14 Dec 2019 The Guardian

I Can Go Anywhere

By Douglas Maxwell. A Traverse Theatre review.

JIMMY says he doesn't want to be a story. An asylum seeker in Glasgow, he refuses to be defined by the trauma that has brought him here. Rather, his hunger for a positive identity has drawn him to a peculiarly British form of youth culture. Dressed in a natty check suit and hanging up his parka, he intrudes on a stranger's flat and reveals his true self: "I'm a fucking mod."

LunaDaiinStrangeTalesImagebyTommyGaKenWan4 Dec 2019 The Guardian

Strange Tales

By Pauline Lockhart and Ben Harrison. A Traverse and Grid Iron theatre review

BEING human is a risk. You never know when a fox will try to seduce you or a ghost will attempt to drain your blood. Don't you just hate it when tiny creatures take residence in your eyes? And why is there always a demon or clay monster to fend off? This is the way of things in the imagination of Pu Songling, the 17th-century author of Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, a compendium of 431 tales of the supernatural which, on publication 50 years after his death, acquired a Brothers Grimm-like status in China.

9 Dec 2018 The Guardian


By Kieran Hurley. A Traverse Theatre review.

KIERAN Hurley’s provocative two-hander is an Edinburgh play in the tradition of Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Jekyll and Hyde and Trainspotting. The Scottish capital is a place of social and geographical extremes, where rich and poor live in close quarters blindly oblivious of each other. As a city, it is sometimes said to be “all fur coat and nae knickers”, the well-to-do haunted by the dirty secrets they try to repress, the less fortunate shoved out of sight. Which means when a middle-class writer meets a working-class artist on Salisbury Crags, they could be talking a different language. Libby (Neve McIntosh) launches into a long speech about her cruel career trajectory from hotly tipped playwright to compromised has-been.

JenniferBlackNeshlaCaplaninArcticOilImageRobertoRicciuti10 Oct 2018 The Guardian

Arctic Oil

By Clare Duffy. A Traverse Theatre review.

OPENING in the week the UN has made dire warnings about climate change, Clare Duffy’s two-hander about an ecowarrior and her conservative mother could hardly be more timely. It pits Neshla Caplan, as a young activist preparing to join a Greenpeace-style protest at an Arctic Circle oil rig, against Jennifer Black as her head-in-the-sand mother, who would sooner her daughter put the safety of her family before that of the planet. For all its topicality, however, Arctic Oil skirts around the issues before being diverted into a schmaltzy generation-gap drama.

KirstyStuartPhotoMihaelaBodlovicWriterFrancesPoetDirectorZinnieHarrisDesignerFredMellerComposerMJMcCarthyLightingDesignerKaiFischerAssistantDirectorIslaCowan15 April 2018 The Guardian


By Frances Poet. A Traverse/NTS theatre review.

WHEN Iago causes Othello to doubt himself, it only takes the slightest trigger for the seed of jealousy to take root. It’s the same in Frances Poet’s Gut, except what gnaws away at Kirsty Stuart’s Maddy, turning her from a sparky young mother into a neurotic creature of violent intent, is the possibility – just the possibility – that her toddler, Joshua, has been abused by a stranger. The evidence is as circumstantial as Desdemona’s misplaced handkerchief, but such is her protective instinct – initially supported and sometimes exceeded by Peter Collins as her even-tempered husband – that she starts to see danger everywhere.

12 Dec 2017 The Guardian

How to Disappear

By Morna Pearson. A Traverse Theatre review.

IMAGINE the dysfunctional world of Buried Child by Sam Shepard or Killer Joe by Tracy Letts, but for backwoods America substitute the farther reaches of north-east Scotland. This is the territory playwright Morna Pearson has claimed as her own. In plays such as The Artist Man and the Mother Woman, she has looked with grim humour on the socially excluded, observing the damage to vulnerable children caused by drug-addicted mothers, absent fathers and abusive adults. So it is in How to Disappear, where the school-age Isla has become the primary carer for her agoraphobic big brother Robert after the death of their mother and departure of their father. In an airless Elgin bedroom, realised rather too literally by Becky Minto’s boxed-in set, Isla finds refuge from her bullying classmates while Robert maintains a neurotic schedule centred on the broadcast times of Neighbours and the feeding schedule of his pet tarantulas.


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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