Best new theatre coming to Edinburgh this autumn season
- Gareth K Vile
- 29 August 2018
As 2018 winds down, get a sneak peak of what to watch at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum and Traverse Theatre
David Greig's third season as artistic director at Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum begins with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (Fri 14 Sep-Sat 6 Oct) – well in keeping with the theatre's interest in classic scripts, but more familiar than previous choices such as the dismal misogyny of Strindberg's Creditors or the reframing of The Belle's Stratagem. Directed by Wils Wilson – who demonstrated in her production of Cockpit that she can rescue a script from the awkwardness of the past's political incorrectness – the Bard's hoary old tale of love and disguise is reimagined in the Summer of Love, with an appropriately genre-clashing soundtrack by Welsh musician Meilyr Jones.
Following this is the NTS production of Cyrano de Bergerac (Fri 12 Oct–Sat 3 Nov), another classic retooled by Dominic Hill from the Citizens' Theatre, before the Christmas interlude brings Wendy and Peter Pan (Thu 29 Nov–Sat 5 Jan). The Lyceum's history has seen it become the home of a particular tradition of well-crafted scripts, focused on strong ensembles, familiar playwrights or adaptations of popular work: moving into 2019, both Touching the Void and Local Hero tap into the latter. Greig's statements about a relevant and contemporary theatre, expressed in the themes of Stratagem and Cockpit aren't necessarily evident in these choices. They do, however, slot nicely into a broad, popular appeal.
The Traverse has often been cast in contrast to the Lyceum and while the departure of artistic director Orla O'Loughin is a sad loss, not least because of her support for female-led productions, their autumn season concentrates on new plays and immediate concerns: Manpower (Wed 26 & Thu 27 Sep) examines working-class male experience, Scotties (Thu 27–Sat 29 Sep) considers minority languages and a selection of first readings of brand new plays supports emerging playwrights in the first stage of their latest work. The range of Edinburgh's theatre scene has always been marked by the contrasting approaches of the Traverse and Lyceum, and its health expressed by their successes beyond the drama of the Fringe.