PollyFrameSOLARISPMihaelaBodlovic315 Sep 2019 The Guardian


By David Greig. A Royal Lyceum theatre review.

IF a sentient planet existed, it would be unfathomably hard to explain. How to put into words a consciousness so vast, ancient and alien? We d struggle to begin. It seems only right, then, that each time it is told, the story of Solaris shifts in shape. First, came the 1961 novel by StanisBaw Lem, coupling dense tracts of tech-speak with an unknown terror worthy of Edgar Allan Poe. Where the 1972 Tarkovsky movie was spare and reflective, the 2002 Soderbergh version was all about the wish-fulfilment romance between George Clooney, as a newly arrived spaceman, and Natascha McElhone, an apparition of his former wife.

AngusMillerasFerdinandandKirstyStuartasTheDuchessPhotocreditMihaelaBodlovic3 May 2019 The Guardian

The Duchess (of Malfi)

By Zinnie Harris after John Webster. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

THEY'RE a pathetic lot, the men who hang around this Duchess of Malfi. There's the narcissistic cardinal, the needy twin brother, the loveless spy and the nice-but-feeble husband. They all need a good talking-to. The downside, in playwright-director Zinnie Harris's bold reworking of the John Webster gore-fest, is you'd rather avoid the lot of them; their simple motivations and shallow emotional range some kind of poetic justice, perhaps, for so many centuries of underwritten female ciphers.

LRGyuriSarossyBonnieBaddooIsobelMcArthurDorianSimpsonPhotocreditMihaelaBodlovic3 Dec 2018 The Guardian

Wendy and Peter Pan

By Ella Hickson and JM Barrie. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

PETER Pan is as much a concept as a character. JM Barrie’s boy who would not grow up stands for lost youth and the passing of time but, set against those abstract ideas, his personality is vague – as elusive as his shadow. Living for the moment, he is on a self-absorbed mission to seek excitement but, as a character, he is not yet fully formed. Nor, by definition, does he ever change.In her superb adaptation of the book, first staged at the RSC in 2013, Ella Hickson suggests that behind the swashbuckling, the ticking crocodile and the kidnapping of Neverland, the real dramatic action lies not with Peter but with Wendy.

LRJoanneThomsonandJadeOguguaPhotocreditMihaelaBodlovic19 Sep 2018 The Guardian

Twelfth Night

By William Shakespeare. A Royal Lyceum/Bristol Old Vic theatre review

YOU get a sense of the playfulness of Wils Wilson’s trippy take on Shakespeare’s romcom when she introduces the twins. Viola is tall with an afro and an English accent. Sebastian is short, pale and Scottish. This is a comedy that depends on the interchangeability of lookalike siblings, washed up and separated on the shores of Illyria, so it’s doubly funny when they look totally different. They’re twins because they say so. Get over it.

AduraOnashileinCreditorsPhotocreditPeterDibdin2 May 2018 The Guardian


By August Strindberg and David Greig. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

If the men’s rights movement is looking for a spokesman, it could do worse than Gustav in August Strindberg’s three-hander, adapted in 2008 by David Greig and given a scintillating revival by Stewart Laing. He is the spurned lover who wheedles his way into his ex-wife’s new marriage while pushing a doctrine of male superiority and female deference. It’s not exactly that the arguments are persuasive (in the age of #MeToo, they raise the occasional laugh), but Stuart McQuarrie’s Gustav is slimily plausible. Looking like the playwright himself, complete with quiff and buttoned-up jacket, he remains cool and moderate as if to suggest his views about emasculation and the dangers of free-thinking women are the consequence of reasoning not vested interest. He is both creepy and charismatic.


19 Feb 2019 The Guardian

The Belle's Strategem

By Hannah Cowley and Tony Cownie. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

IMAGINE an inverted version of Cinderella, in which the heroine is not a passive figure of virtue but a young woman calling the shots. The ugly sisters are two wild women, sexually assertive and on her side. In the Prince Charming role is the familiar two-dimensional love object, except he has to be brought into line before he can claim his happy ending. It sounds like a piece of feminist revisionism for the #MeToo moment. In fact, it’s the central strand of Hannah Cowley’s comedy The Belle’s Stratagem from 1780. The play premiered 238 years ago and was one of the hits of Covent Garden repertoire for the next two decades. That Cowley is no longer a household name is a story in itself. Taking her cue from George Farquhar’s 1707 rural comedy The Beaux’ Stratagem, Cowley paints a picture of a self-regarding urban elite in an elaborate matrimonial dance. But, where Farquhar had the men running rings around the women in a catalogue of deceit and double-deceit, Cowley’s deceptions are all governed by the women.


26 Jan 2018 The Guardian

The Lover

By Fleur Darkin and Jemima Levick. A Royal Lyceum/Stellar Quines/Scottish Dance Theatre production

THERE'S a theme in Marguerite Duras’ semi-autobiographical novel about the objectifying gaze. Looking back at her 15-year-old self living in what was French Indochina, when she engaged in an illicit affair with a man 12 years her senior, the author sees a girl whose sexual desirability is in her very presence. “I’m used to people looking at me,” she writes, knowing her attractiveness is not in what she says or does, but in what others see in her. And it works two ways. Whether because of her age at the time or the passing decades since, Duras gives us the scantest details about the girl’s lover. He is Chinese and the son of a millionaire. He is prone to weeping and feels oppressed by his father. That’s about it. We don’t even learn his name. He is the love object. He asks her whether she is attracted to him only for his money; it isn’t quite her reason, but it’s as good as any

RehannaMacdonaldPhotocreditTommyGaKenWan3 Dec 2017 The Guardian

The Arabian Nights

By Suhayla El-Bushra. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

THESE days nobody from the US president down can distinguish between real and fake. So it makes sense that in tackling The Arabian Nights, that great story about stories, playwright Suhayla El-Bushra asks why it is that we tell tales. Her Scheherazade, played with dynamism by Rehanna MacDonald, is the daughter of a storyteller, a magnetic Neshla Caplan, who prefers stories that moralise to those that entertain. For Scheherazade, by contrast, the more fantastical the tale, the better. “There is a difference between a story and a lie,” her mother warns before launching into a cautionary tale about fibbing.


