ed83ba8af2o24 Oct 2019 The Guardian


By Frances Poet. A Citizens/Stellar Quines theatre review

IN 1898, factory inspector Lucy Deane Streatfeild highlighted the dangers of asbestos. Since then, every use of the substance has been in the knowledge it was toxic. Yet more than a century on, it still kills 5,000 workers a year. That makes a lot of people angry. It is this anger that elevates Frances Poet's witty four-hander from a standard-issue illness play to something more polemical. The playwright doesn't only rail against death, but against the injustice of a preventable, man-made disease.

CyranodeBergerac7 Sep 2018 The Guardian

Cyrano de Bergerac

By Edmond Rostand and Edwin Morgan. An NTS/Citizens/Royal Lyceum Theatre review

EDWIN Morgan’s 1992 translation of Edmond Rostand’s romantic drama is a work of tremendous vigour. Funny, playful and bold, it is written in a linguistically expansive Glaswegian Scots, as dazzling in its breadth of vocabulary as it is audacious in its rhyming scheme. Focusing on the large-nosed Cyrano, a poet and soldier in 17th-century France, it’s an ugly duckling story in which the hero’s swanlike inner beauty goes unnoticed until it’s too late. The play goes from swashbuckling to comic, from romantic to heartbreaking, as it suggests that only time can distinguish the superficial from the soulfulLongDaysJourney

19 April 2018 The Guardian

Long Day's Journey into Night

By Eugene O'Neill. A Citizens Theatre review.

THE Connecticut summer house of the Tyrone family in Eugene O’Neill’s autobiographical classic is usually realised as a solid architectural feature, bulky and permanent. Not so in Tom Piper’s design for Dominic Hill’s bruising revival, a co-production between Glasgow’s Citizens and Manchester’s Home. His set is a skeletal outline, just scaffolding, precipitous staircases and transparent walls. It looks provisional and unfinished – unattractive even – and it has an alarming effect.


28 Jan 2018 The Guardian

Bold Girls

By Rona Munro. A Citizens Theatre review.

ON the face of it, Bold Girls is not a violent play. In form, Rona Munro’s 1990 four-hander has the raucous girls-night-out shape of the kind of comedy perfected by Kay Mellor or Marie Jones. It looks as if it’s all about the bonds of female friendship as three working-class Belfast women, plus mysterious hanger on, go from front room to nightclub and back again, growing loose lipped as the drink kicks in. None of that would suggest the male menace of Pinter or the macho explosiveness of Mamet, still less the shadow-of-a-gunman gangster dramas of Northern Ireland’s Troubles era. Yet Bold Girls is absolutely about violence – male violence. Director Richard Baron reminds us as much from the start when a helicopter searchlight casts its roving beam across the audience, glaring into our eyes, before a dishevelled young woman is spotted in the haze of Stuart Jenkins’s severe side lighting. In this context, the living room of Lucianne McEvoy’s cool, calm and collected Marie is a refuge, a place of safety in a dangerous city.


29 Sep 2017 The Guardian

The Macbeths

By William Shakespeare/Frances Poet. A Citizens Theatre review

THE bed could have been designed by Tracey Emin. It’s all dishevelled sheets, fallen vodka bottles and scattered underwear. Sitting around it on plastic chairs in the Citizens’ tiny Circle Studio, we feel like intruders in the living quarters of the Macbeths, eavesdropping on Keith Fleming, the king that shalt be, just back from his encounter with the witches and eager to tell Charlene Boyd of the strange prophecy he’s heard. While the two of them canoodle and conspire, we lurk in the nocturnal shadows like voyeurs. Only as their reign of terror falls apart does lighting designer Stuart Jenkins turn on the strip lights to bleach the scene of its intimacy and expose their delusional actions. A domestic dream has become a political nightmare.


22 March 2017 The Guardian

Hay Fever

By Noel Coward. A Royal Lyceum/Citizens Theatre review.

NOEL Coward’s silly, subversive 1925 comedy is the missing link between William Shakespeare and Edward Albee. Set in a country house on a humid and tempestuous June weekend, Hay Fever takes four singletons, subjects them to a midsummer night’s dream of misplaced desire and warped romance and, once the spell wears off, sends them home to the rational world of the city. Nobody says “Methought I was enamoured of an ass” – but the sense remains. In the roles of Oberon and Titania are the hosts from hell, David and Judith Bliss (Benny Baxter-Young and Susan Wooldridge), a pair of free-thinking narcissists whose love-hate relationship not only anticipates that of Elyot and Amanda in Coward’s Private Lives but also acts as the model for George and Martha in Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? In league with their grown-up children, Simon and Sorel, they play a callous game of sexual one-upmanship using their hapless houseguests as disposable pawns.


