THEATRE | Reviews 84 THE LIST 3 Sep–5 Nov 2015
ADAPTATION LANARK Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Thu 3–Sat 19 Sep. Reviewed at Royal Lyceum Theatre, at the Edinburgh International Festival ●●●●●
Long held to be an unstageable piece of work, Alasdair Gray’s novel Lanark, originally published in 1981 after nearly 30 years in the making, arrives at the Royal Lyceum Theatre with the great weight of expectation on its shoulders. Nearly 600 pages long, bringing this cult classic to life is an ambitious undertaking. Yet what has been produced is a bold, bonkers and brilliant production that should please even the most die-hard of Gray fans. Comprising three acts – arranged in the order of two,
one and three – and set in the disintegrating cites of Unthank and Glasgow, we follow the interwoven stories of Lanark and Duncan, as we journey through youth, death and the afterlife in the fantastical imagination of Alasdair Gray.
Directed by Graham Eatough from an adaptation by David Greig, Lanark is loud, large and visually stunning, from dragons to hellish clubs and nightmarish worlds.
Backed up by a tremendous cast, with Sandy Grierson excelling at the centre of it all as the lead character, the laughs come in thick and fast. Yet the show never loses its darker edge or deviates from its larger core themes.
The production does run for nearly four hours, which may be a bit much for some people – though there are two intervals which will ease the pressure on weary bottoms. However, time passes very quickly thanks to the dazzling entertainment before our eyes. Wildly surreal and beautifully executed, the staging of Lanark appears to be a risk that’s paid off. (Alex Eades)
ADAPTATION OUR LADIES OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 8–Sat 12 Sep; The Brunton, Musselburgh, Fri 25–Sat 26 Sep. Reviewed at Traverse Theatre, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe ●●●●●
Based on Alan Warner’s excellent novel, The Sopranos, this new production from the National Theatre of Scotland and Newcastle’s Live Theatre has an electric energy to it. That’s largely thanks to the all-female cast, who sing with the youthful carefree abandon of their characters: six Catholic schoolgirls from Oban, who visit Edinburgh for a school choir contest and duly go wild. In the language it uses, it’s an uncompromising adaptation. Some of the play’s best lines are delivered in such thick Scots that non-locals might find more than a few jokes pass them by. But in refusing to alter the broad patter of Warner’s voices, writer Lee Hall not only preserves the story’s locality but also its universality – these girls are loud, crude, endearing and utterly recognisable. As we follow their epic bender, Our Ladies is soundtracked by a mix of live renditions of popular and choral music and a live band on stage adds to the party atmosphere.
But while it’s gleeful, it’s certainly no angelic musical. Hall’s script is rude, crude and everything in between, and revels in its dirtiness – so keep away if expertly timed swearing isn’t your idea of fun. Directed by former NTS (now Royal Court) artistic director Vicky Featherstone, the pace is slick throughout but the opening scene is particularly fantastic – maybe the funniest of the year so far. While the ending meanders a little, Our Ladies is a glorious piece of theatre and a poignant comedy about growing up and breaking free. (Yasmin Sulaiman)
NEW WORK SPECTRETOWN Platform, Glasgow, Thu 10 Sep; The Brunton, Musselburgh, Sat 12 Sep. Reviewed at Assembly Hall, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe ●●●●●
We are all haunted by ghosts of the past. In SpectreTown, they become more vivid than ever. This dark and sinister play set in rural Scotland defies the time-space continuum: it begins with a young couple Dodie (Mark Wood) and Meg (Elspeth Turner, also writer and artistic director) being caught up in social conflicts and struggles for power, before arriving in the present, where their tragedy is still felt and very much alive.
Now, the secrets of that story are kept by an old-woman Izzy (Bridget McCann) in a chest. But until it is unlocked, it’s completely up to the audience to figure out how both narratives intertwine. Performed entirely in Doric, SpectreTown is an incredibly well-written and produced piece, with the shifts in time beautifully enhanced by lighting effects. It is mentally challenging, visually stimulating – ghost shadows often state their presence in the background – and musically compelling, with live music from Matt Regan empowering the script. Sometimes, however, the excessive use of sound effects distract from the main dialogue.
Founded by Elspeth Turner, Scottish theatre company Stoirm Òg has been trying to find its
place at the Fringe (they brought The Idiot at the Wall in 2012), but this work expresses a grand ambition. A play is worth watching when it gets you emotionally involved, when you’re drawn into its universe and the story makes you rethink life. SpectreTown has all that. (Carolina Morais)
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