Theatre reviews: Strange Tales, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh | Cinderfella, Tron Theatre, Glasgow

IF PANTOMIME is not your cup of Chinese tea – or if you just feel like a change of festive pace – then you may find some real balm for the soul in the Traverse’s latest show for the Christmas season. Co-produced with Edinburgh’s Grid Iron company, and inspired by the stories of 17th century Chinese writer Pu Songling, Strange Tales offers a spectacular theatrical retelling of just eight of his many hundreds of tales; stories as familiar in Chinese culture as classic fairytales are in the west, celebrated in the equivalent of Disney films, and still told by parents and grandparents to each new generation of children.

Allan Stewart, Andy Gray and Grant Stott reunite, joined by Jordan  Young and Gillian Parkhouse as Goldilocks at the Kings Theatre

Theatre review: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

THE plot is mince, and the circus setting more old-school variety than classic pantomime; but no-one cares this year at the King’s in Edinburgh, as Scotland’s warmest and most party-minded panto audience welcomes back Andy Gray, one of its three great stars, after a year out to undergo cancer treatment. Once described by Richard E Grant as the funniest man alive, Gray has a history in Scottish theatre and television that ranges from Naked Video to River City, and from pantomime to groundbreaking Scottish productions of Dario Fo farces.

A Christmas Carol at Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Theatre reviews: Sinbad the Sailor, Perth Theatre | A Christmas Carol, Pitlochry Festival Theatre

In Perthshire, beavers are controversial; conservationists love them, farmers often aren’t so sure.  Like all the best pantos, though, this year’s Sinbad at Perth Theatre knows how to side with the little guy, and win the audience’s support; and as soon as we hear Helen Logan – as gorgeous wicked villainess Vindicta – railing against the little river rodents with the big buck teeth, we know that the beavers, played by a terrific team of six young dancers from Perth’s junior company, will be working with the good guys, against Vindicta’s preferred future of endless riverside mall developments.

Crawford Logan in An Edinburgh Christmas Carol

Theatre review: An Edinburgh Christmas Carol, Lyceum, Edinburgh

There’s one important truth at the heart of Tony Cownie’s new Edinburgh version of A Christmas Carol; and that’s the fact that, in Scotland, the celebration of Christmas was banned outright for more than a hundred years after our profoundly radical Presbyterian revolution of the late 16th century, and slightly frowned upon for more than two centuries after that – so much so that, as Scrooge mentions towards the end of the show, it was 1958 before Christmas became an official public holiday in Scotland.

Lesley Manville stars with Liam Neeson in Ordinary Love

Lesley Manville on her new movie with Liam Neeson, Ordinary Love

Ever since her Oscar nomination for Phantom Thread, work has been flooding in for Lesley Manville, finally letting US audiences see the talent evident on stage, screen and TV here for decades. The actor talks to @JanetChristie2 about new film Ordinary Love with Liam Neeson, and taking the opportunities that come her way

Film and TV
Amy Scott is a great Dixie Whittington who is set to give up on London fame while Dave Anderson is sarky Dame Dora Dumplin'

Theatre reviews: Dixie Whittington: The Hamecoming, Oran Mor, Glasgow | How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

GET your pie and a big glass of wine, and settle in; for the Oran Mor Christmas show, pride of Glasgow’s West End, is a panto for adults, in the very best sense. This year’s offering – written and directed by A Play, A Pie And A Pint’s inimitable joint artistic director, Morag Fullarton – is a waggish new female-led version of the Dick Whittington story, in which Dixie, a talented singer from Partick with a talking stuffed cat, is about to give up her quest for fame and fortune in London, when she meets Dame Dora Dumplin’, the highly satirical cook aboard a ship at the nearby docks.

Caroline Newall, acting artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland PIC: Niall Walker

Joyce McMillan: new National Theatre of Scotland programme is impressive, but why aren’t there more large-scale shows?

The very idea of a national theatre company is enough to invite controversy; and not just occasionally, but every day. The claim that a theatre company is somehow representing the nation leads inevitably to debate about the nation itself, and how it sees itself; and in the last few years, both the fledgling National Theatre of Wales and Ireland’s national theatre at the Abbey in Dublin have been besieged by protests, on topics ranging from poor gender balance in the Abbey’s programme to a perceived failure to employ enough writers and actors based in Wales.

Leah Byrne, Martin Quinn and Eklovey Kashyap play Basher McKenzie, Oor Wullie and Wahid in the new musical.

Theatre review: Oor Wullie, Dundee Rep

Almost everyone in Scotland knows the image, as vivid now as when it was first published in the Sunday Post, back in 1936. The dungarees, the spiky hair, the famous bucket; and the gallus wee chap of ten or so for whom that bucket is an essential home base and resting-place, between cheeky adventures.

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