Guardian 24 April 2014

The Forbidden Experiment

By Michael John O'Neill and Rob Jones. An Enormous Yes/Arches review.

INCHKEITH is an island in the Firth of Forth, a short distance north of Edinburgh. For a small place, it's had a colourful history. According to the 16th-century historian Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, Scotland's King James IV used it to conduct an experiment into the origins of language by sending a mute woman and two infants to live there in isolation, hoping they would develop a pre-Tower of Babel speech. It was subsequently turned into a colony for sufferers of plague and syphilis, and in later years it was the site of undercover military operations.


7 December 2012 The Guardian

The Ugly Duckling

By Andy Manley and Shona Reppe. A Catherine Wheels/Arches review

IT'S not so much the spirit of Christmas birth as of Easter resurrection that possesses this Hans Christian Andersen adaptation by Catherine Wheels. It begins, delightfully, in a farmyard-cum-maternity unit where first pig, then horse, and finally mother hen are bringing their young into the world. Two piglets wobble out from beneath Gill Robertson's skirts, a floppy foal appears in Laurie Brown's field and, after much concentration, Veronica Leer fills an egg box with little white ovals. They're followed by another the size of a football – a misfit from the start.


10 October 2012 The Guardian


By Adrian Howells. An NTS/Arches/Govanhill Baths Community Trust review

EVEN a trip to the swimming baths is full of ritual. First comes the initiation ceremony of changing room, wire basket and wristband – just as it is here in Adrian Howells's literally immersive performance in the out-of-use Govanhill Baths, Glasgow. We prepare for this show just as we prepared for childhood visits to the local pool: clothes off, trunks on, towel at the ready.


24 April 2012 The Guardian

Thatcher's Children/Beats

By Gary Gardiner and Keiran Hurley. An Arches Theatre review.

FOR those of us who fought in the Thatcher wars, there's a worry the younger generation won't appreciate what was at stake. But if this inspirational double bill by the latest winners of the Arches' Platform 18 directors' award is any measure of the times, our political future is in safe hands.


20 May 2010 The Scotsman

Behaviour review

An Arches Behaviour festival review

IT'S SATURDAY afternoon and I bump into a friend in the bar of Glasgow's Arches. She's talking animatedly to another woman whom I assume to be a friend of hers. I should have known better. The two have only just met, but it has been in an extraordina ry circumstance. They have been part of the audience of Internal, a phenomenal production by the Belgian theatre company Ontroerend Goed.


5 February 2010 The Guardian

Birds and Other Things I Am Afraid Of

By Lynda Radley. A Poorboy/Arches Theatre review

A SITE-SPECIFIC show in a 19th-century church offers lots of tantalising possibilities: all those empty pews, echoing galleries and haunted corners. They are not, however, possibilities that concern Lynda Radley, whose one-woman show for Poorboy and the Arches takes place almost exclusively in a wooden shed constructed on the Lansdowne's altar.


13 December 2008 The Guardian

The Snow Queen

By Hans Christian Andersen. An Arches Theatre review

YOU don't need to scratch far beneath the icy surface of Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen to find an unsettling metaphor for the transition between childhood innocence and adult sexual knowledge. In the character of Kay, who is seduced into the dark realm of the Snow Queen after a shard of enchanted ice lodges in his eye, Andersen presents a boy on the brink of adolescence . . .

29 March 2008 The Guardian


By Tom Murphy. Arches Theatre review

WHEN we hear a shaggy-dog story, we exchange the irritation aroused by the meandering narrative for the delayed gratification of the punchline. It's the principle underlying Tom Murphy's Bailegangaire, a three-hander in which a woman attempts to tell the story of the "town without laughter" all the way through. Not only is the tale laden with the "details of every particular", told with the rococo flourishes of the seasoned storyteller, it is endlessly interrupted for arguments and naps.

