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Showing posts from December, 2019

Alasdair Gray – 1934-2019 – A World of Possibilities

To enter into Alasdair Gray’s world is to enter a wonderland of imagination that bursts off the page, canvas and stage to offer possibilities of other ways of living rooted in the big, messy bloom of humanity. Gray’s passing aged 85 is the loss of an artistic titan, whose breadth of vision in word, brush and thought helped reimagine infinity for the city of Glasgow and its people that became his canvas, his story-board and his dream-scape. You could get a glimpse of that world stepping into Gray’s home in the west end of the city, where paintings of his literary and artistic contemporaries and of those close to him down the decades lined his front room. The acquired clutter suggested a life that was an endless work in progress, its expansive Blakeian shades reaching out for the stars, the universe and beyond. I fleetingly witnessed this first-hand when I visited Gray to interview him and artist Siobhan Healy about their forthcoming exhibition, Biodiversity: A Cabinet of Curios

The Steamie

SSE Hydro, Glasgow Four Stars Like an Oscar Marzaroli postcard, Tony Roper’s much loved play taps into the heart and soul of Glasgow’s long demolished past like few other works of art. Roper’s depiction of four women in an old town wash-house on Hogmanay may now be almost as far away in time from its original 1987 production as that was from its source. The rich seam of good-humoured humanity that pulses the exchanges between the women in the face of hard-knocks, however, remains as life-affirming as it ever did. Book-ending the experience are Mary McCusker’s Mrs Culfeathers and Fiona Wood’s ingénue, Doreen. Mrs Culfeathers works her fingers to the bone doing laundry for those who can afford to pay for it. Doreen’s aspirations for a house in Drumchapel with a phone and a bath are destined for disappointment. Magrit and Dolly - played by real life comedy partners Louise McCarthy and Gayle Telfer Stevens - spar magnificently inbetween. As they talk, the women’s stalls become t

Decade: Five Standout Theatre Shows of the 2010s – Beats; Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour; Oresteia – This Restless House; What Girls are Made of; Nora – A Doll’s House

Beats    2012 Kieran Hurley’s solo elegy for 1990s rave culture epitomised everything Glasgow’s much missed Arches venue was about. Hurley’s trio of linked monologues was one of the winners of the Arches Platform 18 Behaviour awards designed to showcase innovative new theatre, with Hurley himself performing alongside onstage DJ Johnny Whoop. Out of this bare bones DIY set-up came a state-of-nations history play about how the authorities attempted to outlaw any music with repetitive beats by way of the Section 63-67 of the 1994 Criminal Justice Bill and Public Order Act. Having played both the Arches and the Traverse, following a run at Soho Theatre, Hurley went on to flesh things out for the screenplay of this year’s acclaimed feature film adaptation. Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour    2015 Alan Warner’s novel, The Sopranos, had already made its mark before Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall and former National Theatre of Scotland artistic director Vicky Featherstone teamed up to pu

Angus Farquhar – Second Citizen

Angus Farquhar has had quite a decade. This is something the former driving force behind environmental auteurs NVA and post-industrial agit-provocateurs Test Dept. might wish to mull over in the unlikely event he can find a quiet moment on Hogmanay next week. Farquhar will be seeing out the year playing as one half of Second Citizen, his new marimba-based duo formed with classically trained percussionist Cameron Sinclair, who make their live club debut as part of Optimo’s End of the Decade Party in Glasgow. Second Citizen was launched at Dear Europe, an internationalist performance cabaret presented by the National Theatre of Scotland on the day Brexit was originally earmarked to take place. Farquhar introduced the performance with a spoken-word prologue that expounded on what Europe meant to him on both a personal and professional level, following it up with a mesmerising duet of rhythmic physicality. “It was my response as a European to what’s happening in Britain, and the b