Tag Archives: Review

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“Our Big Land” by Dan Allum

at Ovalhouse, Thursday 20th February 2014

The relationship the ‘British public’ has with the Romany Traveller population is often, to put it delicately, unfriendly. Thanks to our lack of education and a slew of derogatory TV shows, most of us have very little knowledge of this ancient and complex people. Jerusalem may have touched on the travelling community very slightly, but never really interrogated the issue. Though Our Big Land may sometimes feel a little basic, therefore, and doesn’t quite give the intricacies of the argument you’d hope, it manages to give a genuine sense of how Romany Travellers live in the twenty-first century and excels in its use of authentic music and aesthetic.

The narrative of Dan Allum’s play is fairly basic, and focusses on the family of Oceania, whose roots travel back a long way through Romany history. Continue reading

“Donal O’Kelly’s Brace – Skeffy”

at Hill Street Theatre, Wednesday 14th August 2013

*Originally written for A Younger Theatre*

I now properly “get” that word-of-mouth is the most important tool for selling a show in Edinburgh. Though Donal O’Kelly’s Brace – Skeffy was awarded a Fringe First last week and has been given four stars by the likes of The Scotsman, the audience when I saw the show was a little over a dozen. Why? Because, for all its critical accolades, it’s not that good. If it was, people would be telling their friends and it’d be filling up. As it stands, it’s a quasi-political piece about the Easter Rising of 1916 which has little in the way of argument and a self-conscious, awkward performance from O’Kelly.

It starts promisingly enough, with a beggar telling us how he was given a warning by a police officer for sitting by an ATM, Continue reading

“The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project”

at Northern Stage, St Stephens on Thursday 8th August 2013

*Originally written for A Younger Theatre*

I’m so glad The Bloody Great Border Ballad Project exists. With the independence referendum looming and the possibility of an independent Scotland and (perhaps) independent England at some point in the future, it is important that we think about national identities and what it means to be a member of either country. In creating this project, Lorne Campbell (Artistic Director of Northern Stage) has found a way of bringing people together in an attempt to understand who we are. It’s a mad, huge idea, and it makes for a great evening out.

Six artists (Cora Bissett, Daniel Bye, Lucy Ellinson, Kieran Hurley, Alex Kelly and Chris Thorpe) Continue reading

“Higgs” by Jaan van den Berg

at Summerhall, Wednesday 7th August 2013

*Originally written for A Younger Theatre*

Jan van den Berg’s Higgs is more of a personalised lecture than a piece of theatre, but that is not necessarily a negative thing. Taking us through the way in which his own love of particle physics – in particular neutrinos – grew, he explains his journey and the theories behind the Higgs and other such particles. It’s hardly groundbreaking performance lecture-ism, but for a popular science geek like me, it tickles certain intellectual quarters which have yet to be touched at the festival.

The opening section of the piece considers the divisibility of units, with our lecturer using an anthology of communities in both Papua New Guinea Continue reading

“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

at Shakespeare’s Globe, Friday 26th July 2013

I’ve never believed that the Globe space is one which supports tragedy well. I’m aware that, obviously, many early modern plays were written for spaces just like this one, but I find the epic size and shape of the space to be stifling during the more intimate and passionate moments of tragedy, whilst the psychology of some characters gets lost in the rafters. In her production of Macbethhowever, Eve Best (making her directorial début) picks up on this failing by finding humour wherever she can so that, though we lose a rather heavy dosage of the tragedy of the text, it becomes a snappy and enjoyable – if half-baked – black comedy.

Thinking about it, I reckon Macbeth is probably one of the hardest of Shakespeare’s plays to put on stage. Continue reading

“God of Carnage” by Yasmina Reza

At the back of the stage in York Drama Society’s production of God of Carnage is a chest, upon which sits a chic hourglass, full of red sand and slowly ticking away time throughout the course of the play. In Rory McGregor’s production, it demonstrates the inevitability of the final dénouement, but while the sand falls into the bottom chamber consistently, the performances on show feel far less subtle, managing to land a handful of jokes, but ultimately making the play into a cartoon rather than a satire on modern middle-class life.

Having now seen four productions of this play over the course of as many years, I can comfortably say that the comedy in Reza’s play does not benefit from multiple viewings. Continue reading