Theatre preview: Mischief La-Bas to explore the dark side of nursery rhymes

The Trongate in Glasgow is a street full of history. Running west from the point where the old High Street winds down into the Saltmarket, it’s been a place associated for centuries with the teeming and sometimes violent street life of one of the world’s great industrial cities, where people of all nations surged up from the docks along the river in search of work and new lives, or just a drink, some company, and a chance to buy and sell in Paddy’s Market, a few yards to the south. Today, it’s the home of the Tron Theatre, based in an old church built over a plague-pit; but a century ago, its most famous place of entertainment was the Britannia Panopticon, an astonishing music hall with a basement menagerie of wild animals, scene of Stan Laurel’s first stand-up comedy act. And it’s in and around the magic, crumbling space of the Panopticon – still standing above the local amusement arcade, and cherished by a dedicated group of volunteers – that Scotland’s leading outdoor theatre company Mischief La-Bas is about to conjure up its latest show, an unsettling study of the dark side of the nursery rhymes we all learned as children, set in the Panopticon and in the dark lanes around it.

How To Save The World... Ish

Theatre review: Chrysalis festival, Traverse, Edinburgh

We are in a land like ours in all respects but one: it is the duty of every citizen to hold onto a string that rises – who knows where? – into the sky. It’s a bit of a chore, but the people have always put up with it. Until now, that is. In a virus-like wave of civil disobedience, they have started letting go of their strings and carrying on their lives unencumbered.

Will Young plays the MC with Louise Redknapp as Sally Bowles

Theatre reviews: Cabaret | Kind Stranger | Love and Information

WHEN Rufus Norris’s production of Cabaret first opened in London in 2012, it caused something of a sensation. Not only did it star Pop Idol celebrity Will Young in the key role of the master of ceremonies, famously played by Joel Gray in Bob Fosse’s great 1972 film, but it seized the politics of the story by the throat, offering a final scene in which we see the happy party people who once –in early-1930s Berlin – used to hang out in the Kit Kat Club, now being stripped naked, and herded into the gas chambers.

A stark warning from history, delivered by Will Young and Louise Rednapp, in the musical Cabaret

Joyce McMillan: The rise of the far-right in Europe is no Cabaret, old chum

It seemed like a pretty ordinary reviewing job, when I headed for the Edinburgh Playhouse on Tuesday to see the current production of Cabaret. The show won a nomination at the 2013 Olivier Awards for Pop Idol star Will Young, who plays the key role of Emcee at the iconic 1930s Berlin dive, the Kit Kat Club; and this week in Edinburgh, he’s joined by Louise Redknapp playing the English cabaret singer Sally Bowles, and Susan Penhaligon as their Berlin landlady, Fraulein Schneider. It’s a thrilling piece of musical theatre, driven by those legendary Kander & Ebb songs.

Opinion 27
Amy McGregor as Jade and Patrick Wallace as Barnaby in Up To Speed at Burnbrae Primary School, Bonnyrigg, Midlothian - a Catherine Wheels production for Theatre In Schools Scotland (TiSS). PIC: Colin Hattersley Photography

Joyce McMillan: Theatre in Schools Scotland project is now reaching children from Shetland to the Borders

It’s eleven in the morning at Pinkie St Peter’s School in Musselburgh; the sun is shining on the playing fields outside, and Primary 3 are filing into the school hall for a performance of Rosalind Sydney’s show Up To Speed, by Catherine Wheels Theatre company. The two performers, Amy McGregor and Patrick Wallace, are already circling the space, warming up, chatting to the audience as they settle cross-legged on the floor mats; and then the story begins, a far from simple yarn about a girl called Jade and her friend Barney, Primary 6 class-mates who have to give a presentation together about a science subject.

A scene from Lampedusa at the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow

Theatre review: Lampedusa, Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow

It was Karl Marx who called religion “the heart of a heartless world”; but finding that heart in cruel times is also one of the roles of art. Anders Lustgarten’s 2015 play, Lampedusa, is named after the mid-Mediterraenan Italian island that lies between Sicily and Tunisia.

Acosta Danza

Dance review: Acosta Danza: Debut, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

For years, Carlos Acosta entertained audiences with his technical prowess and emotional resonance. So now that he’s on the other side of the stage, running a company, training dancers and building a repertoire, he knows exactly what to look for.

The Wipers Times  PIC: Kirsten McTernan

Theatre reviews: The Wipers Times | Meat Market

It wasn’t funny, the First World War. Four million soldiers lost their lives in a gruelling war of attrition, one million of them British; and in many ways the nation never recovered. Yet as the songs sung by the men at the Front demonstrate, a certain grim humour was one of the essential weapons of war, helping to sustain morale in the trenches when nothing else would do; and nothing ever demonstrated the force of that weapon more clearly than The Wipers Times, a little satirical magazine produced at the front, for a remarkable two and a half years from 1916-18, by Captain Fred Roberts of the 24th Division of the Sherwood Foresters, his Lieutenant Jack Pearson, and their Sergeant, who had been a printer in civvy street.

