Lanark (4 stars)

This article is from 2015


credit: Eoin Carey

Edinburgh International Festival and Citizens Theatre take on Alasdair Gray’s classic novel

Long held to be an unstagable piece of work, Alastair Gray’s Lanark, originally published in 1981 after nearly 30 years in the making, arrives at the Lyceum Theatre with the great weight of expectation on its shoulders. Nearly 600 pages long, bringing this cult classic to life is an ambitious undertaking. Yet what has been produced is a bold, bonkers and brilliant production that should please even the most die-hard of Gray fans.

Comprising three acts arranged in the order of two, one and three and set in the disintegrating cites of Unthank and Glasgow, we follow the interwoven stories of Lanark and Duncan, as we journey through youth, death and the afterlife in the fantastical imagination of Alasdair Gray.

Directed by Graham Eatough from an adaptation by David Greig, Lanark is loud, large and visually stunning, from dragons to hellish clubs and nightmarish worlds.

Backed up by a tremendous cast, with Sandy Grierson excelling at the centre of it all as the lead character, the laughs come in thick and fast. Yet the show never loses its darker edge or deviates from its larger core themes.

The production does run for nearly four hours, which may be a bit much for some people – though there are two intervals which will ease the pressure on weary bottoms. However, the time does pass by very quickly thanks to the dazzling entertainment before our eyes.

Wildly surreal and beautifully executed, the staging of Lanark appears to be a risk that's paid off.

Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until 31 Aug (not 26).

Lanark: A Life in Three Acts

  • 4 stars

A young man arrives in a dying city with seashells in his pockets. He doesn’t know who he is, or how he got here. He goes by the only name he can think of: Lanark. This theatrical re-imagining of Alasdair Gray’s seminal work takes us from the Dragon Chambers to the Cathedral of Unthank, from post-war Glasgow School of Art…