Theatre, Reviews, Mark Fisher

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Jackie and the Beanstalk

7 Dec 20114 stars

Johnny McKnight's panto manages to entertain while challenging traditional gender roles

According to panto dame Dott Von Trott, things have got so bad in the austerity-stricken pantosphere that ‘parents in Bridge of Allan have started firing their nannies and learning their own kids’ names’. Serious times indeed, and there’s something…

One Thousand and One Nights

22 Aug 20114 stars

Flagship EIF production feels like a rediscovery of a lost classic

There’s a tremendous life force pulsating through director Tim Supple’s reclamation of these ancient folk tales. It’s a life force that exists, most palpably, for Houda Echouafni’s Shahrazad, whose survival depends on her ability to spin a yarn and…

(g)Host City

18 Aug 20113 stars

Edinburgh audio tours from spoken word performers

First thing in the morning, I’m standing on top of Calton Hill looking out to Arthur’s Seat, Princes Street and the Pentlands. It’s a view I never tire of, but on my headphones Jenny Lindsay is giving a different message. ‘Edinburgh, you old tart,…


17 Aug 20113 stars

Death becomes the Pachamamas

It’s always tricky to deal with grief on stage. By its nature, it is an emotion that comes after the fact, making an audience feel it has missed out on the main event. It cannot be resolved in the way any other dramatic conflict is resolved. This…


17 Aug 20112 stars

Tough play with the meaning stressed out

Howard Barker is a playwright loved by academics for the challenges thrown down by his knotty ‘theatre of catastrophe’ and by actors for the chance to get their tongues round his muscular language. His writing is tough, poetic and…

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The Golden Dragon

12 Aug 20113 stars

Global stories to take away

Roland Schimmelpfennig’s 2009 play, a bit hit in Germany, is a gift for a director. His characters are blank canvases with names such as ‘The Young Woman’ and ‘The Man Over 60’. Much of their dialogue is written in the third person, stage directions…


11 Aug 20114 stars

Sweetly observed play taking place on a real allotment with free cup of tea

Whatever happens to Dora and Maddy, the chalk-and-chips sisters at the heart of Jules Horne’s sweetly observed play, you know they will be outlived by their surroundings. The soil beneath their feet, the weeds that have persisted for millions of years…


8 Aug 20114 stars

Group hugs, cult chants and it’s all your fault

Back with three new immersive scenarios after causing a stir last year, the 101 team show just how compelling theatre can be with the most elementary of resources. No special effects, no set, scarcely anything you’d call a costume and yet the young…


8 Aug 20114 stars

Moving story of a flight from persecution

The last time Douglas Rintoul was in Scotland was to direct a revival of David Greig’s Europe at Dundee Rep. There’s something of the flavour of that migratory play in this powerful production for the internationally minded Transport company, as actor…

Man of Valour

8 Aug 20112 stars

Mime and punishment

Haven’t we been through this before? Wasn’t it some time in the 1970s we stopped being dazzled by mime artists? Didn’t we pretty quickly realise the means of telling a story are never as interesting as the story itself? It seems not in the case of…

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The One Man Show

5 Aug 20113 stars

Late-night high-tech deconstruction with Jaffa Cakes

So post-modern it hurts, The One Man Show is a piece of theatre about watching a piece of theatre. It has a mysterious start, a set of emotional states, a philosophical moment where we cough and eat sweets, a cheesy musical interlude and a point when we…

Sea and Land and Sky historically unconvincing despite wartime diary source

27 Oct 20102 stars

Pretty speeches have little narrative momentum

‘The only thing that scares us is a dying child,’ says Carmen Pieraccini as Lily, a Scottish nurse facing a burning village on the World War II frontline. It is an image of wartime heroism we are not used to seeing. In Abigail Docherty’s play, winner of…

Porgy and Bess

22 Aug 20103 stars

French company take Porgy and Bess to the Deep South

When Opera de Lyon’s Porgy and Bess is remembered, it will be for the extraordinary multimedia staging by the directorial double-act of Jose Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu. It isn’t only that we get 50-odd performers on stage - the dancers giving it…

Primary School Musical

17 Dec 20094 stars

Fed up with the me-me-me narcissism of High School Musical? Hankering for the chutzpah of Bugsy Malone? Longing to see a song-and-dance show that has a built-in call to political action? Well, the opportunity is here with Primary School Musical, a…

The Silver Darlings

3 Sep 20093 stars

There’s something cinematic about Kenny Ireland’s staging of the Neil M Gunn novel, adapted here by Peter Arnott. It’s in the sepia photographs of crofts, brochs and cliffs that form a backdrop to Hayden Griffin’s open set of layered coastal rock. It’s…

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If That’s All There Is

24 Aug 20093 stars

Cynical piece of work

Less a play than a series of sketches, this show created by Inspector Sands is about a couple of maladjusted professionals approaching their wedding day. Wittily staged, it has some good gags about the bureaucratic mindset, but it is ultimately a…

The Doubtful Guest

20 Aug 20093 stars

The Gorey details

That Hoipolloi’s staging of the Edward Gorey fable is entertainingly done is without question. It is not only an adaptation of this story about a pointy-faced creature in white canvas shoes who takes residence in a grand country mansion, but also an…

East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House

13 Aug 20093 stars

Three storeys of NYC stories

Edgar Oliver will not be the only actor taking on the Everyman persona this August. Like innumerable stand-up comics and solo performers, he presents himself as the still centre of a chaotic world. By identifying with him, we can share his strange…


12 Aug 20092 stars

An inability to see the potential in a great idea

There’s a great idea behind Tim Nunn’s new play for Glasgow’s Reeling & Writhing about the army’s use of humour to interrogate suspects. Instead of tackling the clash of comedy and combat head on, however, the playwright gets distracted by his…

The Hotel

10 Aug 20095 stars

The suite smell of success

If Punchdrunk, the fashionable London site-specific theatre company, gave the job of artistic director to Arthur Smith, the comedic genius behind the Fringe’s Arturart exhibitions, the results would look a lot like The Hotel. Throw in a touch of Fawlty…

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Beachy Head

10 Aug 20093 stars

Suicide brings on many changes

Like its predecessor, Mile End, Analogue’s Beachy Head is as much about the way the story is told as it is about the story itself. No scene goes by without a screen being wheeled on, a video camera being focused or an actor tottering in front of a…

Sea Wall

8 Aug 20094 stars

Pray silence for an exquisite performance

Alex does not voice the cruellest words he ever spoke. We don’t actually hear the dreadful phrase he utters to his father-in-law. But we can imagine it. Playwright Simon Stephens is too subtle a craftsman to allow his central character to blurt it out…

The Ducky

14 May 20094 stars

Douglas Maxwell better watch out. Until last year the playwright had cornered the market in whimsical comedies about Ayrshire teenagers. Then along came DC Jackson with The Wall – in which a gang of Stewarton youngsters crossed the threshold from…

After Mary Rose

30 Apr 20093 stars

Collaborating with director Nicholas Bone of Magnetic North, playwright D Jones has given JM Barrie’s 1920 ghost story Mary Rose a dust down so it has less of the creaky haunted house about it and more of the privations of war. But in structure and…

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

11 Dec 20083 stars

ADAPTATION If you’re in doubt about the Christian allegory lurking behind the Narnian fantasy of CS Lewis, just look at the treatment meted out to Daniel Williams as Aslan in this stage adaptation. Relinquishing power to Meg Fraser’s scarily…