19 September 2016 The Guardian


By Harry Gibson/Irvine Welsh. A Citizens Theatre review.

THEY used to call it “the Aids capital of Europe”. A crackdown on drug use in Edinburgh in the 1980s made it harder for users to acquire clean needles, so it soon became home to a generation of needle-sharing addicts. The HIV virus proliferated, in a city with a history of heroin abuse.Throw in a reaction against the loadsamoney capitalism of the Thatcher era and you understand something of the desperate undertow of Irvine Welsh’s landmark novel. The larky imagery of Danny Boyle’s 1996 film adaptation sticks in our heads – Ewan McGregor et al hot-footing it down Princes Street to the rhythms of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life – but Trainspotting is also a novel of serious social commentary.


26 May 2016 The Guardian

Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme

By Frank McGuinness. A Citizens Theatre review.

REVIVED to mark the centenary year of the battle of the Somme, Frank McGuinness’s play is a great act of theatrical generosity. Those who saw the first production in 1985 may have expected an author from republican County Donegal to have set a wartime drama among the Roman Catholics he’d grown up with. Instead, the troops who file into the makeshift barracks are sash-wearing Protestants from Belfast’s dockyards, Coleraine’s factories and the churches of Enniskillen. They prepare for battle in the trenches of the first world war with the same never-surrender defiance that characterises their historical defence of Ulster.


3 May 2016 The Guardian

This Restless House

By Zinnie Harris. A Citizens/National Theatre of Scotland review.

IT USUALLY feels like a handicap that the Greeks kept all the gory action off stage, but when you see the slaughter of George Anton’s Agamemnon in Zinnie Harris’s sinewy reworking of The Oresteia, you have some sympathy for their restraint. Fresh out of the bath, stark naked and lacerated from head to toe, Anton writhes and flounders around the stage at the mercy of Pauline Knowles’s knife-wielding Clytemnestra until she inflicts the fatal wound. It’s not a pretty sight. Nor does Harris intend it to be. She makes it plain that the stakes are high and this is a Clytemnestra who knows exactly what she wants.


28 April 2016 The Guardian

Dance of Death

By August Strindberg/Frances Poet. A Citizens Theatre review.

THE first part of August Strindberg’s 1900 play is a blueprint for some of the cornerstones of 20th-century drama. In trapping three characters on an isolated island, it is like Jean-Paul Sartre’s Huis Clos in which hell turns out to be other people. In its portrayal of a 25-year-old marriage of two imposing personalities who are addicted to each other’s bile, it foreshadows Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? And in its vision of a couple’s cruel interdependence, it sets the pace for much of the work of Samuel Beckett. All of which adds to the claustrophobic edge of Candice Edmunds’s tightly choreographed studio production, performed at close quarters on the driftwood floorboards of Graham McLaren’s set.


29 February 2016 The Guardian


By David Harrower. A Citizens Theatre review.

THIS revival of David Harrower’s mesmerising 2005 two-hander opened, by coincidence, in the week that Dame Janet Smith published her report into Jimmy Savile and the BBC. Our disgust at Savile’s abuse is certain, our condemnation absolute. What is alarming about Blackbird, which imagines a meeting between a convicted child abuser and his victim 15 years after the fact, is that it allows room for ambiguity. What’s not in doubt is that an abuse took place. Ray was 40, Una was 12. He acted unethically and broke the law. Morally and legally, their three-month relationship was wrong and reckless. Both were damaged, she more than him.


8 February 2016 The Guardian


By Samuel Beckett. A Citizens Theatre/Home Manchester review.

COULD IT have been intentional that Chris Gascoyne’s Clov so closely recalls one of the Gumbys from Monty Python? With his trousers at half mast, his filthy vest exposed and clenched fists thrust forwards, he has just the same air of the gone-to-seed middle-aged male. In Samuel Beckett’s apocalyptic nightmare, he is subject to a different order of surrealism. This is a play in which ordinary words become unfamiliar, routine actions become pained repetitions and the very act of living seems like the cruel joke of a godless world. With his hollow eyes, stooped gait and lolloping walk, this Clov is helpless, desperate and pitiful.


7 December 2015 The Guardian


By Annie Siddons. A Citizens Theatre review.

