Review of the year - theatre

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Peer Gynt

The year began well at the Lyceum, with John Dove’s superb All My Sons setting the picket-fence lawns of postwar USA afire in a manner that reminded us that Miller’s message about the personal and political costs of capitalism is as inescapable today as it was in 1947. There followed another revival of a more recent, but equally compelling text about how systemic structures destroy our personal, and even spiritual lives in Daniel Kramer’s production of Angels in America at the Citz.

But there was scope for new work as well, with Dundee Rep’s sweetly engaging, and sometimes socially forensic Sunshine on Leith bringing all the joy and pathos of the music of the Proclaimers onto the stage through Stephen Greenhorn’s script. So too, Alan Wilkins’ Carthage Must be Destroyed, a take on the ancient world with uncanny resonances with contemporary parliamentary politics represented the bringing to fruition of a talent long nurtured at the Traverse, which added David Greig’s Damascus, a witty examination of the geopolitical dilemmas of the contemporary Middle East, to its portfolio of new writing this year. Meanwhile, Stellar Quines was touring Scotland with another bleak political allegory in the shape of Torben Bett’s brilliant agit prop satire about a family in the middle of a new English revolution, The Unconquered. Added to Communicado’s tour of Fergus Lamont, featuring a CATS award winning performance from Sandy Grierson, there was enough evidence of a strong touring theatre in Scotland to encourage the bleakest observer.

Touring, too was a strongpoint for the NTS, which moved both a new piece about the trial of a couple guilty of murdering their children, Aalst, and brilliant revivals of both The Wonderful World of Dissocia and Molly Sweeney throughout Scotland over the year. Their contribution, too, to the mounting of Dominic Hill’s astonishing production of Peer Gynt should not be forgotten. In dance, Alvin Ailey’s superb mix of contemporary and classical dance, overspread with African American flavour made for a spellbinding night, while the Breakin’ Convention hip hop fest made for a vigorously modern engagement with the traditions of dance. (Steve Cramer)

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