It has been a rich year in the arts in Scotland, although the exceptional has remained elusive.
23 plays seen. In Perth, the year kicked off with an excellent adaptation of Tam O Shanter, and took in the tour of Be Near Me. With a good cast, Silver Darlings promised much but never quite produced a sum of its parts, which was a disappointment. In Glasgow, at the Citizens, we enjoyed Ghosts, and a pre-Edinburgh festival production of a Rona Munro’s new play The Last Witch. At the Tron, we liked That Face, and White Tea. In Edinburgh, Gregory Burke’s latest play Hoors was not a patch on Black Watch, or Gagarin Way, but we liked The Dark Things a lot. National Theatre of Scotland’s big autumn production of House of Bernara Alba was interesting, but just did not quite work. For consistently good theatre in Scotland, Dundee Rep is punching way above its weight exemplified by a really excellent Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? which gets my best of the year vote. There was also a very good production of The Elephant Man, directed by Jemima Levick – the incoming assistant director, who also directed a touring production of Baby Baby (seen at Macrobert), which was enjoyable, but had rather weak material. Dundee also put on a really special version of A Christmas Carol. Nationally, we enjoyed Ken Stott in a View from the Bridge when it came to Glasgow, Theatre de Complicite’s Shun Kin at the Barbican in London, and Inherit the Wind at the Old Vic. We missed Sub Rosa, at the Citizens which was a pity.
9 Operas. RSAMD opera school continued to entertain with The Love of Three Oranges and the Tales of Hoffman. Scottish Opera produced another set of five fifteen minute operas at Oran Mor, and will have a third set in May 2010. Main house, Scottish Opera has had a good season with solid productions of Cosi, Manon, the Elixir of Love, and the Italian Girl in Algiers. Concert performances of operas don’t do it for me usually, but there was a one performance only of I Puritani at Glasgow City Hall, which was outstanding. We enjoyed the new opera Letters of a Love Betrayed which had one performance at The Traverse.
We have been to quite a few Youth Orchestra Concerts this year, which we have enjoyed. The Scottish Ensemble continue to tour with well thought out programmes and general excellence. In Perth, we heard Theatre of Voices with Bang on a Can playing Steve Reich pieces and David Lang’s co-comissioned (Perth Concert Hall with Carnegie Hall in New York) Little Match Girl Passion. But outstanding performance of 2009 was actually caught on holiday in Krakow where the Wroclaw Symphony Orchestra played a stunning Mahler 9.
We did not get to much by way of dance this year, but enjoyed Michael Marra and Frank McConnell’s Wee Home from Home – first performed 20 years ago , and revived by original director Gerry Mulgrew with new designs by Karen Tennant.
2009 was a memorable year for film, and we liked the genuinely unusual Slumdog Millionaire, the quirky 35 Shots of Rum, Katalin Varga’s smouldering revenge, Jane Campion’s Bright Star, Cannes winner White Ribbon, Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, and even Opera on the big screen: Cosi fan Tutti (Salzberg festival production). I was less sure about Moon, the sci-fi film from Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son). An Education and Let The Right One In were special highlights.
We visted the Anish Kapoor exhibition in London – great dods of bright red wax being fired out of a cannon every 20 minutes into a corner of a room – lots of other stuff too. Highly entertaining.
2010 has some interesting things ‘coming soon’, and the New Year’s resolution is to write about them here in more detail.
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