I ENJOY King Lear as much as the next critic, but I’m not sure the Gloucester-like blinding of Rapunzel’s handsome prince is quite right for the festive season. He loses his sight in the Grimm version, too, but that’s from an accident with a thorn bush, not from a brutal assault with scissors. In any case, the problem with Annie Siddons’ version of the story – first seen in a much-praised production by Kneehigh – is not the darkness itself, but the haphazard way it is handled.


1 November 2015 The Guardian

The Choir

By Paul Higgins and Ricky Ross. A Citizens Theatre review.

THE devil only has some of the best tunes. The rest he left to Paul Higgins and Ricky Ross for their big-hearted musical on the unfashionable theme of absolution, reconciliation and redemption. In these fractious times, a Christian allegory about class conflict, community and mutual understanding is as unexpected as it is warming. In the tradition of Once and Midsummer, the music emerges organically from the narrative. Only with the rousing clap-along gospel stomp of We Can Build It does Ross even get close to conventional West End musical territory. More typically, the Deacon Blue man’s Caledonian soul songs have a pop sensibility and a single-instrument nakedness. Gorgeously enhanced by David Higham’s vocal arrangements, they make the show seem very human.


21 May 2015 The Guardian

Into That Darkness

By Robert David MacDonald. A Citizens Theatre review.

IN 1970, after being convicted of the murder of 900,000 people, Franz Stangl agreed to a series of interviews by Gitta Sereny. The writer wanted to know how an ordinary Roman Catholic police officer drawn into the Nazi war machine could rationalise a crime of such magnitude. In this gripping adaptation of her book, the answer turns out to be distressingly mundane. Played by Cliff Burnett, hair slicked back, buttons fastened neurotically to the top, the commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp spends a dense and demanding two acts trying to explain his complicity.

28 April The Guardian

Fever Dream: Southside

By Douglas Maxwell. A Citizens Theatre review.

IT'S a surprise to be reminded of Katie Hopkins when watching a play by Douglas Maxwell. The playwright doesn’t mention cockroaches, but he does talk of monsters, and his expansive meditation on the strains of 21st-century city living contains all the self-interest, alienation and distrust you’d need to write the least humane of Sun editorials. Throw in an avaricious property developer, a schoolboy supremacist, a schizophrenic evangelist and a couple of sleep-deprived parents trying to hear the baby monitor over the clatter of police helicopters, and you have the recipe for a hallucinatory trip into a multicultural dystopia.


15 February 2015 The Guardian

The Slab Boys

By John Byrne. A Citizens Theatre review.

JUST AS Jesus was a carpenter, so Giotto was a slab boy and, in John Byrne’s workplace comedy, the extraordinary is forever about to burst free of the mundane. Set in the paint room of a 1950s Paisley carpet factory, where the lowest tier of workers go through the ritual of grinding powder and mixing gum on marble slabs for the unseen designers, The Slab Boys is a celebration of the adolescent urge to resist the crippling tedium of the adult world. These nonentities may be ugly ducklings today, the play suggests, but one day they’ll turn


8 December 2014 The Guardian

A Christmas Carol

By Neil Bartlett after Charles Dickens. A Citizens Theatre review.

YOU could mistake Cliff Burnett’s Scrooge for a genial fellow. He’s much given to chuckling and seems content with his place in the world. True, he resents his staff taking a day off for Christmas and delights in poking a carol singer in the eye, but his complaints are less the view of a misanthrope than the expression of a reasoned political philosophy. His laughter is more complacent than cruel. But in Dominic Hill’s gloriously spooky production, played out in monochrome on Rachael Canning’s set, Burnett’s air of satisfaction becomes less secure


Guardian 29 September 2014


By William Shakespeare. A Citizens Theatre review.

SOMEWHERE at the back of the open stage, Ben Onwukwe, as the ghost of the old king, stands in silhouette beneath a fierce white light, his voice compressed and crackly like an analogue broadcast. Nikola Kodjabashia’s live score, a cacophony of strummed piano wire, open strings and rumbling percussion, has risen to a formidable volume. At the point of greatest intensity, the focus cuts abruptly to Brian Ferguson’s Hamlet. Downstage, warmly lit, with a sea of darkness behind him, it’s as if he’s stepped into the room with us.

Guardian 8 May 2014

The Libertine

By Stephen Jeffreys. A Citizens Theatre review.

WHEN Jacob Huysmans painted John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, he pictured Wilmot in the company of a monkey. The 17th-century courtier and satirist looked suitably grand standing in his periwig, while the animal clutched a book and proffered a scrap of paper like a simian poet laureate. It was a challenge to everything a noble portrait was supposed to be, and even now it seems slyly subversive.

