The best theatre to see in Scotland this autumn

From Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Playhouse to Britain's Got Bhangra at the King's Theatre

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This article is from 2015.

The best theatre to see in Scotland this autumn

credit: Paul Coltas

Alongside the Lyceum's anniversary year, the autumn seasons in both Glasgow and Edinburgh – not to mention Dundee – reveal the wide range of theatre that exists beyond the Fringe. From lavish musical adaptations to experimental live art – via the revival of a seminal Scottish script – September and October have something for most tastes.

For the spectacular, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels comes to Edinburgh Playhouse (15–19 Sep). Based on the film with Michael Caine, it stars Michael Praed, best remembered in Robin of Sherwood, and adds a swinging soundtrack to the story of two con-men at large on the French Riviera. Despite memories of his role as ITV's mystical medieval outlaw, Praed shows tremendous comic skills and the songs evoke the 1950s before rock'n'roll changed the world and Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr were still idols.

With the Whitney Houston film The Bodyguard arriving at Edinburgh Playhouse (29 Sep–10 Oct) in musical-theatre form and Shrek touring, film adaptations seems set to take over from the jukebox musical. Glasgow has a revival of Britain's Got Bhangra, first produced in 2011 and now given a new version by Sell a Door Theatre, a company which is restless in its enthusiasm for all sorts of scripts, and recently ran an entire venue during the Edinburgh Fringe.

David Hutchinson, Sell a Door Theatre's artistic director, is keen that the show will 'reach out to new and returning audiences'. Unlike many musicals, Britain's Got Bhangra reflects the UK’s cultural diversity. 'The writers have created a fantastic celebration of dance and culture within the modern narrative of a talented artist aspiring to fulfil their dreams,’ notes Hutchinson. ‘In the reality TV age, this story taps into the aspirations of so many, against the colourful backdrop of the British-Asian community.'

On a smaller scale, Peter Arnott is presenting his new script, Ensemble, in a series of readings across Scotland from late September. Looking at the effects on theatre-making in East Germany during the communist era, it asks pertinent questions about the relationships between creativity and control, and how a community can develop in adversity. Given the arts' obsession with 'community orientation' – which can often be an attempt to impress funders than develop a group of people who have a meaningful connection – Ensemble might be a challenge to simplistic thinking about theatre and politics.

It's a bold move by Dundee Rep to revive The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black, Black Oil (9–26 Sep) as 7:84's production is an iconic script and film that inspired a generation of writers. Harshly condemning the destruction of the Scottish countryside, and its communities, The Cheviot was the first 'ceilidh play' that went out into rural communities and a new production will have to confront its massive influence.

Aby Watson's There’s no point crying over spilt milk at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre (14–17 Oct) has graduated from earlier incarnations at The Arches, and is perhaps as far away from the grandeur of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels as you can get. A meditation on childhood, with live music and a subtle glance at how memories shift with time, this piece is a duet for performer and musician that leaves a melancholic feeling and a sense of how childhood delight and fear are tamed by maturity.

This article is from 2015.

The Bodyguard

  • Directed by: Thea Sharrock
  • Written by: Alex Dinelaris (book)

Musical adaptation for the stage of the 1992 film which featured Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston.

Dominion Theatre, London W1T

Sat 10 Dec

£31.25–£248.75 / 0844 847 1775

Mon 12 Dec

£31.25–£248.75 / 0844 847 1775

Tue 13 Dec

£31.25–£248.75 / 0844 847 1775

…and 22 more dates until 7 Jan 2017

Shrek the Musical

  • Directed by: Nigel Harman
  • Written by: David Lindsay-Abaire (lyrics)

An all-singing, all-dancing stage version of the popular films, packed with laughs and the odd tear.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

  • Directed by: Jerry Mitchell
  • Written by: lyrics)

Touring version of the West End production that featured Robert Lindsay and Rufus Hound, based on the 1989 film.

Britain's Got Bhangra

  • Directed by: Andy Kumar (choreographer)
  • Written by: Dougla Irvine (lyrics)

Rifco Arts presents a musical which traces the evolution of British bhangra through the shifting fortunes of Twinkle, a 1980s star. Written and directed by Pravesh Kumar.

Ensemble

It’s January 1990 in a provincial East German theatre. This is a time between things, between the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification, a time when no one knows the rules. As the theatre practitioners try out material for their new show, old wars, suspicions and accusations rise to the surface. Peter Arnott's play…

There's no point crying over spilt milk

Juxtaposition of childhood glee and the harsh realities of adulthood. Created by Aby Watson with Alexander Horowitz.

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil

John McGrath's 1973 play The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black Black Oil is one of the landmarks in Scottish theatre. It tells the story of economic change in the Scottish highlands and it challenges its audience to rethink the stories they had been told about their own history.

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