7 December 2011 The Guardian

A Christmas Carol

Adapted by Graham McLaren. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

WICKED witches and angry giants may be stalking stages across the land, but none can be as terrifying as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future that haunt this tremendous adaptation of the Dickens novella. The first venture into the seasonal market by the National Theatre of Scotland, Graham McLaren's production begins in an atmosphere of prank-playing jollity as the cast welcomes us into the offices of Scrooge and Marley, tearing up our tickets and showing us to our seats, but switches into the realm of gothic horror once it's time for Scrooge to face his demons.


4 November 2011 The Guardian


By John Retallack. A National Theatre of Scotland/Company of Angels review.

In only one of the sketch-like scenes in John Retallack's community show for the National Theatre of Scotland and Company of Angels does anything that could be called truancy take place. It involves two teenagers skipping their chemistry class, only to get caught by their head teacher in a shopping centre. For one girl, it'll be detention; for the other, it could mean expulsion. Who's to blame: the child or the authorities?


28 October 2011The Guardian


By Abi Morgan. A National Theatre of Scotland/Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

MAUREEEN Beattie enters with her hair dripping wet. It's not a conventional way for an actor to come on, still less so when playing a would-be mother superior. As she sets off for a daily swim in the icy waters beyond the convent's brutalist concrete walls, Sister Ursula Mary is not your stereotypical stage nun: someone calls her the "rock star of the ecclesiastical world".


4 October 2011 The Guardian

Calum's Road

By David Harrower (from the book by Roger Hutchinson). A Communicado/National Theatre of Scotland review

IT'S a road that really exists. Nearly two miles long, it goes from South Arnish to Brochel Castle on the Inner Hebridean island of Raasay. Built in the 1960s, it is the single-handed work of Calum MacLeod, an islander who grew so frustrated with the council's failure to construct a road that he just did it himself.

4 October 2011 Northings

Calum's Road

By David Harrower (from the book by Roger Hutchinson). A Communicado/National Theatre of Scotland review

WITHOUT telling anyone, the National Theatre of Scotland has mounted a mini-festival of the work of Gerry Mulgrew, the celebrated founder of Communicado. By day, you can see a revival of his Tall Tales for Small People, an exuberant show for children (and adults with good taste) that the director first staged in 1995. By night, you can see Calum's Road, Mulgrew's latest work, performed by the same six-strong ensemble.


4 October 2011 Northings

Tall Tales for Small People

By Gerry Mulgrew (adapted from stories told by Duncan Williamson). A Communicado/National Theatre of Scotland review

IN ESSEX the row is rumbling on at Dale Farm where the local council is trying to evict 86 Traveller families from what it is says is an unauthorised site. On a smaller scale, there is a similarly frosty reception for the family that pulls up its caravan on a patch of former common land in Tall Tales for Small People. Night may be drawing in, but the game keeper wants them to move on. There is no alternative site nearby, but the family must pack up.


27 September 2011 Northings

Men Should Weep

By Ena Lamont Stewart. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

AFTER all these years it shouldn't still be such a surprise, but one of the many remarkable things about Ena Lamont Stewart's 1947 tenement tragedy is how many women there are on stage. Although the playwright's subject is the Depression of the 1930s when unemployment among working-class men was at a height, she shows the impact of poverty in terms of its effect not on men, but on the home, traditionally the realm of women.


22 September 2011 The Guardian

Men Should Weep

By Ena Lamont Stewart. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

THE tenement flat is claustrophobic, cramped and colourless. There is no room for manoeuvre between sink, table and bed, yet new people constantly arrive and are somehow absorbed. In Ena Lamont Stewart's 1947 slice-of-life tragedy, the inhabitants are caged creatures who can do nothing but lash out. So when Arthur Johnstone walks on stage between scenes to sing a working-class folk song, he brings a heady shift in perspective.


11 September 2011 Scotland on Sunday

Interview with Graham McLaren, director

On Men Should Weep. A National Theatre of Scotland preview.

IT WAS neglected for more than 30 years, all but wiped off the theatrical map, but today Men Should Weep is back in favour. Produced by Glasgow Unity Theatre in 1947, Ena Lamont Stewart's play about a family on the poverty line was a notable success, but it would have disappeared from the repertoire for good had it not been for 7:84's Clydebuilt season in 1982 when it was revived to tremendous acclaim by director Giles Havergal.

19 June 2011 The Scotsman

Five-Minute Theatre project comes to life

A National Theatre of Scotland preview.