24 May 2017 The Guardian

Glory on Earth

By Linda McLean. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

WE'RE in the court of Mary, Queen of Scots and members of her young entourage are dancing to Tilted by Christine and the Queens. It’s cool, francophone and fun. In a week when almost a quarter of a million under-25-year-olds registered to vote in a single day, playwright Linda McLean focuses on a historical moment when the political agenda was set by those whose sensibility was young, European and outward-looking. In the French-raised Mary and her female retinue, she sees young people ready to replace the old masculine values of restraint and austerity with the feminine qualities of joy and collaboration. They stand in stark contrast to John Knox with his pulpit-thumping condemnation of anything that contradicts his Protestant worldview.


4 May 2017 The Guardian

Charlie Sonata

By Douglas Maxwell. A Royal Lyceum theatre review.

THE eponymous figure at the centre of Douglas Maxwell’s wayward theatrical odyssey is less a hero than a heroic drunk. He’s a man never happier than when giving advice about achieving the perfect alcoholic hit, a task he performs with the dedication of a shaman. Played by Sandy Grierson, legs apart as if he’s wet himself, stooped forward as if ready to wretch, he is vulnerable, perplexed and never sober. Yet he has the saintly quality of an innocent who sees only good in the world. Maxwell writes as if under the influence himself, his script a free-associative meander through a mind with a provisional grip on the line between past and present, truth and metaphor. Whether that mind is Charlie Sonata’s or Maxwell’s own is a moot point. Either way, it’s a style well suited to director Matthew Lenton who moves his excellent nine-strong company fluidly across Ana Inés Jabares-Pita’s open set of neon signs and inky black floor.


10 April 2017 The Guardian

A Number

By Caryl Churchill. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

CARYL Churchill’s two-hander zips along in an hour, so most evenings there’s a talk scheduled beforehand. Presented with the Edinburgh international science festival, each of these conversations picks up on the playwright’s theme about the meaning of identity in a hi-tech world. On the night I was there, it was social psychologist Aleks Krotoski and musician-cum-thinker Pat Kane considering the many faces we present to the real and online worlds.Can we define ourselves as the sum total of our Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds and Instagram selfies? Is any one version of ourselves more true than the others? Or is it that, with or without technology, our sense of self has always been fluid, circumstantial and provisional?


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.


15 February 2017 The Guardian

The Winter's Tale

By William Shakespeare. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

JOHN Michie’s Leontes has a bad case of confirmation bias. In his personal echo chamber, he hears only what he wants to hear. Sporting a clean-cut suit and golden tie, this avuncular figure sees himself as the reasonable type; used to having his own way, yes, but genial with it. So if he says his wife, Hermione, has been having it off with his best friend, Polixenes – well, he’s obviously in the right and everyone else must be deluded. It’s hard to know whether the feeble smile that crosses his lips whenever he is challenged is a sign of patronising indulgence or a mark of vulnerability. When he shoves his hands into his pockets and lollops casually about the stage, is he displaying smug self-confidence or concealing his doubts? The degree to which it is the latter makes the first-half tragedy and second-half reconciliation all the more moving.


15 January 2017 The Guardian

Picnic at Hanging Rock

By Tom Wright. A Royal Lyceum/Malthouse/Black Swan review

IT feels like an unresolved chord. Everything is on edge. Suspended. Pregnant. Five young women stand across a bare stage. Stock still, they narrate their story. All it takes is a single step forward and the tension escalates. The almost inaudible whispers and rattles of Ash Gibson Greig’s soundscape add to the creepiness. We know something’s afoot long before the pocket watches inexplicably stop at midday.But these pupils are not the familiar figures in virginal white from Peter Weir’s 1975 classic film. Rather, in Matthew Lutton’s gripping production for Australia’s Malthouse and Black Swan companies, they are modern-day private school girls in navy blue blazers, a touch more savvy and less erotically charged than their predecessors.


5 December 2016 The Guardian

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

By Anthony Neilson. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

IT was in this theatre 12 years ago that Anthony Neilson presented his landmark staging of The Wonderful World of Dissocia. An evocation of the highs and lows of bipolar disorder, it created a topsy-turvy world of imaginative possibility. Words took on new meanings, illogicality reigned and, somewhere just out of sight, disturbing events were taking place. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was an obvious point of reference for this colourful and eccentric fantasia and now things go full circle as Neilson returns to the Lyceum, directing his own adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s novel.


2 November 2016 The Guardian


By April De Angelis. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

SHE'S A woman who frets about gender bias in children’s toys, worries about the objectification of the female body and, in her student days, took day trips to the Greenham Common women’s peace camp. The problem for Hilary, now hitting 50, is no one seems interested in her old-school feminism. Not her best friend, Frances, who has taken up burlesque dancing, nor her daughter, Tilly, who is too preoccupied with sex to care about the sex war.


6 October 2016 The Guardian

The Suppliant Women

By Aeschylus and David Greig. A Royal Lyceum theatre review.

