From blockbuster films to posthumous poetry, Scotland on Sunday’s reviewers pick the artists and events to watch
A typical film year features something old, something new and something borrowed – and in the case of one horror comedy drama, all three at once. Pride And Prejudice And Zombies stars former Doctor Who Matt Smith, discovering that it is a truth rarely universally acknowledged that while Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy were bantering, a zombie plague was sweeping 18th century Britain.
Other highlights from the British film industry in 2015 include the hot-and-bothered interpretation of Fifty Shades Of Grey with Jamie Dornan (above) as the business magnate with a sex and shopping portfolio; and for the family, Aardman Animation’s Shaun The Sheep Movie, looks set to be a highlight.
Daniel Craig’s Bond is back (below) with Bond 24, and other trusted reboots will include Jurassic World, Star Wars: Episode VII and Mad Max: Fury Road.
However, Benedict Cumberbatch fans have only one chance to see the busy Brit on the big screen next year. In Black Mass he’s a state senator with a violent criminal for a brother, played by Johnny Depp.
First out of the theatrical traps after the panto season will be Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum, which has a tantalising run of drama lined up for the spring. It begins in January with Brian Friel’s lyrical Faith Healer and moves on to Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler and the Goldoni The Venetian Twins.
Through in Glasgow, all eyes will be on the Citizens’ in February when David Hayman (above) will direct The Slab Boys, the John Byrne classic which he directed on its debut in 1978. Byrne will design and Hayman will also appear.
It’s a promising year for playwright Douglas Maxwell. His Fever Dream: Southside is getting a full production by the Citz in April after an excellent student try-out a few years ago, while his translation of the Argentinian comedy Yer Granny is lined-up for a National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) tour.
Other NTS highlights include Kai Fischer’s space-age Last Dream (On Earth), hard-hitting Rites by Cora Bissett (right) and a summer adaptation of Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat.
In May, but for younger audiences, the Imaginate festival has commissioned Lou Brodie to create Bounce inside a bouncy inflatable.
The blockbuster of the summer will be the Edinburgh International Festival production of Antigone starring Juliette Binoche.
The first major UK show of the work of Belgian abstract painter Raoul de Keyser starts the year at Inverleith House from February, followed by the first solo show in a public gallery for Swiss-born, GSA-trained Nicolas Party from May, who promises to paint his colourful forms directly on to the walls.
Glasgow-based Laura Aldridge takes over Tramway 2 from late January, while Clare Stephenson and Zoe Williams show next to artist and legendary fashion stylist Maripol in a creative piece of programming at Dundee Contemporary Arts from April. In March, Norwegian artist and musician Magne Furuholmen (formerly of pop band A-ha) brings new work to Dovecot Studios, with whom he has collaborated on a tapestry. Also in the spring, look out for the degree shows of over 100 GSA students whose work spaces were destroyed in the Mackintosh Building fire (left).
Summer brings blockbusters to the National Galleries of Scotland: David Bailey’s photographs at the Mound, 18th century Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard at the Portrait Gallery, and a major retrospective of the work of MC Escher at Modern Two. Meanwhile the brightly coloured abstract works of American sculptor John Chamberlain move into Inverleith House and the Botanic Garden (from late July), Phyllida Barlow makes new site-specific work for her show at Fruitmarket (from June) and Swiss adventurer Roman Signer’s experiments with catapults and kayaks continue at DCA from July. Autumn brings the Turner Prize to Tramway in Glasgow.
It is a full quarter of a century since Kazuo Ishiguro anatomised Downton Abbey-like upper-class glitz in his incomparable Booker-winning The Remains Of the Day; and a decade since his last novel, the unforgettable dystopian horror in which boarding school pupils are raised to provide organs for human transplantation, Never Let Me Go. Each have sold more than a million copies in their Faber editions alone, so it’s no wonder that the publisher leads off its 2015 catalogue with Ishiguro’s latest, The Buried Giant, which is set – because he has never been a predictable writer – in Dark Ages Britain and features one of the knights of the Round Table.
Elsewhere, there’s no shortage of other highlights. In fiction, critics are already salivating over Purity, Jonathan Franzen’s “multi-generational American epic”, due out in the autumn, while Anne Tyler, my own favourite American writer, delivers A Spool of Blue Thread – which she has said will be her final novel – in February. Among Scottish writers, February also gives us Andrew O’Hagan’s The Illuminations, while in May A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson (above) follows Teddy, the younger brother of Ursula Todd, her protagonist in Life After Life. In June, Gavin Francis, the Edinburgh GP who won the Scottish Book of the Year in 2013 with Empire Antarctica, changes tack to write about the wonders of the human body in Adventures In Human Being. Finally, in February, we will also get a glimpse of a side of Iain Banks (inset) most of us never knew existed: that he wrote poetry. Edited by his great friend Ken McLeod, Little, Brown are bringing out Banks’s final book just in time for what would have been his 60th birthday on 16 February.
Fears Trending from The Phantom Band (above) – out later in the month – will be one of a plethora of promising new Scottish albums being released throughout winter and spring, with Belle & Sebastian’s Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance Errors’ Lease Of Life out in March and Idlewild’s Everything Ever Written out in February. Django Django will also premiere new material at Edinburgh’s Liquid Room in February.
Elsewhere, we can look forward to new records from Mark Ronson (Uptown Special, out in January), post-punks Gang of Four (What Happens Next, February) and sci-fi stadium rockers Muse with their untitled and unscheduled new album. Also expect a Sinatra covers record named Shadows In The Night from Bob Dylan (below) in February and Coldplay’s A Head Full Of Dreams.
Stand-out gigs include the second return of Jesus and Mary Chain in as many years (Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, February), femme-rockers Sleater-Kinney (ABC, Glasgow, March), rap icons Wu-Tang Clan (Academy, Glasgow, June) and breakout stars of 2014 The War On Drugs (Usher Hall, Edinburgh, February), while Paul Simon/Sting (Hydro, Glasgow, April) and Take That (Hydro, Glasgow, April) should be guaranteed box office.
Scottish Opera’s New Year opens with dark productions of the brilliant, brutal Ines de Castro (January) by James MacMillan (below), conducted by the composer, and Janacek’s Jenufa (April) before a grand revival of their 2001 production of Verdi’s anvil-toting Il Trovatore (May).
There is orchestral drama, too, not least from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, whose continuing nods to Shakespeare include Walton’s Henry V under Richard Farnes (January). The excellent Alice Coote sings Mahler’s songs from Das Knaben Wunderhorn with conductor Mark Wigglesworth (April), and Chief Conductor Donald Runnicles’ presents Janacek’s dazzling Sinfonietta alongside a double dose of Shostakovich (May).
With the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, period performance pioneer Roger Norrington returns to conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No 6 Pastoral (February); the dazzling Jean-Efflam Bavouzet plays Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto (February) and Music Director Peter Oundjian mounts Elgar’s choral masterpiece The Dream Of Gerontius. (May).
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra field Philippe Herreweghe in Mozart’s Requiem (March), and Harry Christophers conducting Haydn’s barnstorming Creation (May).
Argentinian pianist Ingrid Fliter plays Chopin’s Piano Concerto No 1 (April).
Elsewhere, Perth continues its excellent Piano Sundays, the Hebrides Ensemble juxtapose Mozart and MacMillan Horn Quintets (April) and the enticing East Neuk Festival (June-July) scatters a vast company of horns, courtesy of John Luther Adams, around the magical woodlands of Cambo House. Happy New Musical Year!
Sarah Urwin Jones