All the Noras: Anna Russell-Martin, Molly Vevers and Maryam Hamidi in Nora: A Doll's House, the first production in the Citizens Women season presented at Tramway

Theatre reviews: Nora – A Doll’s House | The Taming of the Shrew | Scurvy Ridden Whale Men

ON TOM Piper’s brilliant set for Stef Smith’s thrilling new 21st century perspective on the story of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, three doorframes stand between the domestic space and the outside world. For each door, there is a different version of Nora, the young wife and mother who, at the end of Ibsen’s play, famously walks through her front door and slams it, finishing the charade of the conventional marriage in which she was treated like a child and a plaything.

In Smith’s vision – staged by the Citizens’ Theatre at Tramway – the first Nora, electrifyingly played by Anna Russell-Martin, is from the #metoo year of 2018, the second (Maryam Hamidi) from 1968, at the height of the sexual revolution, and the third (Molly Vevers) from 1918; yet on this dizzyingly brilliant two-hour journey through the arc of Ibsen’s story, driven by a subtly powerful musical score from Michael John McCarthy, the narrative passes between them with a strange and chilling ease, like the baton in some endlessly-repeating relay race of timeless female experience.

Maureen Beattie, Shyvonne Ahmmad, Moyo Akande and Nicholas Ralph are outstanding in Interference, a trilogy of new plays by Morna Pearson, Hannah Khalil, and Vlad Butucea,  directed by Cora Bissett. Picture: John Devlin

Theatre review: Interference

IN THIS second decade of the 21st century, the edges of our humanity are beginning to blur. Scientists call it the Uncanny Valley, the unsettling area where the human and the artificial become hard to distinguish; and the whole purpose of the National Theatre of Scotland’s new trilogy, commissioned and directed by Cora Bissett, and presented on two stages in a wide open office floor at City Park, is to lead us into that valley, and to invite us to explore some of its most troubling places.

Comedian Carmen Lynch has a refreshingly caustic world view and a real joke writing talent

Comedy review: Carmen Lynch, The Stand, Glasgow

COMBINING American ease at talking about her dating travails with a dry, sardonic delivery that suits British sensibilities, Carmen Lynch immediately stands out. Since she first began performing in this country two years ago, the New Yorker has modified her deadpan delivery to become more engaging, but retained her compelling cynical streak and unquestionable joke-writing talent.

Gez Mercer in Fat Blokes PIC: Holly Revell

Theatre review: Fat Blokes, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

For many of us it’s the last acceptable prejudice, the damning, shaming and marginalising of fat people; and as one of the Fat Blokes, Joe Spencer, points out during the show, it has also become a matter of class, with those who lack access to expensive healthy foods judged and dismissed as undisciplined no-hopers, entirely responsible for their own plight.

Scarlett Brookes and Matt Gavan in The Taming of the Shrew PIC: Mark Douet

Jo Clifford on making a Taming of the Shrew for the 21st century

In Cardiff, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. The Stage called it “startlingly relevant,” for the Times it was “mischievous, knotty and impassioned,” and the Western Mail declared that it “transforms Shakespeare’s most chauvinist play into a feminist triumph.” And now, Jo Clifford’s new version of The Taming of the Shrew – with all the male characters transformed into women, and vice versa – is on its way to the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, which co-produced the show with Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre.

Abigoliah Schamaun

Glasgow Comedy Festival reviews: Abigoliah Schamaun | Sean McLoughlin

Too painfully self-aware and skilful as comics to frame their identity struggles as typical millennial angst, early thirty-somethings Sean McLoughlin and Abigoliah Schamaun make their respective malaises seem idiosyncratic before arriving at broader conclusions about what they might mean for society. The demands of annually crafting a stand-up show of personal revelation with wider application naturally encourages a degree of contrivance. Even so, both of these acts at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival convince you of the significance of their personal epiphanies, eliciting considerable laughs from then exploring the bigger picture.

Ed Gamble PIC: Jane Hobson/REX/Shutterstock

Glasgow Comedy Festival review: Ed Gamble - Blizzard, The Stand, Glasgow

REJECTING an overriding narrative for six unrelated routines, Blizzard, in its tight, hour-long format, is the sort of show that might go unheralded at the Edinburgh Fringe, where hype and artistic pretension is everything. Out of that pressure cooker environment, however, Ed Gamble’s latest offering plays extremely well in a club setting.

Ishy Din's Approaching Empty has echoes of Arthur Miller, but with a faster, wittier sitcom style

Theatre review: Approaching Empty, Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh

It was chilly in the Roxy on Friday evening but not cold enough – even with a 20- minute interval – to drive away an audience held firmly in the grip of Ishy Din’s terrific new play, co-produced by Tamasha Theatre of London, the Kiln in Kilburn and Live Theatre, Newcastle.

Wendy Seager is in heart-rending form as a woman whose world is turned upside down

Theatre review: Coming Clean: Barbara, Oran Mor, Glasgow

WENDY Seager is one of Scotland’s finest actresses, quietly plying he trade mainly in theatre and in radio drama; but I have rarely seen her in such heart-rending and sometimes terrifying form as in this magnificent and disturbing new monologue by veteran playwright and screenwriter Alma Cullen, inspired by recent #metoo revelations of previously unreported sexual misconduct in high places.

Kira Malou as Baby and Michael O'Reilly as Johnny) in Dirty Dancing at the Festival Theatre

Theatre review: Dirty Dancing, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

PATRICK SWAYZE’S premature death in 2009, at only 57, may have robbed Hollywood of one of its best-loved stars; but a decade on, his legacy is still helping to shape this spring’s touring programme at the Festival Theatre, with last week’s version of Ghost - a story made famous by Swayze’s star performance in the 1990 film - followed this week by a swift visit from Dirty Dancing, the record-breaking stage musical based on the smash-hit 1987 film that made Swayze’s name, when he played handsome dance instructor Johnny Castle opposite Jennifer Grey’s “Baby” Houseman, the 1960s middle-class girl with radical principles whose liberal Dad somehow struggles to accept her holiday romance with working-class Johnny.

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