WHEN David Greig announced his inaugural season as artistic director of the Royal Lyceum, he said he wanted the theatre to be a “democratic space” where Edinburgh’s population could “gather and encounter each other”. It’s hard to imagine him achieving that aim more consummately than in this first in-house show of the season. And he does it with a 2,500-year-old play. Directed by Ramin Gray, in a co-production with the Actors Touring Company, The Suppliant Women begins with the house lights up and a phalanx of young women filling the stage. As per ancient custom, the performance can’t go ahead until respect has been paid to those who have made it possible. Step forward a civic dignitary – on my night, Deirdre Brock, MP for Edinburgh North and Leith – as libation giver, pouring a bottle of Dionysian wine across the front of Lizzie Clachan’s open breezeblock stage to let the show begin.


25 May 2016 The Guardian

Thon Man Molière

By Liz Lochhead. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

THE watery greys of Neil Murray’s set are a stark contrast to the lurid colour of his costumes – which is only fitting for the larger-than-life characters in Liz Lochhead’s tragicomedy about the scandalous life of Molière. Led by Jimmy Chisholm as the 17th-century playwright and Siobhan Redmond as his on-off lover Madeleine Béjart – two seasoned manipulators, the low-rent equivalent of Valmont and Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses – they are as singular, demonstrative and theatrical as their golden robes, red shoes and turquoise frocks would suggest.


26 April 2016 The Guardian

The Iliad

By Chris Hannan. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

THE great thing about the Greek gods is they’re more petty than people. Unlike the wise and benevolent figureheads of monotheistic tradition, this lot are whimsical, contrary and cantankerous. Redrawn by Chris Hannan in his taut and gripping dramatisation of Homer’s sprawling epic, they’re louche and decadent, while the mortals are fierce and driven. You wouldn’t want to rely on their mercy. Take Hera. Played by a radiant Emmanuella Cole, she’s a Machiavellian shape-shifter with a hatred of the Trojans and a grudge against her fellow immortals. If Cole weren’t so compelling, you’d think her small-minded and vindictive. As it is, you sympathise with a woman – god or not – who is propelled by forces beyond her control.


21 February 2016 The Guardian

The Crucible

By Arthur Miller. A Royal Lyceum review.

WHEN Ron Donachie takes the stage as Deputy Governor Danforth in the second half of Arthur Miller’s classic, it’s as if this 17th century parable of superstition and intolerance has a new centre of gravity. It’s partly that Donachie seems three times bigger than everyone else, a bullish figure, no less fearsome for his legal attire. It’s partly that his charismatic stillness commands attention and defies contradiction. But it’s also that, in presenting himself as reasonable, considerate and fair, he puts you in mind of every leader who gets his way by masking ruthless force with politeness. Insert name of most hated government minister here.


21 January 2016 The Guardian

The Weir

By Conor McPherson. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

THERE'S something unsatisfying about a certain type of ghost story. Like a card trick or a sparkler, it dazzles but leaves no impression; momentarily spooky, then gone. Playwright Conor McPherson fixes this problem. It would be easy to think of The Weir as just a series of chilling stories. You could dismiss it as a sophisticated variant on the old-fashioned tale told on a dark and stormy night


30 November 2015 The Guardian

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By Theresa Heskins. A Royal Lyceum theatre review

DO YOU remember that childhood sensation of pushing your face into an adult’s fur coat and being overwhelmed by its enormity? Or nuzzling into a grownup’s clothes rail and being lost and immersed? That’s the feeling evoked here when Claire-Marie Seddon, playing little Lucy, the wartime evacuee at large in the stately home of Professor Kirke, steps into an enormous teak wardrobe. As the sides give way to reveal the coats inside, unseen hands hold each garment aloft, giving the impression they have a life of their own. She has no choice but to push through. The wintry landscape she discovers on the other side could easily be her cocooned dream.


23 September 2015 The Guardian

Waiting for Godot

By Samuel Beckett. A Royal Lyceum review

SOMETHING fascinating happens when John Bett comes on as Pozzo in Samuel Beckett’s existentialist tragicomedy. Until this moment, it’s been Brian Cox and Bill Paterson standing alone in the brilliant-white tundra of Michael Taylor’s curving set. As Vladimir and Estragon, it’s their faces on the posters, them doing the interviews, and they have duly occupied the stage with a larger-than-life presence.


30 April 2015 The Guardian

The Venetian Twins

By Carlo Goldoni, adapted by Tony Cownie. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

WE'VEhad the final bow, the house lights are up, and a woman in the row behind me says, “I want to see that again.” It’s a sound suggestion. If you’re in the mood for a slice of prime-quality daftness, served exquisitely by a cast of 10, then Goldoni’s comedy of mistaken identity is surely worth watching on repeat. One of the many great things about Tony Cownie’s adaptation is that it knows how silly the whole setup is. One of the many great things about the same man’s direction is that it treats every preposterous turn with absolute seriousness.


30 March 2015 The Guardian

Hedda Gabler

By Henrik Ibsen. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

HEDDA Gabler is like a dark inversion of Peer Gynt. Where the folkloric Gynt goes on an epic journey of self-discovery driven by an irrepressible life force, everything in Ibsen’s later play contrives to deny life and obstruct self-realisation.This is a play without a future: newly wed Hedda says she doesn’t want children; her thwarted lover, Eilbert Loevborg, loses the manuscript for his certain bestseller (ironically on the subject of the future), which he refers to as his baby; even Hedda’s ambitious husband, George Tesman, is trapped in an infantile relationship with his aunt and stuck in the arcane past of his academic studies.


25 February 2015 The Guardian

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

By Bertolt Brecht. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

JUST WHEN it looked as if Dominic Hill, at Glasgow’s Citizens, had cornered the market for classic dramas on wide open stages, in steps the Lyceum’s Mark Thomson with a bare-walls Brechtian extravaganza that’s bold, punchy and vigorously theatrical. Not only is it ambitious, but it pulls off its attempt to fuse large-scale ensemble playing, all-hands-on-deck music and fluid staging with aplomb. It’s a tremendous show.


