National Theatre aims to knock out critics

THE National Theatre of Scotland yesterday unveiled a series of big names for its Edinburgh Festival programme in a bid to silence critics who claim it has failed to hit the heights during the last year.

The actress and Deacon Blue vocalist Lorraine McIntosh has been confirmed for the cast of Beautiful Burnout, a gritty new drama in the Fringe festival set in the amateur boxing scene in Glasgow. She is joined by the actor Ewan Stewart, best known for his role as First Officer Murdoch, who manned the bridge of the doomed liner in the film epic Titanic.

The NTS will be hoping for a break-out hit at the festivals this summer after an uncertain season this year.

Major productions, including the motorcycle show Wall of Death and a new version of Peter Pan, were mostly overlooked in recent nominations for Scotland's biggest stage awards, the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland.

The NTS comes to Edinburgh this August with two major shows. Caledonia, in the Edinburgh International Festival, is a political satire set amid Scotland's disastrous attempt to found a colony – New Caledonia – in Central America in the infamous Darien affair in the 1690s.

Beautiful Burnout, however, opens in the Pleasance Forth, a brand-new space at the Pleasance venue in the Fringe.

McIntosh yesterday said she was relishing the prospect of her first Festival appearance. "I am really looking forward to rehearsals getting under way," she said.

It was the Fringe that in 2006 provided the platform for Black Watch, which swept a string of festival awards and went onto worldwide success.

While Architecting followed with a Scotsman Fringe First award in 2008, Black Watch is still considered the NTS's signature production.

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