By Noel Coward. A Perth Theatre review.
GHOSTS, as we all know, are pallid creatures. Not so in this revival of Noel Coward's supernatural comedy. In contrast to the transparent drapes, pastel fittings and twinkling chandeliers of Kenny Miller's 1940s set, Sally Reid's deceased Elvira is a blood-red apparition whose fiery tresses and scarlet robes project the image of a woman with more pulse and passion, dead or not, than any of the delicate human beings she has returned to haunt.
WE are in a relentlessly masculine landscape. The towering, grey edifice of Kenny Miller's set looms over an all-male cast dressed in muted colours, their clothes looking as bruised as their battle-worn faces. Even the witches in Rachel O'Riordan's formidable production are played by men. Gaunt, angular, hard as nails – they are weird sisters indeed.Keith Fleming's Macbeth is tough, plain-speaking and austere, which is why Leila Crerar's Lady Macbeth makes such an impression when she appears in an off-white shawl, bathed in the glow of Kevin Treacy's majestic lighting. She is – and will remain – the only woman on stage.
By Conor McPherson. A Perth Theatre review.
IN THE BAR after the show, two of the staff are playing cards. It looks like a game of snap rather than the poker that has dominated the second half of Conor McPherson's play, but you can see where they got the idea from. Like the endless stream of Irish whiskey and American lager consumed on stage, the card playing is as addictive for the characters as it is compelling for us. It takes extra will power not to leave the theatre and go straight to a gambling den.
By Frank McGuinness. A Perth Theatre review.
PLAYWRIGHTS like to show us characters under pressure. They have to be careful, however, not to impose so much pressure their characters simply walk off stage. Whatever the dramatic scenario, the characters have to have a reason for putting up with the discomfort and not doing a runner. In Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, playwright Frank McGuinness has the perfect excuse. As hostages chained up in a miserable cell in the Lebanon, his three characters have no option but to stay.
By William Shakespeare. A Perth Theatre review.
IF IT'S a bold start you're after, you can't fault Rachel O'Riordan. Making her debut as artistic director at Perth Theatre, the former choreographer from Northern Ireland is fielding upwards of 14 actors in the company's first Shakespeare for six years. It sets her inaugural season off to a confident, unapologetic start, but unfortunately, not a wholly satisfying one.
By Arthur Miller. A Perth Theatre production.
ARTHUR Miller's great mid-20th century dramas rarely let you down – but there are times when they seem more pertinent. When Miller directed Death of a Salesman in China, for example, it seemed to speak for a culture far removed from the one in which it was written. Its theme about a life built on the illusory promise of good times to come resonated in early 1980s Beijing.
16 February 2011 Northings
By Arthur Miller. A Perth Theatre production.
ARTHUR Miller's working title for Death of a Salesman was The Inside of His Head. Perhaps that title is not as catchy, but it gives you an idea of the formal experiment the playwright was attempting. Death of a Salesman is a mainstream play – it clocked up 742 performances on Broadway after its debut in 1949 – and because of that, you can forget how unorthodox its dreamlike structure is.
By Tony Roper. Review.
PEOPLE sometimes say the reason Tony Roper's wash-house comedy works so well – and in Alison Peebles' main stage revival it works very well indeed – is because of its nostalgia. They suggest there's something soft-centred about the way it harks back to the 1950s before the close-knit communities of working-class Glasgow had been broken up by slum clearances. Audiences, they believe, love the sentimental myth about an era when people looked out for each other and nobody was ever lonely.
By Robert Burns adapted by Gerry Mulgrew. Perth Theatre review.
THERE is a band doing the rounds called the Bum-Clocks who make the unlikely connection between Robert Burns and Iggy Pop. They would be very much at home in Perth, where director Gerry Mulgrew uses Burns's narrative poem Tam O'Shanter as the backbone for a ceilidh celebration of the bard's lust for life. It's more shaggy-dog story than focused drama, but it still hits home as a vigorous bolt of creative energy.
By John Steinbeck. Perth Theatre review.
"If I was alone I could live so easy," says George to Lennie as the slow-witted giant lands him in trouble again. But the truth of John Steinbeck's heartbreaking drama is that being a team is what sets these men apart. We like to think atomisation is a product of the post-Thatcher era, but in the California of the Depression, there is nothing more suspicious for Steinbeck's farmhands than the partnership of George and Lennie. Their friendship is a subversive act.
By Lillian Hellman
WHEN Elizabeth Taylor made her UK stage debut in a widely savaged production of The Little Foxes in 1982, more than one reviewer likened Lillian Hellman's melodrama to Dallas, the TV soap opera. Substitute deep south cotton farmers for Texas oilmen and you can see what they meant. First staged in 1939 with Tallulah Bankhead in the lead, and later filmed with Bette Davis, the play paints an unflattering portrait of three wealthy siblings whose scheme to extract extra profit from their land turns in on itself with enough plot twists to satisfy any fan of JR.
IF you're going to do Racine, you're as well to keep it austere. The work of the 17th-century playwright is drama at its most distilled: intense, spartan and unremitting. There is no room for chatter or levity when there are great tracts of poetic soul-searching to get through.
By Vivien Adam
THE spirit of the Lord Chamberlain is alive and well and prowling the estates of dead playwrights. We should have been seeing Night Must Fall right now, but those entrusted with the legacy of playwright Emlyn Williams refused to sanction director Ken Alexander's proposed update. It's hardly as if Perth is known for avant-garde revisionism, but censorship is rarely logical.
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