Guardian 9 February 2014

Miss Julie

By August Strindberg and Zinnie Harris. A Citizens Theatre review

IT'S the morning after the night before. Louise Brealey's Julie is one part elated, one part exposed. She's a titled lady who's had it off with an employee (in Zinnie Harris's salty translation, he is a servant, she a "servant's fuck"), and the thrill of the conquest is now doing battle with the terror of scandal.


The Guardian 5 November 2013

True West

By Sam Shepard. A Citizens Theatre review.

THE brightest thing on stage is Austin's sky-blue shirt. Seeming to glow beneath Tina McHugh's exquisite lighting, it looks like an accusation: however he behaves, this man has been singled out as an embarrassing figure of Ivy League privilege. Stalked by his dissolute brother Lee, he is buttoned up and prim, a bourgeois prig cut off from his animal side.


The Guardian 8 September 2013

Crime and Punishment

Adapted by Chris Hannan. A Citizens/Liverpool Playhouse/Royal Lyceum review

DOSTOYEVSKY'S great philosophical novel is like Shakespeare's Hamlet in reverse. Early in the story, the fatal deed is done; the procrastination, self-analysis and madness follows thereafter. There's little rationale in the double murder by Raskolnikov, the student drop-out, and it takes the bulk of the story for him to come to terms with it.

19 February 2013 The Guardian

Takin' Over the Asylum

By Donna Franceschild. A Citizens/Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

WE'RE in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest territory – but instead of Jack Nicholson finding method in the madness, here we have Eddie, a hospital radio DJ, discovering the insanity of the psychiatric system. Donna Franceschild's bittersweet comedy, based on her own 1994 TV series, stands as a metaphor for authoritarian oppression. When the self-styled Ready Eddie: the Soul Survivor starts playing his treasured collection of Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke originals at St Jude's psychiatric hospital, he realises the main obstacle in his path is not anyone's bipolar disorder, OCD or schizophrenia, but the psychopathic control of the institution.


22 January 2013 The Guardian

The Maids

By Jean Genet. A Citizens Theatre review

THE class war isn't over yet. Just ask the House of Commons catering staff whom MP Christopher Chope referred to as "servants" last week. Let's hope they don't react like the sisters in Jean Genet's The Maids, so damaged by the social pecking order that they spend half their time plotting to murder their mistress, and the other half indulging in cruel master-servant role playing fantasies.


12 December 2012 The Guardian

Sleeping Beauty

By Rufus Norris. A Citizens Theatre review.

AS pantos across the land ramp up the contrast, volume and colour, the Christmas show at the Citz is refreshingly austere. Against a backdrop of naked winter trees, this Sleeping Beauty plays out in a nightmarish, monochrome landscape, the half-light alleviated by no more than a flash of gold or a blood-red dress.


7 November 2012 The Guardian

Glasgow Girls

By David Greig. A Citizens/NTS/Theatre Royal Stratford East review.

AS the librettist for the forthcoming musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, David Greig knows all about the demands of a traditional West End show. By contrast, Glasgow Girls, the playwright's current song-and-dance outing, refuses to play by conventional musical rules.


3 October 2012 The Guardian


By Euripides/Mike Bartlett. A Citizens/Headlong/Watford Palace review.

SHE enters in socks, tracksuit bottoms and faded grey T-shirt. Her blood-red hair is a shade away from the glossy surfaces of her fitted kitchen. Her son has just been dropped off by one of the neighbours. None of this fits the archetypal image of Medea, which is what makes Mike Bartlett's version of the Euripides classic initially so arresting. Behind the photorealist facade of Ruari Murchison's suburban set, we find not a spurned wife in Corinth, but a single mum living in a new-build residential street just beyond the London commuter belt.

5 June 2012 The Guardian

Krapp's last Tape/Footfalls

By Samuelk Beckett. A Citizens Theatre review

SINCE the rise of the black-box studio in the 1960s and 70s, the place for Beckett's shorter plays has generally been in small rooms before select audiences. It's fascinating, therefore, to see the 40-minute Krapp's Last Tape and the 20-minute Footfalls boldly back on the main stage as the final instalment of Dominic Hill's inaugural season as Citz artistic director.


27 April 2012 The Guardian

King Lear

By William Shakespeare. A Citizens Theatre review.