20 January 2015 The Guardian

Faith Healer

By Brian Friel. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

IT'S a bold move to put a play as intimate as Brian Friel’s modern classic on a big rep stage. You can almost hear the audience adjust when Sean O’Callaghan comes on alone as faith healer Francis Hardy and they realise it’s just him. But adjust they do and, against all the odds, the combination of the playwright’s rich storytelling, John Dove’s clear-sighted direction and three finely observed performances across a sequence of four monologues creates a compelling piece of theatre.


Guardian 27 October 2014


By Sue Glover. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

IMMEDIATELY in front of us, a woman is crouched down chopping turnips with a cleaver. In the middle of the stage, two others are knocking the earth off a crop of potatoes, while beyond them the lady of the house is chatting to one of the farmhands. And beyond them still, half hidden in the low winter mist, a figure is collecting sticks in a wicker basket. This sense of space distinguishes Lu Kemp’s painterly staging of Sue Glover’s play, an evocation of life on a 19th-century Borders farm. From the moment the cast appear in silhouette at the back of Jamie Vartan’s elemental set, Kemp treats the stage like it had the full dimensions of a field. Thanks to Simon Wilkinson’s superb lighting, those dimensions are always uncertain. As the colour temperature increases from cold monochrome to chilly sepia, the landscape is always bigger than those who tread on it.


Guardian 25 September 2014

Kill Johnny Glendenning

By DC Jackson. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

ONE of last year’s biggest Scottish theatre hits was David Harrower’s Ciara, a monologue about a woman born into a Glasgow crime family and doing all she can to get out. With Kill Johnny Glendenning, playwright DC Jackson is in similar territory, only this time he plays it as farce. Where Harrower gave us a subtle meditation on the difficulty of cultural change, Jackson offers a Tarantino-esque bloodbath of violent excess and a script of machine-gun hilarity.


Guardian 16 May 2014


By David Haig. A Royal Lyceum/Chcichester Festival Theatre review.

WE'RE watching an action-adventure yarn. At stake is the very foundation of western civilisation. Time is running out and only one man can save the world. Except the hero is not Jack Bauer, running through the streets of London in 24: Live Another Day, but a portly blue-collar worker scribbling down numbers at a desk. More unlikely still, he is a weatherman.


Guardian 26 March 2014


By Tim Barrow. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

WAS there a secret clause in the 1707 Act of Union? Did it state that every Scottish historical drama had to be set in a pub off Edinburgh's Royal Mile, populated by ne'er-do-wells, undercover nobles and a poet who would declaim Roman verse whenever the conversation flagged? Was there a further stipulation that no woman could appear unless she were a prostitute or a royal? If so, then playwright Tim Barrow follows the decree to the letter. But it's not over-familiarity that lets Union down so much as its lack of narrative interest.


Guardian 19 February 2014

Private Lives

By Noel Coward. A Royal Lyceum Theatre, review.

IT'S the climactic scene, in which Noël Coward's mismatched lovers are at loggerheads. On this morning after an embarrassing night before, they're doing their damnedest to remain civil. Or, at least, as civil as they can be when two of them are not speaking and the other two have been dumped on their honeymoons. In its blend of sexual confusion and social anxiety, it's the missing link between A Midsummer Night's Dream and Abigail's Party.


Guardian 22 January 2014

Long Day's Journey into Night

By Eugene O'Neill, a Royal Lyceum Theatre review

IT begins with a burst of summer sunlight spilling across the bleached wood, cotton fabrics and pastel shades of Janet Bird's airy set. The scene is indistinguishable from a million wholesome visions of all-American, middle-class life. Paul Shelley, as the patriarch James Tyrone, stands tall with his healthy head of hair and rugged matinee-idol looks, his desire undiminished for his wife, Mary (Diana Kent), also in cheery good humour.


Guardian 10 December 2013

A Christmas Carol

By Neil Duffield. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review

WITH its hardworking cast, outbreaks of yuletide song and lineup of larger-than-life characters, this staging of the Dickens classic is as rich as a plum pudding. With its drive to race through the story, enthusiasm for the author's poor-but-honest sentiments and its general eagerness to please, it can also be as sickly sweet.


The Guardian 29 September 2013

Dark Road

By Ian Rankin and Mark Thomson. A Royal Lyceum theatre review.

IT has been a while since the stage has had much truck with genre fiction. Not since the days of weekly rep, when Agatha Christie was reigning queen of the whodunit, has there been much space in the theatre for plot-driven mysteries and thrillers. Those forms have proved better suited to novel and screen. That's why the theatrical debut of Ian Rankin, with a play co-written by artistic director Mark Thomson, is at once familiar and strange; the genre is everywhere, but we rarely see it on stage.

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.


23 January 2013 The Guardian

A Taste of Honey

By Shelagh Delaney. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

THERE is much that is extraordinary about Shelagh Delaney's debut play: that it was written by an 18-year-old after watching something by Terence Rattigan and thinking she could do better; that instead of making an issue of single motherhood, interracial sex, teenage pregnancy and homosexuality, it presents them as part of life's tapestry; that, in its unsentimental representation of a working-class Salford experience, it became year zero for everything from Coronation Street to the Smiths.


3 December 2012 The Guardian


By Johnny McKnight. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

IT'S impressive enough that Johnny McKnight is writing, directing and starring in Aganeza Scrooge at Glasgow's Tron this season, but somehow he has also managed to field two Cinderellas. At the MacRobert in Stirling, there's an updated revival of his 2007 panto, while here in Edinburgh, he has turned in a musical version set – for reasons best known to himself – in modern-day Paris.


23 October 2012 The Guardian

A Midsummer Night's Dream

By William Shakespeare. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

TOWARDS the start of Shakespeare's comedy, the fairy queen Titania tells her lover Oberon how their quarrel has turned nature upside down. "The seasons alter," she says, and the "mazed world ... knows not which is which." Much later, as the play nears its conclusion, would-be husband Demetrius confesses that his love for Hermia is now "melted as the snow".


