Something Wicked This Way Comes
Tramway, Glasgow, until Sat 1 Nov
When Gill Robertson first set out to put Ray Bradbury’s 1962 novel on the stage, her main concern was doing the book justice. In reality, if anything, she puts it in the shade. The standard of this co-production between Catherine Wheels and the National Theatre of Scotland is so high that Bradbury’s script (he adapted it himself) does its job but no more by comparison.
Robertson’s direction, Karen Tennent’s innovative set, David Paul Jones’ original live music, Paul Sorley’s atmospheric lighting and the stellar cast all come together beautifully in a show that’s aimed at young people but works for everyone. Bradbury’s coming of age tale of two teenage boys caught up in the machinations of a terrifying carnival is rich in detail, not all of which makes it into this condensed adaptation. Themes of love and hate, youth and mortality, caution and spontaneity are all touched upon, though none in great detail. Not that it matters, because Robertson has us in the palm of her hand and on the edge of our seats with her visual box of tricks.
Deliciously sinister characters such as carnival owner, Mr Dark and scraggy old Dust Witch send a shiver down the spine each time they appear, the latter flying over the rooftops courtesy of some nifty aerial work. Few people emerge as three dimensional enough for us to truly care about, but as a dynamic, well-crafted and visually stunning piece of ensemble theatre, this is a scary treat.