THERE'S a sense of impermanence about Dominic Hill's austere King Lear. The very tables and chairs seen temporary, forever being overturned and whisked away, as if in response to Lear's unstable plan to split his kingdom three ways. Tom Piper's stark set of planks and windows dissolves at the edges, giving way to a netherworld populated by a brooding underclass and the hulks of old pianos that echo ominously.


13 March 2012 The Guardian


By Harold Pinter. A Citizens Theatre review.

THE greatest challenge in staging Betrayal – written by Harold Pinter in response to his seven-year affair with Joan Bakewell – is to make it seem more than a study of narrow bourgeois concerns. Had it been written in the age of Twitter, this portrait of a relationship between a woman and her husband's best friend would come with the hashtag #firstworldproblems.


11 December 2011 The Guardian

Hansel and Gretel

By Alan McHugh. A Citizens Theatre review.

IN his Christmas shows for the Citz, playwright Alan McHugh has shown a particular fascination for the character the author Christopher Booker identifies as the "dark mother". The stepmother in his Cinderella verged on the psychotic, while the creature in his Beauty and the Beast was haunted by the witch who had transformed him. Those plays tapped into the deep archetypal forces of the originals and were rich and troubling. In taking a similar approach to Hansel and Gretel, by contrast, McHugh throws the story off kilter.


25 October 2011 The Guardian

A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

By Peter Nichols. A Citizens Theatre review.

IN 1967, an unknown playwright called Peter Nichols sent a script on spec to the Citizens theatre. Remarkable not only for its subject matter but also for its tone, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg was a comedy about a couple caring for a physically disabled 10-year-old girl. After its premiere in Glasgow, it went on to be a West End hit, gallows humour and all.


25 May 2011 The Guardian

After the End

By Dennis Kelly. A Citizens Theatre review.

AFTER his recent arrest, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was described as a man who had "a difficulty in controlling his impulses". Whatever the outcome of this particular court case, it is a story that gives Dennis Kelly's After the End an unsettling topicality.

2 March 2011 The Guardian


by Sue Glover. A Citizens Theatre/Royal Lyceum Theatre review

"PEROXIDE – that's all it is," says a long-suffering hairdresser working for Marilyn Monroe as she takes up residence in the Beverly Hills Hotel while shooting Let's Make Love. In an adjoining room, her husband, Arthur Miller, is typing out the screenplay for The Misfits; over the corridor, that other big-screen blonde, Simone Signoret, is accompanying her husband, and Monroe's co-star, Yves Montand.

16 December 2010 The Guardian

Beauty and the Beast

By Alan McHugh. A Citizens Theatre review.

ACTOR Alan McHugh has been developing a sideline as the writer of a strand of psychologically disturbing Christmas shows at Glasgow's Citz. Where last year's Cinderella was a dark tale about absent mothers, this year's Beauty and the Beast is a rich metaphor about acquiring self-knowledge and taking a leap into the sexual unknown.

21 October 2010 The Guardian

A Clockwork Orange

By Anothony Burgess. A Citizens Theatre review.

IN his swansong production as artistic director of the Citz, Jeremy Raison goes to some efforts to give Anthony Burgess's tale a modern-day spin. He stages it on Jason Southgate's set, a striking concrete and aluminium structure that suggests the most soulless 21st-century car parks, apartments and wine bars. As if to comment on the state of our nations, he casts actors from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin and Glasgow. And, at the height of Alex's Pavlovian brainwashing, the doctor's litany of state-sanctioned violence includes a reference to Guantánamo.

24 May 2010 The Guardian

One Million Tiny Plays About Britain

By Craig Taylor. A Citizens Theatre review.

ROS Philips brings Tardis-like powers to her inspired staging of Craig Taylor's miniature dramas, originally serialised in the Guardian and now brought vividly to life as the plays they always aspired to be. The warping of the space-time continuum is partly in Jason Southgate's design, which makes resourceful use of the small upstairs studio, transforming the space ingeniously from a city park to a commuter train, from an estate agent to a kebab shop, from a prayer room to a hospital.

9 March 2010 The Guardian

My Name is Rachel Corrie

By Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner. A Citizens Theatre review.

THIS week, the parents of Rachel Corrie bring a civil suit against the Israeli defence ministry over the cause of their daughter's death. The 23-year-old campaigner was crushed by a bulldozer in Rafah as she stood in peaceful defence of Palestinian homes in 2003. Her parents hope to put on the public record that the killing was intentional.


16 February 2010 The Guardian


By Iain Softley. A Citizens Theatre review.