26 September 2012 The Guardian

The Guid Sisters

By Michel Tremblay. A Royal Lyceum/NTS review.

CANADIAN playwright Michel Tremblay's Les Belles Soeurs, translated here as The Guid Sisters, is one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, remarkable on many levels. Fifteen women are on stage, all cramming into the working-class Montreal kitchen of Germaine Lauzon, who has won a million Green Shield stamps in a competition – and needs help sticking them in to the books. Tremblay shows great skill in orchestrating such a number, keeping their characters distinct, their banter hilarious, and their private tragedies true.


27 March 2012 The Guardian

The Marriage of Figaro

Translated by DC Jackson. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

PLAYWRIGHT DC Jackson staked his claim to office romcom territory with My Romantic History, a gag-filled romp that exposed the passions simmering behind the filing cabinets of an everyday workplace. In this Marriage of Figaro, he proves there's more mileage still in using the conventions of the office to stifle the primal urges of his key characters. Relocating the Pierre Beaumarchais comedy to a post-banking-crisis world of high finance, he finds a match for the social decorum of old in the codes of behaviour of a modern corporation.


25 January 2012 The Guardian

The Infamous Brothers Davenport

By Peter Arnott. A Vox Motus/Royal LyceumTheatre review.

In the theatre is a stage. On the stage is a panelled room. In the panelled room is a wardrobe. In the wardrobe is a music box. Like Russian dolls, these boxes within boxes promise revelations, but provide only further layers of obfuscation. Just as the music box dulls the sound of domestic violence coming from a neighbouring room, so the bigger boxes divert us from the truth about life and death.


28 October 2011 The 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".


23 September 2011 The Guardian

Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off

By Liz Lochhead. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

WHAT sets Liz Lochhead's 1987 play apart is the way past and present rub up against each other, setting off sparks of recognition as text-book history clashes with modern-day topicality. You hear it in the language: "cauldron o' lye" one line, Princes Street the next. You see it in the dressing-up box costumes, the frocks as much 1950s prom as 16th-century regal. And you understand it in a story that makes the link between contemporary Scottish sectarianism and the power politics of the French Catholic Mary and the English Protestant Elizabeth, the virgin queen.


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.


13 April 2011 The Guardian

Educating Agnes

By Molière and Liz Lochhead. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

ON its debut three years ago, Liz Lochhead's reworking of Molire's L'Ecole des Femmes came across as cheeky, witty and linguistically playful. Theatre Babel's staging, by contrast, seemed laboured; you left the theatre suspecting the play was better than the production. And so it proves in Tony Cownie's vigorous revival, Lochhead's first mainstage outing since being appointed Scotland's makar, or national poet, earlier this year. Educating Agnes is, as we suspected, a daft, boisterous, big-hearted comedy that merrily weaves references to Kinsey and Cosmo on to Molire's 17th-century frame.

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.



26 February 2011 The Guardian

Age of Arousal

By Linda Griffiths. A Stellar Quines/Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

CANADIAN playwright Linda Griffiths doesn't so much adapt George Gissing's The Odd Women as explode it. She takes the genteel 1890s setting of this novel about a philanthropic women's secretarial college and gives it a vigorous modern voice. Like Janet Bird's costumes, which filter the stiff formality of the Victorian bustle through a 21st-century lens, she allows the passion to poke through the prim surface of respectability. The result, in Muriel Romanes's fluid production, is funny, dynamic and politically fascinating.


23 February 2011 Northings

Age of Arousal

By Linda Griffiths. A Stellar Quines/Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

THE standard view of the Victorians is they were all buttoned up. They lived in a world of social niceties where a woman could take offence at a man simply if he were a little too eager, and society could ostracise a woman just for stepping out with a male companion without a proper introduction. It is this kind of primness playwright Linda Griffiths has fun with in Age of Arousal. For although on the outside, her characters show the genteel restraint of their era, on the inside, they burst with a lusty passion that seems entirely 21st century.


18 January 2011 The Guardian

A View from the Bridge

By Arthur Miller. A Royal Lyceum Theatre reivew.

WHEN John Dove staged Death of a Salesman for the Royal Lyceum in 2004, it was the start of a five-play Arthur Miller odyssey that reaches its triumphant, soul-shaking end in A View from the Bridge. No one would call Dove a flashy director; no intrusive concepts or clever deconstructions for him. Instead, what he has shown– whether in the watertight tragedy of All My Sons or the novice experiment of The Man Who Had All the Luck – is a clear-headed gift for letting Miller's plays sing.


8 December 2010 The Guardian

The Snow Queen

BVy Stuart Paterson. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

THEATREGOERS in Scotland used to have a simple choice at this time of year. Either they went to a traditional pantomime or to one of Stuart Paterson's Christmas shows: big-hearted fables that preferred psychological realism to slapstick and narrative complexity to stock plots. About five years ago, for no obvious reason and despite their popularity, Paterson's plays all but disappeared.


2 November 2010 The Guardian

The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review

T'S not every day you get to see a new Oscar Wilde comedy. You will be familiar, of course, with The Importance of Being Earnest– handbags, epigrams and all – but not quite as it is seen here in Mark Thomson's polished production. I'm referring not only to the lines that seem as if they could have been written this week: when Jack Worthing says he is a Liberal Unionist and Lady Bracknell replies, "Oh, they count as Tories," it gets one of the biggest laughs of the evening. But more than that, I'm referring to Thomson's decision to return to the four-act versionof the play Wilde wrote before actor-manager George Alexander requested the three-act version we know today. Three months after the first night, Wilde was imprisoned for homosexuality and never revised his original. Thomson has done the job for him and merged the two versions.