The Ballet Boyz in Fourteen Days

Dance review: BalletBoyz - Fourteen Days, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

THE blood, sweat and tears that go into making a piece of dance are usually lost on an audience, and rightly so - it’s the polish people pay for. But the title of the BalletBoyz’s latest tour allows us to edge closer to the creative process.

Tabula Rasa PIC: Hugh Carswell

Theatre & Music review: Tabula Rasa, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

IT’S both strange and fitting that this new collaboration between Vanishing Point Theatre Company and the Scottish Ensemble should open on the weekend of Remembrance Day, the moment in the year when our society stages its huge annual effort to take some meaning from the deaths of those lost in war. For at the core of this show - directed, designed and co-written by Vanishing Point’s Matthew Lenton - there is a steely and courageous determination not to soften the fact of death by creating around it a narrative of meaning and resolution, where there may well be no such thing.

New stage show Touching the Void will be adapted from Joe Simpson's best-selling book of the same name.

Touching the Void to be brought to the stage in Edinburgh

The famous true-life story of a mountainteering trip in the Peruvian Andes which went disastrously wrong is to be turned into a major new stage play in Scotland.

Edinburgh, Fife & Lothians
Lu Kemp of Perth Theatre PIC: Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

Interview: artistic director Lu Kemp on what’s in store at the newly renovated Perth Theatre

Come out of the main entrance of Perth Concert Hall, turn right along Mill Street, walk a couple of hundred yards; and there, in less than a fortnight now – at the heart of what’s becoming Perth’s “cultural quarter” – you’ll find a welcoming new entrance to Perth Theatre, set to reopen after almost four years of loving and imaginative redevelopment. The beautiful, jewel-like Edwardian auditorium is still there, carefully restored to all its 1901 glory with the help of craftsmen from the Perth area, as is its lovely canopied entrance from the High Street; and in December, the theatre will play host in time-honoured style to the annual Perth Christmas pantomime, a no-holds-barred version of Aladdin starring inimitable dame Barrie Hunter.

Karine Polwart in Wind Resistance at the Royal Lyceum

Theatre review: Wind Resistance, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

In the programme for Wind Resistance, the show’s creator and performer Karine Polwart – award-winning singer, songwriter, publisher and now theatre-maker – offers a dedication which is worth reading in full. She dedicates it to her two children, growing up in Midlothian today; to the late Molly Kristensen, once her neighbour in a farm cottage near Fala moor; to Molly’s long-dead parents, Will and Roberta Syme, who also lived there; to an old school friend who died in childbirth; and to “the midwives and healers and keepers of the earth who have cared for us all across time and space…. and the moors that will outlast us all”.

The Wipers Times  PIC: Kirsten McTernan

Theatre interview: Ian Hislop on his First World War drama, The Wipers Times

Ian Hislop’s play The Wipers Times, which will be at the Theatre Royal Glasgow on Armistice Day, celebrates the satirical newspaper produced by soldiers in the trenches during the First World War. It is also a tribute to their bravery, he tells Jay Richardson

Vivien Reid and Dewi Rhys Williams in The Burton Taylor Affair

Theatre reviews: Duet for One | The Burton Taylor Affair

IT’S A dangerous business, writing plays which are – or can be interpreted as being – about real historical figures. In a programme note to Birmingham Rep’s recent production of Duet For One, now on tour in Edinburgh, the playwright Tom Kempinski flatly denies that the story it tells, of a great female violinist struck down in mid-career by multiple sclerosis, has anything to do with the life of Jacqueline Du Pre, the legendary English cellist who died in 1987, 14 years after her career was ended by the disease.

Tabula Rasa PIC: Hugh Carswell

Theatre preview: Vanishing Point and Scottish Ensemble team up for Tabula Rasa

It’s several years, now, since the Glasgow-based Scottish Ensemble, the UK’s only professional string orchestra, began to explore what it could learn about music, and about reaching out to new audiences, through working with those involved in other art-forms. So far, their partners in a series of successful projects have included the visual artist Toby Paterson, The Swedish contemporary dance company Andersson Dance, and Scottish Album of the Year winner Anna Meredith, who joined them last year in creating an acclaimed new variation on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Hannah Rudd, Carolyn Bolton, Luke Ahmet and Pierre Tappon perform A Linha Curva PIC: Hugo Glendinning

Dance review: Rambert, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

In the unlikely event that Rambert Dance Company ever has to prove its mettle, this triple-bill should be its first port of call. Three disparate works requiring such a diverse range of skills to execute them, it’s as if a different company steps out onto the stage each time.

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