THEATRE is ill-equipped to represent other art forms. It can cope with portraying a brilliant painter, but struggles to show off a brilliant painting. It can convince us that a play's characters are in a top pop group, but risks shattering the illusion the moment they start strumming their guitars. That is why it is bold for writer and director Iain Softley to bring his 1994 movie to the stage.

10 December 2009 The Guardian


By Alan McHugh. A Citizens Theatre reivew.

MOST archetypal stories keep their psychological significance buried beneath the surface. Not so this Cinderella. As playwright Alan McHugh has it, this is a tale about the need for a good mother. And to underline the point, the mother shows up from beyond the grave.

28 October 2009 The Guardian


By Suzan Lori Parks. A Citizens Theatre review.

ONE brother is called Lincoln, the other Booth, products of an errant father with a mischievous sense of humour. Their names should give a clue to how Suzan-Lori Parks's two-hander turns out, not least because Lincoln has a job in an American amusement arcade for which he must dress up as the president on the day of his 1865 assassination, while unemployed younger brother Booth stays at home with a handgun for protection.


19 May 2009 The Guardian


By Henrik Ibsen. Citizens' Theatre review.

"ALL of us are haunted by dead ideas and dead opinions," says the matriarchal Mrs Alving in Ibsen's drama about new ways of living and old skeletons in the closet. Ironically, 130 years down the line, it is the dead ideas of Ibsen that haunt today's stage. No modern playwright would be able to get away with an opening act in which Pastor Manders tells Alving not to take out insurance on her new orphanage, followed by a closing act in which the orphanage burns down. The mechanics are just too obvious.

24 January 2009 The Guardian

Sub Rosa

By David Leddy. Citizens' Theatre review.

WAS ever a penny dreadful as lurid as David Leddy's Sub Rosa? A site-specific journey into the bowels of a theatre built in 1878, it is as if a rococo Victorian melodrama has been laced with the ugly authenticity of the in-your-face playwrights of the 1990s. By offsetting a story laden with murder, sexual exploitation and back-street abortions with a romantic promenade through wardrobes and scenery stores, Leddy creates a show that is as ravishing as it is unpleasant.

29 October 2008 The Guardian

The Caretaker

By Harold Pinter. Citizens' Theatre review.

A few months ago, the talk was all about white, working-class males feeling alienated in a multicultural society. Whatever the merits of that analysis, Harold Pinter was on the case first, nearly 50 years ago. In Davies, a tramp who suffers the double-edged hospitality of two brothers, the playwright offers us a character whose fortunes are never so low that he can't take a pop at the neighbourhood "blacks". This derelict, who scarcely has a pair of shoes to call his own, has too much pride ever to think himself on the bottom of the ladder..

23 September 08 The Guardian

Don Juan

By Goldoni/McDonald/Raison. Citizens' Theatre review.

IT worked for John Simm in Life on Mars, so why not for Mark Springer in Don Juan? Like DCI Sam Tyler in the TV series, John D is a modern-day man who, thanks to some jiggery-pokery in the space-time continuum, finds himself in a bygone era. The production doesn't make clear whether he is a Max Clifford-style media manipulator or a pop celebrity, but by the time he wakes up in the 1730s, it's plain he is a real Don Juan.

28 May 2008 The Guardian

The Sound of My Voice

Adapted from the novel by Ron Butlin. Citizens' Theatre review.

EMERGING a few years after Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City and predating TV's Mad Men, Ron Butlin's short novel is part of a subgenre of alcohol-fuelled, midlife crises in the workplace stories. But where the US equivalents are set in the glamorous worlds of magazines and advertising agencies, Butlin's debut revolves around a biscuit factory. In Jeremy Raison's good-looking studio adaptation, Morris Magellan is a family man and successful company executive, skilled enough at his inane job to disguise his dependency on brandy. Played by a dextrous Billy Mack, squirming in his suit like an inebriated Lee Evans, he is all charm and charisma, despite the self-loathing. It is a fine, fluid performance that manages to make a repellent character endlessly watchable.

19 February 2008 The Guardian

Waiting for Godot

By Samuel Beckett. Citizens' Theatre review.

IT is a particularly British pair of tramps who pace the stage in Guy Hollands' production of the Beckett perennial. In their bowler hats and overcoats, Gerry Mulgrew and Kevin McMonagle are genial old boys, polite and stoic in the face of the existential void that lies but a music-hall routine away. They get irritated, of course, but they are governed by make-do-and-mend values and reasonableness. When Mulgrew's Vladimir tells McMonagle's Estragon, "You're a hard man to get on with," he gets one of the bigger laughs of a chucklesome evening, as much as anything because he is doing his level best to get on in such impossible circumstances.