26 January 2008 The Guardian


By Brian Friel. Arches Theatre review

BRIAN Friel could have made it easy for himself. He could have presented his vision of a 19th-century Ireland being subjugated to English colonial rule as a simple battle between honest locals and arrogant incomers. Even as it stands, Translations depends on our instinctive support for the little guy in the face of the insensitive invader. But, as a dramatist of considerable subtlety, Friel makes things more complex than that.

10 November 2007 The Guardian

They Make These Noises

By James Kelman. An Arches Theatre review.

BRIAN Ferguson plays a man at his wits' end. He has been turfed out of his bedsit by a tyrannical landlady and faces a rainy night on the street. "Maybe if I had, like, a hat," is his hopelessly optimistic assessment. It's a line that recalls Herbal Remedies, the first in the Arches' two-part season of undiscovered James Kelman plays. A Kelman character has so little that something as basic as a hat is a luxury.

19 October 2007 The Guardian

Herbal Remedies

By James Kelman. An Arches Theatre review.

JAMES Kelman is back on stage and not before time. Give or take the odd Fringe offering, the Booker prize-winner is best known in the theatre for Hardie and Baird, a wordy historical drama about two unsung Scottish radicals, which was staged by Edinburgh's Traverse as long ago as 1990. What a shame that a novelist with such an acute ear for the patterns of colloquial speech should have been absent from the theatre for so long. Happily, Andy Arnold's Arches company has discovered a backlog of unproduced plays and is staging a two-part mini-season, starting with this, an amusing park-bench comedy that makes up in west coast of Scotland patter what it lacks in dramatic weight.


9 March 2007 The Guardian


By Eugene O'Neill. An Arches Theatre review

NEIL Docherty doesn't have to do much in Eugene O'Neill's rarely seen 1958 two-hander, played like a piece of film noir in Andy Arnold's raw and tender production. As a night clerk in a rundown New York hotel, the actor merely has to fall asleep on his feet while interjecting the occasional grunt of agreement with Benny Young's loquacious guest, Erie Smith. But, although Hughie is almost a monologue, the night clerk's presence is crucial. Not only does he provide a justification for the other character to talk, he represents the emotional emptiness from which Smith is fleeing.

15 March 2006 The Guardian


Adapted by Andy Arnold. An Arches Theatre review

HOW odd to find, in a supposedly secular society, that hell is such a burning topic. In Edinburgh currently, Faust is trying on temptations for size in John Clifford's bold reworking of Goethe's soul-selling myth; in Glasgow, director Andy Arnold is taking the subterranean nature of the Arches at face value and leading his audience through Dante's seven circles of hell.

13 May 2005 The Guardian

I Confess

By 20 playwrights. An Arches Theatre review

PERHAPS the most extraordinary moment in this extraordinary show is the curtain call. The voices that have echoed round the corridors and cubby-holes of the Arches basement subside and a musical refrain goes out. Slowly from around the building, actors and audiences gather in the gloom. It feels like the scene in Close Encounters where the people assemble to greet the alien spaceship. Then everyone applauds each other.

2 March 2005 The Guardian

Beckett II: The Basement Tapes

by Samuel Beckett. An Arches Theatre review

WE walk along a shadowy corridor past a sign pointing to "Dressing rooms C + D". Through a door, we enter a gloomier passageway illuminated by little more than a series of small boxes on the wall, each containing yellowing artefacts from a bygone age. We pass a young woman operating some retro sci-fi equipment as a grinding industrial noise slowly starts to build. And, finally, we find ourselves gathering round a platform stage in a previously unused corner of the Arches' labyrinthine building.

18 February 2004 The Guardian


By Andy Arnold. An Arches Theatre review

"SO." It's the first word of Seamus Heaney's gutsy translation of the Dark Ages poem and it's the word that reverberates through the Arches in this promenade adaptation by Andy Arnold. "So," sing the large cast of students drafted in from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama when the performance begins, before leading us from a kind of Orwellian census office into a shadowy world of feudal kings and rampaging beasts.

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