21 April 2010 The Guardian

The Cherry Orchard

By Anton Chekhov, translated by John Byrne. A Royal Lyceum theatre review.

THE story of Margaret Thatcher's premiership is usually told in terms of a right-left struggle between establishment and workers. But as John Byrne sees it in this invigorating and very funny retelling of the Chekhov classic, it was also a conflict between old money and the self-made man.


24 March 2010 The Guardian

Every One

By Jo Clifford. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review

IN the past five years, the author of Every One has lost a wife to a brain tumour, undergone a heart operation, embraced Christianity and become a woman: John Clifford is now Jo Clifford. This upheaval has found expression in her writing, from a translation of Faust to the bereavement-based Leave to Remain. But it is in Every One, an astonishing response to the medieval Everyman, that she processes the trauma of death most profoundly.

23 February 2010 The Guardian

The Beauty Queen of Leenane

By Martin McDonagh. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

WHAT you notice about the audience for The Beauty Queen of Leenane is how vocal it is. No surprise that people laugh at the jokes, of course. Martin McDonagh's writing sparkles with deadpan irony as he tells the tale of Maureen Folan, a 40-year-old woman trapped by her cantankerous old mother, Mag, into a life of barren inertia. The dialogue is as funny as the situation is bleak.


19 January 2010 The Guardian

The Price

By Arthur Miller. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

FRED Goodwin, the poster boy for the banking crisis, has just landed a high-flying job with an Edinburgh architectural firm. Not everyone is as fortunate as the former RBS chief executive. Some, like the dead father whose memory hangs heavy over Arthur Miller's The Price, lost millions in the Wall Street crash and, in the face of the Great Depression, never recovered. The question Miller poses is how to respond to such a calamity: should we fight egotistically for our own success or should we retrench to the old values of love, trust and selflessness?


December 2009 The Guardian

Peter Pan

By JM Barrie. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

PETER Pan is the only play where the pre-show announcement about switching off watch alarms applies as much to the characters as it does the audience. One too many ticking clocks and the time-sensitive Captain Hook will be forced to leap overboard.

23 October 2009 The Guardian

Confessions of a Justified Sinner

Adapted by Mark Thomson. A Royal Lyceum Theatre review.

THE premise is worthy of Hollywood. A man believes that his place in heaven is secure, and that nothing – not even murder – will change that. Nearly 200 years before FlashForward, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner considered how our behaviour might be affected by knowing our own fate.

21 September 2009 The Guardian

The Beggar's Opera

By John Gay. A Vanishing Point/Royal Lyceum review.

YOU have a great idea. You imagine John Gay's 18th-century satire could be set in some cyberpunk future, where the highwayman Macheath is now a "super-thief" at large in a post-apocalyptic dystopia. It would be an oversexed society in which the outlaw's girlfriends, with their nostalgic obsession for early 21st-century designer gear, would be motivated by lust, while the older generation would care only for money. At the age of 121, Madonna would be the last surviving celebrity from the time of the global floods, and the world would have descended into dog-eat-dog violence.

27 April 2009 The Guardian


By Michael Frayn. Royal Lyceum theatre review.

FORGET the physics. The greatest experiment in Michael Frayn's three-hander is in the dramatic form itself. It isn't merely that Copenhagen chooses the most unlikely subject for a hit show – the meeting in 1941 between Danish physicist Niels Bohr and his German protégé Werner Heisenberg – nor is it merely that it treats this encounter less as fact than as a series of speculations to be played out and tested as if the stage itself were a laboratory.


24 March 2009 The Guardian

Curse of the Starving Class

By Sam Shepard. Royal Lyceum review.

THE fridge sits centre stage. In any other American play, it would be packed with produce, a domestic symbol of the land of plenty. But in Sam Shepard's alternative vision of the postwar boom years, the cupboard is bare. His family of hard-bitten misfits out in the "boonies" of California repeatedly open the fridge in the hope of finding it full. The best it brings forth is a bag of artichokes.

24 February 2009 The Guardian

The Mystery of Irma Vep

By Charles Ludlam. Royal Lyceum review

THE biggest mystery of Irma Vep is why such an ephemeral piece has been revived in the first place. The show's producers would have been bolstered, perhaps, by the oft-extended run of Charles Ludlam's horror send-up when it was staged in New York by the author's Ridiculous Theatre Company in 1984. They also must have been delighted to have found a showcase for the comic talents of Andy Gray and Steven McNicoll. But none of this explains how they summoned up the energy to read to the end of the script, let alone pool the resources of the Royal Lyceum and Perth Theatre to put it on.

20 January 2009 The Guardian

The Man who Had all the Luck

By Arthur Miller. Royal Lyceum review.

IT'S the Arthur Miller play that slipped through the net. Having lasted three days on Broadway in 1944, The Man Who Had All the Luck took nearly 50 years to cross the Atlantic and is even now a Miller rarity. There are reasons for its neglect. Some passages are underwritten, such as the oddly cool reaction to the death of the neighbourhood patriarch in a car accident, and the play as a whole never quite settles on the tragic trajectory it promises. Yet it is more than just a curiosity for Miller fans, much as they will appreciate the themes of aspiration, social responsibility and the American dream that would define his later work.

19 December 2008 The Guardian

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By CS Lewis. Royal Lyceum review.

THERE'S something of the Jennifer Saunders about Meg Fraser's White Witch. Her combination of haughtiness and vulnerability recalls the Absolutely Fabulous star at her most rattled. Arriving on a towering sledge, with her underworld menials slavering at her feet, she is formidable, yet not quite in control.Although this brings a comic edge to the antihero of CS Lewis's Narnia adventure, the overall effect is to make her more scary still: she's not just evil, she's erratic.