25 September 2009 The Guardian


By William Shakespeare. Citizens' Theatre review.

WHEN John Kazek's Claudius first takes his leave of Hamlet, played by Andrew Clark, he gives him a long, lingering kiss on the lips. Fletcher Mathers as Gertrude follows suit in a gesture less of misplaced Oedipal desire than of arrogant sexual control.


6 May 2007 Scotland on Sunday

Angels in America

By Tony Kushner. Citizens' Theatre review.

IF you want a masterclass in acting and stagecraft, not to mention the joy of a thrillingly ambitious piece of writing, clear your diary for Angels In America. There's no question Tony Kushner's "gay fantasia on national themes" puts demands on your time - it comes in two parts, both over three and a half hours - yet Daniel Kramer's brilliant staging with a flawless cast of eight compels you to savour every minute.

15 February 2007 The Guardian

The Bevellers

By Roddy McMillan. Citizens' Theatre review.



13 November 2006 The List

The Shadow of a Gunman

By Sean O'Casey. Citizens' Theatre review.

THE temptation with Sean O’Casey’s celebrated Dublin trilogy, which began with The Shadow of a Gunman (1923) and continued with Juno and the Paycock (1924) and The Plough and the Stars (1926), is to present them as knock-about Oirish comedies full of loveable old rogues and working-class chancers. That they have their funny side is not open to question - O’Casey had a fantastic ear for language and a keen eye for a larger-than-life character - but he was also a fiercely political animal and to overplay the comedy is to diminish his serious purpose.

8 November 2006 The Guardian

The Shadow of a Gunman

By Sean O'Casey. Citizens' Theatre review.

TIME and space are the distinguishing qualities of Philip Breen's staging of the Sean O'Casey classic. He takes two diversions from the traditional presentation of the Dublin tenement tragedy; both are risky, and both pay off. The first is to play the two-act drama without an interval; the second is to break the mood of naturalism with a set without walls, the furniture of Seumas Shields' rented room fronting an open stage.


7 November 2006 The Guardian

Tom Fool

By Franz Xaver Kroetz. Citizens' Theatre review.

IMAGINE an Arthur Miller hero brought so low that he didn't even have the American dream to hang on to. That's what Otto Meier is like in Franz Xaver Kroetz's bleak 1978 three-hander, Mensch Meier, performed here for the first time as Tom Fool in a translation by Estella Schmid and Anthony Vivis.

21 February 2006 The Guardian

Blood Wedding

By Lorca. Citizens' Theatre review.

IT was a clever move for director Jeremy Raison to team Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with Lorca's Blood Wedding in this mini-rep season. It isn't only that both are tales of young lovers compelled by social circumstance to meet a bloody end, it's also that we get to watch the same actors trying out similar but different roles. One night you can see Iain Robertson and Lorna Craig killing themselves for love in a Glasgow mortuary in Gregory Thompson's relocated Shakespeare, the next you can see them doing much the same in a scorching Spain.


14 February 2006 The Guardian

Romeo and Juliet

By William Shakespeare. Citizens' Theatre review.

WHEN Jimmy Chisholm, as a Capulet, breaks into a karaoke version of George McCrae's Rock Your Baby at a back-yard barbecue, you start to wonder if director Gregory Thompson hasn't taken things too far. The blasts of 1970s disco, the flashing lights, the wall of colourful graffiti that dominates Giuseppe Di Iorio's set ... how desperate can you be to show the kids that Shakespeare's, like, really cool?

6 November 2006 The Guardian

Molly Sweeney

By Brian Friel. Citizens' Theatre review.

JM Synge's play The Well of the Saints is about two blind beggars who have their sight restored by a miracle worker. They don't much care for what they see and insist on being returned to blindness. Brian Friel takes a similar idea in his 1994 play Molly Sweeney, except that in place of Synge's robust comedy, he creates a sad psychological realism. Without sight for all her 40-odd years, his title character is traumatised to the point of insanity when an operation gives her some limited vision.

29 October 2005 The Guardian

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

By Lee Pockriss, Hal Hackady and Henry Farrell. Citizens' Theatre review.

IN many ways it is a perfect fit. Take a film that's become a camp classic thanks to the diva performances of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, sprinkle it with songs to add to the flamboyance, and stage it with old-style poise and pizzazz. It's hard to think of a more celebratory way to herald the arrival of Glasgay, the city's festival of queer culture.

