't have too much of a problem. “He was described by most people as this strange little creature,” Riddell explains, “and he had this really strange voice, but we don't want to be too weird about it. He was a very complex character. One minute he could be witty and charming and captivating to the boys, the next he could go into these black silences, and there's a real dark

Driving Miss Daisy

King's Theatre, Edinburgh 4 stars When Alfred Uhry's quietly political play first appeared in 1987, the idea of America voting in a black President at all, let alone for a second term, was a long way off. A quarter of a century on, Uhry's intimate story of the increasingly co-dependent relationship between an elderly Georgian matriarch and her chauffeur during the civil rights years is a necessary reminder of how far things have come. More importantly, perhaps, than the back projections of Martin Luther King and other protesters from the era in director David Esbjornson's touring production, Uhry has sketched a warm and human story about friendship, ageing and mortality. It opens in 1948, with banker Boolie Werthan attempting to hire a chauffeur for his mother, the cantankerous seventy-two year old of the play's title, who has just crashed her own car for the final time. At first resistant to her new employee, Miss Daisy's initial suspicions and in-gr

Don Warrington - Driving Miss Daisy

There's something quietly inscrutable and really rather regal about Don Warrington. This is as apparent in conversation with the actor whose long television career began in iconic 1970s TV sit-com, Rising Damp as it is onstage in the touring production of Driving Miss Daisy, which arrives in Edinburgh this week. It's something to do with the perfectly enunciated and ever so slightly plummy drawl of his voice, but there's a presence there too and a sense of containment that suggests a stillness and an air of authority. Such characteristics make Warrington perfect, then, to play Hoke Colburn, the chauffeur to Daisy Werthan, the deep south matriarch who gives Alfred Uhry's 1987 Broadway hit, filmed by Bruce Beresford two years later, its title. Charting the pair's relationship between 1948 and 1973, Uhry's play sees them move through a changing America, as in-built racism gives way to the civil rights movement while Daisy and Hoke's master-servant status gr

Dark Matter

Ferry Road, Edinburgh 4 stars In a secret urban garden in the north of the city by night, the earth is about to erupt into explosive life. The audience for this latest site sensitive work by the Vision Mechanics company have already been promenaded down the quiet street beyond from a local hotel, and are sat around the moodily-lit shrubbery while what sounds like the low rumble of cracking earth churns from the headphones each is given as they pass through the gate. In the crepescular glow, a folk lament is sung as smoke billows, until the singing morphs into an unseen woman's voice calling to her lost love. When the young woman finally enters, great-coated and alive with possibility, it's as if she's risen from the ground itself, so at one with the birds and bees twittering and buzzing in our ears does she seem. For her, sex and love are something primal, obsessive and unfettered, and only when her passions are thwarted and the life that drives her is ripped

Sonica – The Spaces Between Sound and Vision

1. If seeing is believing, what, then, is hearing? Are those sounds – things that go bump in the night, which cut through the air, either of their own volition, or else manipulated and fine-tuned into a shape that some might call music – figments of the imagination? As for watching and listening, those more concentrated, more focused applications of the visual and sonic senses, how do they work? Are perceptions of what we watch or listen to not identical? If so, how can one be moved to tears by a particular sight or sound, while another is left cold by the same experience? On a train that no longer chugs or click-clacks like they used to, but which propels itself with a low rumble, I think of a trip to North Berwick made with David Attenburgh’s favourite sound recordist and former member of Cabaret Voltaire, Chris Watson. Watson was doing a residency at Edinburgh University, and was taking a group of would-be sound recordists on a field-trip to North Berwick. I was writing a piece on W