16 September 08 The Guardian


By William Shakespeare. Royal Lyceum review.

LIAM Brennan is alone on the stage when, as Macbeth, he first mentions the idea of "assassination". The very word catches him unawares; he breaks off mid-sentence, looks nervously around in case he has been overheard, then continues sotto voce. It is the key to an interpretation that shows the aspiring king of Scotland not as a merciless warlord, but as an introspective thinker with little appetite for bumping off his enemies.

23 April 2008 The Guardian

Trumpets and Raspberries

By Dario Fo. Royal Lyceum review.

DARIO Fo believes productions of his plays should move with the times. It is mo important that an audience today should understand the political point of Trumpets and Raspberries than that they should know the story behind it. We might not get our heads around the kidnapping of Italian politician Aldo Moro in 1978, but we can laugh, as we do here, at the idea of Sir Menzies Campbell suffering a similar fate while David Cameron sits in Downing Street.

17 March 2008 The Guardian

Vanity Fair

By Declan Donnellan and Thackeray. Royal Lyceum review.

THE wave of novel adaptations that hit the stage 25 years ago did not happen by accident. Like David Edgar with Nicholas Nickleby in 1980, Declan Donnellan in 1983 found something in Vanity Fair that rubbed up against the avaricious mood of the early Thatcher years. As well as the politics, he had aesthetic reasons. By turning to existing literary texts, companies such as Cheek By Jowl shifted the balance of power away from the playwright and towards the actor and director, reviving a style of theatre that made up in collective spirit and visual imagination what it lacked in a singular world view.

21 February 2008 The Guardian

Six Characters in Search of an Author

By Luigi Pirandello, translated David Harrower. Royal Lyceum review.

IT strikes us as being the most modern - indeed, postmodern - of plays, yet Six Characters in Search of an Author is also very much of its time. On the one hand, Luigi Pirandello came up with an idea that continues to feed into the culture in forms as diverse as Acorn Antiques and Being John Malkovich. On the other, the theatre world he turned inside-out in 1921 was one of leading ladies, proscenium arches and melodramatic pot-boilers.


15 January 2008 The Guardian

The Glass Menagerie

By Tennessee Williams. Royal Lyceum review.

IF Jessica Brettle had included just one broken window in her set, she would have symbolised the fracturing relationships of Tennessee Williams's family drama with some subtlety. But not only does the designer use half a dozen shattered panes, she sends lightning cracks across the walls and pulls bricks from the exterior of the St Louis apartment.

26 September 2007 The Guardian

The Winter's Tale

By William Shakespeare. Royal Lyceum review.

RECONCILIATION is this year's hot topic in the theatre. Raman Mundair, in her 7:84 show The Algebra of Freedom, takes a Muslim with fundamentalist sympathies and a policeman involved in a Jean Charles de Menezes-style killing and shows them squaring up to the guilt of their past. Recent plays have looked at the legacy of American slavery, South African apartheid and war in the Middle East, each time asking if forgiveness and a peaceful future are possible.

26 April 2007 The Guardian

Man of La Mancha

By Dale Wasserman/Mitch Leigh/Joe Darion. Royal Lyceum review.

THERE can be few more bleak moments in a musical than in the second act of Dale Wasserman's Man of La Mancha, when the battered and bruised Aldonza confronts Don Quixote with the reality of her life. Venomously singing about the "cruel bastards" who have beaten her up, she tells him it's an even crueller act for him to treat her as a lady: "I am no one, I'm nothing, I'm only Aldonza the whore."

21 March 2007 The Guardian


By Des Dillon. Royal Lyceum review.

YOU couldn't accuse Des Dillon of lack of ambition. Monks, a reworking of his novel The Big Q, tries to make sense of sectarianism, mental illness, compulsive behaviour, faith healing, miracles and absolution. All with a generous helping of dry, working-class humour, and set on top of a mountain in Italy.

22 February 2007 The Guardian

Mrs Warren's Profession

By George Bernard Shaw. Royal Lyceum review.

IT really is astonishing how much of George Bernard Shaw's century-old play remains pertinent. Take out the Victorian class structure and there's little in his argument about poverty, prostitution and the profit motive that would be out of place in a Guardian opinion piece today.

17 January 2007 The Guardian

All My Sons

By Arthur Miller. Royal Lyceum review.

THE cynics like to point out the weaknesses of Arthur Miller's 1947 tragedy. They talk about the gauche symbolism of the fallen tree planted for Larry, the son missing in action. They question the stagey way that Larry's old girlfriend Ann holds on to an incriminating letter until the final act. And they sneer at Miller's slavish debt to Ibsen.

15 December 2006 The Guardian


By Mark Thomson. Royal Lyceum review.

HI-DIDDLY-DEE, an actor's life for me. One minute you're playing the keyboard player in a Joy Division biopic, the next you are flopping around the stage as a boy-puppet. We'll have to wait until next year to see how James Anthony Pearson shapes up in Anton Corbijn's Control, but if he's half as good as he is as Pinocchio, it'll be a fine film indeed.

30 April 2006 Sunday Times

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

By Christopher Hampton. Royal Lyceum review.

LES Liaisons Dangereuses was the Lady Chatterley’s Lover of its day. Published in 1782, the novel by the French army general Pierre Choderlos de Laclos was the racy book everyone wanted to read — even as they were swift to condemn the morals of the two protagonists and their quest for easy sex.

12 March 2006 Variety

Faust I and II

By John Clifford (after Goethe). Royal Lyceum review.

THE Scottish capital's main rep theater is known for sturdy productions of the classics. It just did Moliere's "Tartuffe," with Christopher Hampton's "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" up next. In this context, it's all the more extraordinary to find such a demanding, expansive and ambitious staging of Goethe's notoriously unwieldy soul-selling, two-part poetic drama "Faust." This is helmer Mark Thomson's company operating at its inventive and imaginative best.

