Saturday, August 13, 2011

Should you be interested, and as they've now been printed, some of my favourites (lazy slack cut and paste from my 200 word submissions) to date.

The Monster in the Hall by Davie Greig @traversetheatre

Duck is a teenage girl whose mother died when she was 3 and is now struggling to look after her dad as his multiple sclerosis worsens. One day, she discovers that a social worker will be visiting their home. Panicking that she’ll be taken into care, so begins a day of trying to keep the Fairy of Catastrophe at bay.

This is a charming play by Davie Greig and a delightful production. Written for (and with) young people, it’s equally captivating for anyone older. Performed by four actors with the assistance only of microphones, they alternately speak, sing and create their own sound effects, right down to the arrival of The Monster.

The performers are wonderfully versatile, as comfortable in character as they are as backing singers for the songs peppering this production. (“Alone by the side of a B-Road” is one highlight.) It’s unjust to single out performers in such a talented ensemble but Gemma McElhinney is particularly touching as the girl who tries to will order out of chaos.

TAG does a brilliant job of highlighting the challenge faced by young carers across Scotland – but in such a non-preachy way that you’ll love coming along for the ride.

Mission Drift by TEAM Theatre @traversetheatre

Shows like Mission Drift don’t come along very often. It’s a sprawling epic of a piece, presented with verve, vigour and flair by this inventive, energetic New York based theatre company.

They tell two parallel tales that shadow the rise and decline of capitalism, symbolised by the rampant growth – and then crash – of Las Vegas, the city built on sand.

Catalina and Joris set sail from the Old World to the New in 1642. On arrival in America, they build and abandon and build in an endless cycle of greed. Joan was employed in a Vegas casino ‘til the market crashed and she lost her job. She struggles to hold onto the Vegas promise of a better tomorrow as the city falls into rubble around her.

To the accompaniment of an extraordinary soundtrack, delivered by the incredibly talented Heather Christian (as puppet master meets beauty queen), this production is a riot of colour, choreography and well-chosen words.

At almost two hours in length and laden with subtexts, this isn’t a frothy show. But the cast serve up the story with such commitment and creativity that it’s a pleasure to watch.

In a world paying the price for the increasing gap between those with money and those without, this is a fiercely topical piece that delivers plenty of food for thought.

Lethal Injection by Five-One Productions at C eca

The death penalty is still dealt out in more than 100 countries across the world. Sarah Goddard’s tightly written new play examines the impact of life on death row for four very different men and their warden.

Daniel Bottomley plays an overwrought husband who, after six years of the perfect marriage, found his wife in bed with another man and shot them both. Tom Skitt is a peculiarly charming unrepentant drunk driver who knocked down one too many people.

Graham Elwell is a hollow-eyed doctor haunted by guilt about the pain-racked patients he helped to die. And Matt Leigh is an unsettlingly frenetic serial killer, delighted with his handiwork. Anne Leone as their warden brings a touching humanity and kindness to their last days.

This play is beautifully, economically, directed by Sean Turner. A carefully orchestrated piece with a spare but inventive set and thoughtful lighting throws the story into stark relief. Is it ever right to repay the taking of a life by taking another? Topical stuff as the assisted suicide debate continues to rage in Scotland.

“Was I being selfish?” asks the man with the perfect marriage. “No” replies the doctor, “you were just being human.”

Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut from the Tron Theatre @ThePleasance

For fans of the film this is close to a dream ticket. For this is Casablanca, complete with Humphrey, Ingrid and a piano-playing Sam, transferred to Scotland, condensed and served up with a huge dollop of fun.

You’ll know the story. Rick runs a bar in Casablanca. The Nazis rule the roost. And into the melting pot step Ilsa and her underground resistance leader husband, Victor. Rick and Ilsa had their moment in Paris and then she ran out on him. And Rick’s never found out why.

In this fabulously inventive gin joint cut, the story is retold by a talented cast of three with the help of a variety of costumes, a versatile set and a multi-purpose fez. Gavin Mitchell is a startlingy convincing Bogart with all the magnetism of the screen legend. Clare Waugh and Jimmy Chisholm do a superb job of jumping in and out of costumes to recreate – all the other parts.

We’re served up all the essential quotes, the all important piano ballads, the tragic partings and even an audience-led rendition of the Marseillaise. This is an action-packed whirlwind of a show, full of fun, froth and fake smoke.

They’ll be playing it again until 29th August. A kiss is just a kiss – but this is ever such a fun one.


Post a Comment

<< Home