Reviews & features: Theatre

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Planet Lem

21 Aug 20123 stars

Sci-fi spectacle is impressive to watch but lacking in story

Based on the science fiction stories of the Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, Teatr Biuro Podrozy’s new outdoor extravaganza, Planet Lem, presents the tale of a nightmarish dystopia, where machines rule people and people are completely reliant on machines…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

21 Aug 20122 stars

Shakespeare adaptation barely scratches the surface of the play’s comic potential

In detention with Mr Goodfellow, seven secondary-school pupils are forced – as if by magic – to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream for some misdemeanour. However, the school setting is quickly dropped, forgotten for a bog-standard staging, and it starts…

Love Letters to the Public Transport System

21 Aug 20123 stars

Life-affirming monologue celebrates society’s unsung heroes

The premise of Molly Taylor’s monologue sounds, in summary, so precious you wouldn’t expect it to work as a piece of drama. In 2009, following a painful break-up and the loss of her permanent job, Taylor travelled by bus to London where a chance meeting…

Wuthering Heights

20 Aug 20123 stars

Emily Brontë adaptation by young Cardiff players is a praiseworthy production

Rarely has fiction portrayed the negative as well as positive emotions of love than in Emily Brontë’s masterpiece. Heathcliff and Cathy's passionate, never harmonious yearning is, of course, at the heart of the story, yet the novel's complex narrative…

Monkey Bars

20 Aug 20125 stars

Kids say the profoundest things

‘Sometimes adults don’t really listen to children,’ suggests the actor playing dialogue artist Karl James at the start of Chris Goode’s masterful new verbatim play. And that’s exactly what this astonishing piece seems to be telling us – that there’s so…

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Bigmouth

20 Aug 20125 stars

Enthralling roller-coaster through history and its (in)humanity by Valentijn Dhaenens

‘History not merely touches on language, but takes place in it.’ This quote from the German philosopher Adorno could summarise the underlying themes of SkaGeN’s Bigmouth. The show makes the (perhaps not obvious connection) between figures of great…

Mies Julie

20 Aug 20125 stars

Essential adaptation of Strindberg’s classic

Truly great productions of classic texts can reveal the play within the play. Who knew that beneath the staid formality of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie lurked a play as explosive and heartwrenching as Yael Farber’s South African-set rewrite? Like…

Beats

20 Aug 20124 stars

Tremendous recreation of rave culture

Tremendous recreation of rave culture In 1994 the UK Criminal Justice and Public Order Act outlawed gatherings of more than 100 people with a soundtrack of ‘amplified music characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats’. In the…

Uninvited

20 Aug 20122 stars

Ambitious production fails to spring to life

Our unnamed protagonist, obsessed by order and routine, returns home from work to discover a stranger in his house. So he makes him a cup of tea. But that’s the least of his worries: the talking wallpaper seems to have opinions on everything, and his…

And They Played Shang-a-Lang

20 Aug 20123 stars

Bay City Rollers jukebox musical is boisterous good fun

If a semi-autobiographical jukebox musical about salad days in Scotland sounds grim -- and it should -- Derek Douglas’ nostalgia fest is surprisingly good fun. Local amateur company Craft Theatre’s 15-strong cast perform with such gusto and evident…

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Gulliver's Travels

19 Aug 20124 stars

Savage and funny adaptation of Swift’s satire

The Victorians considered Gulliver's Travels a kid's book, chortling at the notion of a big man in a tiny world and quietly omitting Gulliver's horrified realisation that the bestial Yahoos are in fact human. That uncomfortable final part of the book is…

Children's shows from Scotland at 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

19 Aug 2012

Shows from Catherine Wheels, Frozen Charlotte, Le Petit Monde and more

It’s great to have so many visiting companies at the Fringe, but just for a moment, we’re going to celebrate the home-grown Scottish talent right on our doorstep The Ballad of Pondlife McGurk One of Scotland’s finest children’s theatre companies…

