Preview 2009 - Theatre

Stage whispers

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Be Near Me

Be Near Me

Scottish theatre scales new heights in 2009, as Allan Radcliffe discovers

Recession? What recession? If you believe the old adage that entertainment thrives in hard times (proven by the rise of the cinema in the austere 30s) surely theatre, which offers escape into alternative worlds, is the ideal diversion from dreary reality. Certainly, the variety and depth of theatre in Scotland deserves mighty audiences in 2009.

As ever, new work jostles alongside innovative revivals of classics. Glasgow’s Citizens’ launches its Spring season with Sub Rosa, a gothic promenade piece by maverick theatre-maker David Leddy, leading an audience of 15 through the backstage spaces of the historic Gorbals building. Over at the Tron, Year of the Horse (Feb), devised and performed by Tam Dean Burn and with original music by Keith McIvor of Glasgow club night, Optimo, explores the Bush/Blair years through cartoons produced by the award-winning children’s author Harry Hors for the Sunday Herald. The Tron also hosts the UK premier of Irish playwright Stuart Carolan’s Defender of the Faith, directed by Andy Arnold.

Over at Arnold’s former place of work, Nic Green brings her recreation of Town Bloody Hall to the Arches theatre festival (Apr) as a double bill with Sacha Kyle’s The Library.

The National Theatre of Scotland kicks off the year collaborating with Hush Productions on Dolls, a dramatic reimagining of the film by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, intertwining tales of love, loss and obsession. Acclaimed NTS productions showcasing their wares further afield include Dundee Rep’s breathtaking revival of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, which heads for London’s Barbican Centre in April/May. The John Tiffany-directed stage version of Andrew O’Hagan’s novel Be Near Me, about a priest assigned a new parish in Ayrshire, premiers at Kilmarnock’s Palace Theatre in January, transferring to London’s Donmar Warehouse before embarking on an English and Scottish tour.

Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum teams up with Perth Theatre to revive The Mystery of Irma Vep the ultimate parody of gothic romance, by American playwright Charles Ludlam, while renowned director Tony Cownie helms Michael Frayn’s powerful World War II drama Copenhagen.

Dance lovers can look forward to an electrifying version of Carmen choreographed by Richard Alston for Scottish Ballet, in a double bill with Ashley Page’s Cheating, Lying, Stealing. The Richard Alston Dance Company will also appear at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal (Feb), marking the choreographer’s 40 years in the business, while the same theatre hosts the all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

For those who relish the triple threat of visual spectacle, virtuoso dance and show-stopping tunes, the Central Belt will welcome touring productions of Fame, Cabaret, Joseph and Chess while the ultimate high-kicking hoofalong, 42nd Street heads up to Glasgow’s King’s in March. It’s going to be one helluva year.

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