Review: Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling

Scottish Ballet’s production of Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling takes us to the urban back streets of Glasgow on the eve of a wedding. By ballet’s standards, the settings are gritty, although still a heavily sanitised, theatrically charming version of reality, that’s a far cry from actual tough and impoverished Scottish city life. James (Nicholas Shoesmith) and Effie (Roseanna Leney) are celebrating their upcoming nuptials in a rough and ready venue. Dance ensues: a mashup of contemporary, comic clubbing moves and a touch of the highland fling, an element reprised at the couple’s wedding reception the following day. Much is made of the comedy in this section, playing up the drunken behaviour of the revellers, achieving regular ripples of laughter from the audience along the way. It’s hard to emulate these kinds of goings on to a full orchestral soundscape, but here high brow meets low brow in a skilled and thoughtful way, under the careful direction and choreography of the master of ballet.

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Review: Locker Room Talk

Locker Room Talk is a very interesting piece of theatre. From a technical perspective, it’s good: well put together, well researched, well staged, well “scripted” and brilliantly acted. It’s an unusual concept in that the players are listening to real life conversations recorded by the inspired playwright Gary McNair, and voicing the parts as they hear them. It’s not spontaneous – they know which their bits are and it’s rehearsed and repeated nightly, but the effect of the listening and speaking makes for as close to spontaneity as any script is ever going to bring. What’s more, hearing those real voices seems to have a significant impact on the actors, who emulate the toxic lad banter they’re hearing uncannily well. It’s as if we are actually seeing and listening to these men, as we swiftly suspend our disbelief.

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Review: The Little Mermaid

Submerging into an aquatic world of mythical creatures is certainly the stuff of childhood dreams and here, The Northern Ballet brings an underwater journey theatrically to life. Don’t come expecting Disney – there’s no sign of Ariel or Ursula. Instead, this rendition is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s original version, so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in this bittersweet retelling of the age-old yarn that pulls on the heart strings.

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Review: The Weir

It’s hard to believe that Conor McPherson was just twenty-five when he wrote this modern classic. That was just over twenty years ago and the piece has continued to enthrall audiences ever since.

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Review: Miss Saigon

It’s hard to believe that Miss Saigon is nearly thirty years old. It exploded onto the West End stage during the peak of the musical theatre revolution. This new wave of large scale shows was ushered in chiefly by the work of Sir Cameron Mackintosh, producer, legendary impresario and man with the midas touch. The team responsible for lyrics, songwriting and production had already sparked an unexpected major hit with Les Miserables and moved on to this epic Madame Butterfly-esque fictional piece, set to the backdrop of war-torn and mid-revolutionary Vietnam.

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