Archive for March, 2009

Travelling back from a haary Arbroath to a sunny Perth this afternoon on the train.  

The tea trolley came round, and my companion ordered a tea.   She rather fancied one of the muffins as well, but was not allowed to buy one.    “They are for the First Class passengers only”.    What’s that all about then?

I suggested to the cheerful trolley man that they don’t display them for the likes of us, and he said that this had been brought up, but no-one listens.

As we got nearer Perth, the trolley came back along (the train only had three carriages, and a tiny First Class bit), with its pile of muffins still unsold.    I’d be pretty cross if they get to Glasgow and unsold muffins have to be binned because they are stale.

My companion had shortbread instead.

You could not make it up, really.

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Edward Albee’s strange thrilling play about destructive mind games fuelled by industrial amounts of drink is given an absolutely stunning production at Dundee Rep.

Firstly, the set, designed by Phil Whitcomb extended into the space occupied by the first four rows of the stalls, and in an already very intimate theatre, we were effectively sitting right in Martha and George’s messy living room, which itself was set on a sea of broken glass.       Outside, the rain poured, and dripped off the veranda roof at the back of the set.      A studio space, if you like, allowing the play to build pressure as Martha and George raged at eachother and bullied their guests.

Irene Macdougall and Robert Patterson as Martha and George.   Photo Dundee Rep

Irene Macdougall and Robert Patterson as Martha and George. Photo Dundee Rep

Irene Macdougall as Martha, daughter of the college principal, and Robert Patterson as weak academic George gave just amazing performances, unravelling their complicated lives and playing ‘get the guests’ as the drink took hold.   

Dundee Rep should be congratulated on casting two newcomers as the young couple Honey and Nick.    Barely out of college, Alan Burgon and Gemma McElhinney also gave first-rate performances of which to be especially proud.  

Director James Brinning kept the action  going and wound up the intensity so that the pace never flagged at all during the three hours of play (+intervals).     The music by Ivan Stott added atmosphere, and I loved the dance to Thelonious Monk’s Well You Needn’t .   By the end, as dawn finally broke, and calm descended, actors and audience alike had been through a wringer of a journey.      It is perhaps unfair to single out anyone from such a great ensemble, but Robert Patterson as George was simply outstanding – not in control of his family, burnt out in his career, but finally manipulating the action to his own ends.     His rage was genuinely dangerous and alarming.

Catch it if you get the chance – on until 21st March.   Scottish theatre at its best.

Oh ……..  last time we saw this play at Dundee, a certain young David Tennant was playing Nick.

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Straight off, I like Red Nose Day – people doing something funny for money and raising funds for good causes.    It captures the imagination of the UK, and many ordinary people as well as celebrities do daft things.     It is a genuinely laudable initiative, and many people benefit from the considerable sums raised every two years here as well as abroad.

I tuned into BBC post watershed and watched the coverage.   I was hoping to be entertained, but in fact was assaulted (and there is no other word for it) by weepy presenters showing footage  of children actually dying and their coffins being put into the ground.    It was genuinely shocking, and perhaps that was the point.    I just felt very unprepared for, and very uncomfortable with the emotional blackmail.     I was being backed into a corner, and not entirely convinced by the explanations given that money would solve the huge problems we were being asked to get our heads around.     Aid solutions are very much more complicated, and I needed to know more detail.  

I can’t say I am happy about feeling this way, but I don’t think I will be the only one .    I just feel very used as a viewer.

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