19 April 2005 The Guardian

Mystery of the Rose Bouquet

By Manuel Puig. Citizens' Theatre review.

"WOMEN are all liars," yells Anne Myatt in the second half of Manuel Puig's strange, intense two-hander. It's a questionable sentiment, but one that makes most sense of the master-servant relationship that develops between Myatt's elderly patient and Julie Austin's private nurse. The contradictory evidence that we gather from barbiturate-fuelled dream sequences and rose-tinted flashbacks makes it impossible to trust anything either woman says.

16 March 2005 The Guardian

A Handful of Dust

By Mike Alfreds/Eveyln Waugh. Citizens' Theatre review.

SAY what you like about artistic director Jeremy Raison but he's made a seamless transition from the regime of Giles Havergal, Philip Prowse and Robert David MacDonald that ended in 2003 after 33 years. His staging of Waugh's comedy recalls nothing so much as Havergal's adaptation of Graham Greene's Travels With My Aunt.

8 February 2005 The Guardian

Camping, Cleo, Emmanuelle and Dick

By Terry Johnson. Citizens' Theatre review.

LIKE his 1994 hit, Dead Funny, Terry Johnson's Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick marks the passing of a cheap-and-cheerful era of British comedy. Where the earlier play celebrated Benny Hill and Frankie Howerd, this one is a tribute to the seaside humour of the Carry On franchise.

1 December 2004 The Guardian

The Borrowers

By Lynn Robertson Hay. Citizens' Theatre review.

ONE of the funniest running jokes in Little Britain features David Walliams as a diminutive Dennis Waterman seeking work from his agent. He's so small that everyday objects, such as chairs, doughnuts and telephones, constantly threaten to smother him. It's a surreal touch that adds an edge of wonderment to the sketches.

26 October 2004 The Guardian

A Whistle in the Dark

By Tom Murphy. Citizens' Theatre review.

WE'RE used to seeing credits for set and lighting designers in theatre programmes, but how often does someone get a mention for the violence? Denis Agnew - for it is he - brings a very credible level of violence to Roxana Silbert's production of A Whistle in the Dark. It is the debut work by Tom Murphy, in which a family of five Irish brothers bring their vicious and ultimately self-destructive values to bear on early-1960s Coventry.

28 September 2004 The Guardian

Vernon God Little

By Andrea Hart. Citizens' Theatre review.

IT'S got the necessary flamboyance, sexiness and satirical intent, but something doesn't quite hit home in this first adaptation of the Man Booker prize-winning novel by DBC Pierre. That something is to do with the curious position that Vernon Gregory Little occupies in the book. On one hand, the 15-year-old boy - accused of complicity in a Columbine-style high school massacre - is the source of the novel's rage against the self-interestedness of small-town Texas. On the other, Vernon is an unreliable narrator; we can never be sure of his motives or his methods.


23 September 2004 The Guardian

The Lady Aoi/La Musica

Yukio Mishima/Marguerite Duras. Citizens' Theatre review.

KENNY Miller's mini-repertory season, A Little Bit of Ruff, comes with a note of apology. He's put together five plays in as many weeks, using the same six actors, four of whom are stepping out as directors for the first time. Taking turns with this double bill is a pairing of The Ruffian on the Stair and 4.48 Psychosis, as well as the stage premiere of Vernon God Little. The hectic schedule means we should expect the rough and ready, not the polished.

22 September 2004 The Guardian

Thésèse Raquin

By Jeremy Raison. Citizens' Theatre review.

EMILE Zola's novel comes in three flavours. The first is boredom: the stultifying repression of the young Thérèse by her feeble husband Camille and his domineering mother. The second is passion: the primal sexual forces released when Thérèse and the brutish Laurent embark on an illicit affair. The third is guilt: the paralysing remorse suffered by the lovers after their drowning of Camille.

10 February 2004 The Guardian

Nightingale and Chase

By Zinnie Harris. Citizens' Theatre review.

SHOPLIFTERS, wife-beaters, playground bullies - they're bad people, right? But look a little closer and the reality is rarely so simple. Behind any criminal act is a complex mess of desires, relationships and actions, few of them bad in themselves. Thus it is in Nightingale and Chase, a modest two-hander about a couple careering towards trouble in spite of their best intentions. The outwardly respectable Nightingale turns out to be free with his fists, and his younger wife, Chase, has aserious shoplifting habit.

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