Angels

19 Aug 20123 stars

Powerful monologue with a stunning central performance

Save for a single hanging strip-light, the studio space at the Traverse is so utterly bare that you begin to suspect the audience has been the victim of a cruel practical joke. But then actor Iain Robertson appears and strikes up the opening passages of…

An Appointment with the Wicker Man

19 Aug 20123 stars

A populist comedy success from Greg Hemphill, Donald McLeary and Vicky Featherstone

Of course the idea of a musical version of acclaimed horror movie The Wicker Man is absurd. That’s pretty much the point of the National Theatre of Scotland’s play-within-a-play from writers Greg Hemphill and Donald Mcleary and director Vicky…

How to Start a Riot

19 Aug 20123 stars

Nifty political piece that fizzes with questions and ideas

Mark Duggan’s death at the hands of the police sparked last summer’s riots: four days of violent disorder and looting all over the country. But, as Worklight Theatre point out, sparks don’t catch without fuel and flames don’t spread without…

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Songs of Lear

17 Aug 20125 stars

A sublime version of the Bard’s tragedy, in its purest form

Imagine King Lear in pill form, the Shakespearean equivalent of Willy Wonka’s Three-Course Dinner Chewing Gum. Or contained in a single firework. What about Lear: the new fragrance from Christian Dior? Baffling as this all sounds, it’s pretty much what…

(remor)

17 Aug 20124 stars

Potent micro-theatre probes a couple’s break up

The most potent things always come in the smallest doses: shots of espresso, measures of vodka, and in this case an 11-minute piece of dance that cuts to the core of a couple’s broken relationship. Even the wooden box that performers Marta Barceló and…

Othello – The Remix

17 Aug 20124 stars

Energetic reimagining of the Moor of Venice

The third of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s highly successful adaptations of the bard – following The Bomb-itty of Errors and Funk It Up About Nothing in recent years – Othello: the Remix reimagines the Moor of Venice as an American rap god, recently…

As Ye Sow

17 Aug 20123 stars

Strong performances and mounting tension in well-conceived ghost story

Without the use of special effects horror can be quite tricky to bring to the stage with the result that ghost stories are usually the sub-genre of choice for the theatre. The audience can fill in the gaps that clever editing or CGI would usually…

Waiting for Stanley

17 Aug 20124 stars

Keep calm and carry on clowning

A woman with a red clown nose waits on a luggage-filled railway platform for her wartime sweetie to return. As her wait grows, she raids the suitcases around her, each contributing props to a captivating series of tales drawn from the experiences of…

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Oh, the Humanity and Other Good Intentions

17 Aug 20124 stars

Marvellous quintet of short plays with excellent performances

Marvellous quintet of short plays with excellent performances Isn’t self-consciousness a ball-ache? It ups the ante, rather, as if all eyes are on you and you’re barely making sense, let alone delivering the goods, and you still haven’t found what…

Good Grief

17 Aug 20123 stars

Meandering musical hour of delightful schadenfreude

Gone Rogue’s likeable, funeral-set musical might start off in a subdued atmosphere of deep sorrow, but by the end of the show most of the mourners have ended up half naked, high on hash cookies or reeling from shocking family revelations. Using a family…

The Shit / La Merda

17 Aug 20124 stars

Howl of human emotion makes for unforgettable theatre

Raw, touching, intelligent and mesmerising, Cristian Ceresoli’s The Shit is an unforgettable piece of theatre that reveals our universal inner thoughts, fears, desires and memory with almost frightening accuracy. Comprised of a powerful and…

Rubies in the Attic

17 Aug 20124 stars

Inspired and uplifting cabaret-style show

Ancestry, lineage and belonging form the basis of The Ruby Dolls’ Rubies in the Attic, an invigorating and fun piece of theatre. Comprised of music, close harmony singing, puppetry and physical theatre, this show uses each Doll’s family history to chart…

The Council of the Ordinary

17 Aug 20123 stars

B-Boying takes a turn towards the dark side

It’s beat battles and break moves but not as you know them, in this triple bill from breakdancing troupe Bad Taste Cru. As well as flipping themselves into spins, the Cru, originally from Northern Ireland, also demonstrate the dance’s potential to…