Review: The Lover Rating 54%

Review: The Lover

Marguerite Duras’s autobiographical novel The Lover, published in 1984, is about an unnamed teenage girl who embarks on a relationship with a man twelve years her senior in 1930s Vietnam. From one angle, it’s about finding beautiful things in places you don’t expect them. From another, it’s about the dynamic between two very different people, and how it might be different from what you might anticipate. If you believe David Grieg in his programme note, The Lover might have one or two things to tell you about love.

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Review: Miss Saigon Rating 91%

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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Review: The Tin Soldier Rating 89%

Review: The Tin Soldier

The first thing you should know about The Tin Soldier – and in fact the first thing I said upon leaving the theatre – is that it is absolutely charming. Its an unusual choice of source material for a show aimed at youngsters, not least because Hans Christian Andersen’s original, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, doesn’t have the most cheerful ending – but Birds of Paradise’s adaptation written by Mike Kenny is heartwarming, funny, inclusive, and cleverly realised. It might well be the show you didn’t realise you wanted to see this Christmas.

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Review: How To Disappear Rating 89%

Review: How To Disappear

It’s not an easy task pulling off genuine laugh-out-loud moments in what is ostensibly a grim play about benefit cuts. And yet Morna Pearson’s script, even as it plunges into bleakness, transcends it. From the cluttered and claustrophobic bedroom that serves as the set, to siblings Robert (Owen Whitelaw) and Isla (Kirsty Mackay), doing their best to get through life in harsh circumstances, there is an intriguing underlying suggestiveness willing us to look beyond these surfaces.

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Review: The Nutcracker Rating 90%

Review: The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker ballet is synonymous with Christmas, and in this gorgeous glittery Scottish Ballet production choreographed by Peter Darrell, the festive season takes on an effervescent elegance. This art form was once considered elite and may still be to some extent, yet these days a ticket won’t set you back any more (sometimes less) than a major musical, concert, panto or meal in a half decent restaurant. Anyone who has taken classes in ballet, will know just how disciplined it is  – and this shows in its production values, meaning that the attention to detail, perfection and immaculate performances make it a stunning watch.

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Review: Cinderella Rating 90%

Review: Cinderella

I’ll admit it – I love panto. Done well, it’s absolutely brilliant. And to those who say, “Oh no it isn’t!” don’t worry. I have done my utmost to ensure that this is an impartial review, free of catchphrases and corny one-liners. How, you ask? My response – take someone to the show who most decidedly DOES NOT want to come. Okay, he’s not quite five years old and doesn’t even properly know what panto is, but still. He’s not going, my opinionated companion tells me, and that’s that.

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Review: The Arabian Nights Rating 79%

Review: The Arabian Nights

Why have one story in your Christmas show when you could have a whole collection of them? In Suhayla El-Bushra’s new telling of The Arabian Nights at the Lyceum, directed by Joe Douglas, a stubborn and resourceful young girl named Scheherazade – played very likeably by Rehanna MacDonald – must use her storytelling to save her mother and the other inhabitants of Baghdad’s marketplace from imprisonment by the Sultan. There’s intrigue. There’s shadow puppetry. There’s a sock genie and dogs making fart jokes. In short, it’s everything you could want from a fun, charming night at the theatre.

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Review: La Clique Noel Rating 90%

Review: La Clique Noel

Thirteen years after its conception by director David Bates, La Clique Noel is still going strong and it’s no surprise. The Underbelly delivers once again with this kaleidoscopic whirlwind of a show – think ‘best of the Fringe’ – the finest in their field of entertainment have been cherry-picked to make this a whopper of a show, which shrewdly caters to all tastes when it comes to entertainment.

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Review: Legally Blonde Rating 75%

Review: Legally Blonde

The point of Legally Blonde – or at least this version of Legally Blonde, directed by Anthony Williams – isn’t so much what happens, as how it feels. Personally, I think that’s one of the things that makes theatre different from other modes of storytelling – the experience of being in a room with the rest of the audience, the rest of the performers, and sharing the feelings, the electricity. And this production goes all out, precisely as it should do: there’s technicolour set, dozens upon dozens of costume changes, frequent full-company dance breaks, glitter balls over the auditorium. The lighting designer has clearly had a field day. The result is exuberant, lively, and just all round a really great room to spend three hours in.

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Review: Our Fathers Rating 73%

Review: Our Fathers

As piped organ music sets a reverential scene, writer-performer Rob Drummond circles the audience, asking “Can you remember any of the 10 Commandments?” One woman shouts out, “Adultery!” Drummond shoots back, sharp-as-a-tack, “Not now, I’m working”.

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Review: Cabaret Rating 45%

Review: Cabaret

I arrived for the opening night of Cabaret at the Edinburgh Playhouse feeling utterly unequipped for the night’s proceedings having never seen the original film and knowing nothing about it. The only bit I remembered was that it featured Liza Minnelli using a chair incorrectly. The latest version sees Louise Redknapp pick up the Liza role and due to her and Will Young’s involvement my expectations were sky high. For my age range Louise Redknapp is an iconic figure held in higher regard than Geri from the Spice Girls. Who can forget the three page spread pull-out posters of Louise in Loaded back in the 90s? Not me, obviously.

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Review: Vaults Rating 80%

Review: Vaults

A haunted pub, a series of mysterious deaths that may be linked, and one long night; Vaults is a one-act play by actor and playwright Jonathan Whiteside, performed in situ at locations where ghosts are said to walk. This year it was the vaults beneath Edinburgh’s Banshee Labyrinth, but in 2018 Vaults will be touring at the Withorn Crypts.

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