6 April 2017 The Guardian

The Girl in the Machine

By Stef Smith. A Traverse Theatre review.

THE lines of Neil Warmington’s set are straight and enclosing. The shipping-container walls roll back to reveal an oblong room where four cushioned cubes sit between the right angles of the Escher-like flooring and the squares of the grating above. It’s a chic space where married couple Owen and Polly can look cool and sophisticated. Naturally, when he surprises her with a present, it comes wrapped in a neat black box. But we all know about square pegs and round holes. In Stef Smith’s gripping two-hander, a piece of dystopian sci-fi in the manner of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, flesh-and-blood humanity is not easily contained. Where Polly would like to take refuge in the rectangular screen of her tablet computer, with its constant email pings from her work in corporate law, she is pulled equally by the erotic force of her husband’s real-life presence.

11 December 2016 The Guardian

Black Beauty

By Shona Reppe, Andy Cannon and Andy Manley. A Traverse Theatre review.

THEY should have called it Horse Play. This collaboration between Shona Reppe, Andy Manley and Andy Cannon is not so much an adaptation of the Anna Sewell novel as a free-associating theatrical gymkhana. A triumph of object-theatre stagecraft, it takes a rosette-worthy canter through a stableful of horse-themed gags, while paying touching testament to the value of resilience. For a while, it looks as if it’ll have nothing to do with Black Beauty at all. Manley and Cannon play the Famous McCuddy Brothers, equestrian illusionists stranded on the outskirts of Edinburgh for want of employment in the pantomime-horse business. Not until they resort to selling their belongings do they start reading their late mother’s copy of the novel, enacting its most memorable adventures as they go.


10 December 2015 The Guardian

Tracks of the Winter Bear

By Stephen Greenhorn and Rona Munro. A Traverse Theatre review.

IT'S THE law that every theatre in the land must mark the season with primary-coloured excess. But not so the Traverse, where playwrights Stephen Greenhorn and Rona Munro have written one-act companion pieces that treat winter as a time of “sorrow and regret”. For them, this is less the festive season than a period of retrenchment. Rebirth can wait until spring. It’s not just the grey tones of Kai Fischer’s undulating transverse set that are muted. Even witty turns of phrase – of which there are many – leap out from a default position of sombre reflection.

12 December 2014 The Guardian

The Devil Masters

By Iain Finlay Macleod. A Traverse Theatre review.

YOU KNOW when you’re given a Christmas present, and you smile gratefully even though it’s misshapen, not to your taste and you’re not sure what it actually is? That’s what Orla O’Loughlin’s production of this comedy by Iain Finlay Macleod is like. The Devil Masters seems well intentioned, but it is hard to know what to do with it. The scene is in an Edinburgh New Town living room – realised in stiflingly naturalistic detail by Anthony Lamble – where the Christmas Eve preparations of two dog-loving advocates are interrupted by an intruder with designs on their Skye terrier. One kidnap, attempted robbery and assault later, the tables are turned and the lawyers take charge. By the end, the tables have turned twice more.


19 December 2012 The Guardian

The Arthur Conan Doyle Appreciation Society

By John Nicholson and Steven Canny. A Traverse Theatre/Peepolykus review.

IN the bar at the Traverse, there's a blackboard where the audience can vote on whether they believe in the afterlife or not. At my last count, the sceptics had the majority. But, even as an atheist, you feel a bit of a spoilsport for chalking up your belief that this is as good as it gets. There's a similar sense of ambivalence inside the theatre, where artistic director Orla O'Loughlin has drafted in touring company Peepolykus to consider the strange case of Arthur Conan Doyle.


8 November 2012 The Guardian

The Artist Man and the Mother Woman

By Morna Pearson. A Traverse Theatre review.

THE wag who described Morna Pearson as the Dr Dre of Scottish theatre was probably exaggerating. The Elgin-born playwright is no gangsta rapper, though you can't deny the social dysfunction and casual violence of her view on the world. Her 2006 play Distracted was about a boy damaged by the death of his junkie mother and preyed on by a sex-starved older woman. Likewise, her latest, The Artist Man and the Mother Woman, a vivid 100 minutes, deals with incest, assault, stalking and murder.

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