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Archive for November 30th, 2008

The Traverse and the National Theatre of Scotland have put on 4 new plays this autumn.    I missed Cockroach but caught this double bill as well as Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us.

Both of these new plays were directed by Domenic Hill, and Naomi Wilkinson designed the sets.    The pair have worked together before, notably at Dundee rep for Peer Gynt  and Midsummer Night’s Dream which both won set design awards.    The latter involved a large amount of water, used to great effect.

So, the Dogstone was a two hander by new playwright Kenny Lindsay about a father, Danskin and his son Lorn, set in Oban.    Andy Gray played the now alcoholic father – how good to see him in a serious role, and Scott Fletcher was the boy.     While both performances were very good, I was not convinced there was enough to make this worthwhile, although there were some interesting father/son moments.

After the break, it was Andy Duffy’s Nasty Brutish and Short.    The set was some furniture and piles of magazines placed in about 3 inches of water.    There was en electric bar fire sitting in the water too, and a sort of sparky (in a short circuit way) soundscape.    And the piece was very edgy indeed involving a teenaged couple Mary Jane and Luke (Ashley Smith and James Young) and Luke’s elder brother Jim played by Martin Docherty.     At first the actors wandered in and out of the water, but as things became more animated, water went everywhere, and I found this effective.    But this was a dark, dark tale with a particularly brutal rape scene – yes, thrashing about in the water.   

I generally like a challenge when I go to the theatre, but I did struggle with this.   Perhaps because it was seen in a week when the newspapers were printing the real story of ‘Baby P’ in simply unreadable detail that it threw up more questions than it might have otherwise done.    In the end, I was not actually sure what we were supposed to take away from this, apart from the fact that it lived up to its title.

I like Traverse 1 in the round, although it means that we do see backs of heads for at least some of the performance.    You also get to see the rest of the audience, and there have been some very famous Scottish faces in the ranks.     I also like the fact that Domenic Hill, the Traverse director, is always around somewhere, if not at the actual production, then networking in the bar.    To be fair, his predecessor Philip Howard was also ‘omnipresent’.      A sign of a good theatre.

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Midsummer – Traverse

A crowded diary ment that getting to Midsummer  – a new play with songs from David Greg was –  looking unlikely.   But a glowing review from Waldorf and Statler over at View From the Stalls, and being a long-time David Greg fan, made this a ‘must see’.

And what a hugely enjoyable night it was.   A story about a man and woman from different social strata in Edinburgh who are thrown together by events over a mad midsummer weekend.   Sex, drink, a Tesco bag of hot money, a chase through Edinburgh and a great joke about the hated Trams made for a very funny evening of sheer craziness.    It was wonderfully performed by Cora Bisset (Helena) and Matthew Pidgeon (Bob) who acted superbly and sang and played guitars.    The audience played its part too, and I loved Bob’s Annual Conference.

Although the run ended a while ago, apparently this may well come back in the Festival, when there will be a script at accompany the Fleetwood Mac single I received in my programme pack.    And, yes, I do still have the equipment to play it!

Midsummer harked back to a much earlier and equally successful David Greg play, also set firmly in the Capital, called Caledonia Dreaming.    Perhaps we will see both next summer.

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