MARIANNE Maxwell is sitting with an outsize Excel spreadsheet in front of her, a riot of colour-coding. The red is for Aberdeen, the peach is Glasgow, the yellow a school in Haddington. Other colours indicate roving teams of technicians.


9 June 2011 The Guardian

Knives in Hens

By David Harrower. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

THERE was I thinking Knives in Hens was one of those plays that didn't change much from production to production. David Harrower's astonishing 1995 debut is set in an unspecified rural place where mechanisation gets no more sophisticated than the village mill and language itself is blunt and functional. Standard practice is to establish a pre-industrial atmosphere suggesting sackcloth, cattle and grain, then to let the three actors get on with the brain-versus-brawn love story.

8 June 2011 Northings

Knives in Hens

By David Harrower. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

IF you remember David Harrower's debut play as a quiet and meditative study of elemental passions set in the pre-industrial countryside, you are in for a shock when you see this National Theatre of Scotland revival. It is still about elemental passions but, under the direction of Lies Pauwels, it is no longer quiet, meditative or even pre-industrial. With an approach that, on one hand, is finely tuned to the play's deeper impulses and, on the other, is unconcerned about its surface realism, the Belgian director turns Knives in Hens inside out. The result may infuriate or thrill, but either way, it will not leave you cold.


20 May 2011 The Guardian


By David Greig. A National Theatre of Scotland/Royal Lyceum/RSC review.

THE battle appears to be won. Some kind of peace is taking hold. But the war has thrown up unforeseen problems. The word goes out: "Tell the men we'll be in Scotland a little longer than expected. And suddenly we are not only in 11th-century Perthshire, where the English army is seeking to impose order after the death of Macbeth, but also in a modern-day Iraq or Afghanistan.

12 Apr 2011 The Guardian

Girl X

Interview with Pol Heyvaert and Robert Softley. A National Theatre of Scotland preview.

IT'S early 2008, and the National Theatre of Scotland has asked Belgian theatre director Pol Heyvaert to work with Scottish actor and playwright Robert Softley. Heyvaert likes the ideas for a new play that Softley has sent him, and is looking forward to exploring them in the rehearsal room.



22 March 2011 The Guardian


By Iain Finlay Macleod. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

WHAT do you have left when you strip away your home, your personal possessions and your loved ones? For some, it might be a sense of selfhood, spirituality or oneness with the universe. For playwright Iain Finlay Macleod, all that remains is language. And the dilemma for his central character, James, in this poignant and playful drama for the National Theatre of Scotland, is that even the words are disappearing.

18 March 2011 Northings


By Iain Finlay Macleod. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

WHAT value is there in speaking Gaelic? For entrepreneur James, there is none. He can measure the money he made from the video games industry, he can calculate the price of his up-market London home and he can ask his financial advisor for a figure for his collection of abstract art. Perhaps he couldnÕt reduce his wife Alison to pounds, shillings and pence, but thereÕs a feeling even she is a trophy he has been able to buy thanks to his considerable fortune.


8 March 2011 Northings

Girl X

By Pol Heyvaert and Robert Softley. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

"KEEP parents away from decision making," says Robert Softley as the emotional temperature rises in this fascinating show by the National Theatre of Scotland. The community chorus who stand around him are momentarily lost for words. How could anyone possibly advocate such a thing? Softley backtracks a little, but he is in earnest. As a disability rights activist, he is unconvinced that parents of children with disabilities are the best ones to make choices about their children's well-being on their behalf.

7 March 2011 The Guardian

Girl X

By Pol Heyvaert and Robert Softley. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

ROBERT Softley is telling the true story of a girl whose parents put her through surgery rather than let her face the onset of an adulthood which, they felt, would only make her profound disabilities worse. The actor is surrounded by a 16-strong community chorus and, as he describes the girl's condition, they break into sympathetic song. With a look of horror, he asks them what they're doing. "We're a choir Ð that's what choirs do," they reply in unison.


12 February 2011 The Guardian

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

By David Greig. A National Theatre of Scotland review.

A SMALL academic industry is building around the work of David Greig. Books are appearing with titles such as The Sense of Place and Identity in David Greig's Plays and the forthcoming Transnational Identities. You can imagine the playwright himself would be bemused by such attention. It doesn't seem quite in the self-reflexive spirit of The Cosmonaut's Last Message, let alone the throwaway charm of The Monster in the Hall. Perhaps that is why Greig sets The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart in a world of academic pedants, a place of memes, signifiers and post-post-structuralists, where the head triumphs over the heart every time.

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