7 March 2006 The Guardian

Faust I and II

By John Clifford (after Goethe). Royal Lyceum review.

SIXTY years in the writing, Goethe's dramatic poem fills two volumes, features over 100 characters - including baboons, lemurs and a dog - and squares up to the great philosophical questions. It would be crazy to put it on stage. Which is why it's so exciting when someone does.

19 January 2006 The Guardian


By Liz Lochhead/Molière. Royal Lyceum review.

WE'RE in the 1920s and things are getting out of hand in Monsieur Orgon's Charles Rennie Mackintosh-style home. The gullible master of the house, played by an ebullient Steven McNicoll in silly plus-fours and sillier moustache, has been taken in by Tartuffe, the religious hypocrite and conman played by a sinister Kenneth Bryans, who takes the grimmest of pleasure in his deception. The family aren't happy.

26 April 2005 The Guardian

Laurel and Hardy

By Tom McGrath. Royal Lyceum review.

BETTER judgment tells you that Tom McGrath's 1976 play is just a load of old Stan and Ollie routines thrown together with some biographical scraps. It tells you that not even the most gifted impersonators could convey the elusive genius of cinema's greatest double act. And it tells you that comedy cannot survive the leap from screen to stage, let alone the 70-year gap between then and now.

21 February 2005 The Guardian

The Girl with Red Hair

By Sharman Macdonald. Royal Lyceum review.

IF you ever wondered what the opposite of in-yer-face theatre was, take a look at this new work by Sharman Macdonald. Even to call it a drama would give too racy an impression. "Elegy" would be a better word for this gentle, humane, rather lovely study of a community struggling to find life after the death of a teenager.


23 January 2005 Scotland on Sunday

Look Back in Anger

By John Osborne, starring David Tennant. Royal Lyceum review.

PART of me would like to write off Look Back in Anger as a historical blip. I’d like to argue that the iconic status of John Osborne’s play has less to do with its intrinsic merits than with what it came to symbolise for the "angry" young post-war generation. First performed at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1956, it seemed to end a chapter that was all about Noel Coward, Terence Rattigan, JB Priestley and polite, drawing-room drama, and to begin a new one featuring Harold Pinter, Arnold Wesker, John Arden and the gritty, kitchen-sink realists.

19 January 2005 The Guardian

Look Back in Anger

By John Osborne, starring David Tennant. Royal Lyceum review.

RECEIVED wisdom tells us that Look Back in Anger defined the mood of a generation in 1956. Hindsight suggests it was Waiting for Godot, first seen in English a year earlier, that was the truly radical drama of that decade. Both Osborne and Beckett were concerned with people who, in Jimmy Porter's words, "want to escape from the pain of being alive". But where Beckett's play has an abstract quality that allows it to talk to all generations, Look Back in Anger has trouble struggling free of the specifics of its era.

8 December 2004 The Guardian

Sleeping Beauty

By Stuart Paterson. Royal Lyceum review.

EVERYONE wants to get into Margarita's bed. First there's her pet bear who cuddles up like a giant teddy, then there's the ugly frog who hops intrusively into her dreams and, finally, there's Corin, the witch's boy-turned-prince who's a better match than she can realise.

25 October 2004 The Guardian


By William Shakespeare. Royal Lyceum review.

WHEN a seasoned gambler wins at the tables, not a flicker of pleasure crosses his face. His addiction turns the game into a joyless routine. He continues simply because he must continue. This is what Liam Brennan's Iago is like. In his plot to undermine Othello, the boss he professes to hate, he has luck on his side. The stakes are lethally high, but even when scoring jackpot after jackpot, he never cracks a smile. For him, the action has become more important than the motivation: he's doing it because he's doing it.

21 September 2004 The Guardian

A Madman Sings to the Moon

By Mark Thomson. Royal Lyceum review.

RETURNING to a play you adored five years ago is like meeting up with an old lover. Will you recognise each other? Will sparks still fly? Will new circumstances change everything? When Mark Thomson's hostage drama played at Musselburgh's Brunton Theatre in 1999, it was seen by so few people that my enthusiasm for it felt like a delusion. Now, revived at the Lyceum to open Thomson's second season as artistic director, A Madman Sings to the Moon proves to be so much more than a heat- of-the-moment thing.

25 April 2004 Scotland on Sunday

Uncle Varick

By John Byrne. Starring Brian Cox. Royal Lyceum review.

ANTON Chekhov’s reputation goes before him. His great turn-of-the-century dramas, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard, established an image of Russia as a nation of neurotic impotents with suicidal tendencies. So strong was this impression that by the 1930s, Russian drama had become popular shorthand for gloominess. "With love to lead the way/ I’ve found more clouds of grey/ than any Russian play could guarantee," wrote Ira Gershwin in ‘Not for Me’. Yet Chekhov, a man who started his career writing one-act farces, described The Seagull as "a comedy in four acts" and Uncle Vanya as nothing more ominous than "scenes from country life". At the very least, he’s a far richer playwright than the dour tag would imply. It would be wrong to think of him as some kind of misunderstood Ray Cooney, but equally wrong to regard him as a master of melancholy. He is a genius playwright and all life, happy and sad, is here.


16 March 2004 The Guardian

Six Black Candles

By Des Dillon. Royal Lyceum review.

SOME special chemistry happens when large casts of Scottish women take to the stage. We saw it when Michael Boyd directed Michel Tremblay's The Guid Sisters in 1989 and again when Ian Brown staged Sue Glover's Bondagers in 1991. And it's happening right now, to gloriously comic effect, in Mark Thomson's production of Des Dillon's Six Black Candles.

This is a sample caption