Previous month:
December 2012
Next month:
February 2013

January 2013

Review: So Great A Crime at the Finborough Theatre

SoGreatACrime_600-300x200I have two problems with David Gooderson's play So Great A Crime, which is a shame because at the end it nearly moved me to tears.

It is the story of Sir Hector 'Fighting Mac' Macdonald, born a Highland crofter's son who worked his way up through the ranks of the army, distinguishing himself in battle, only to commit suicide when accused of inappropriate behaviour with young boys.

My first problem is choppiness of the first half, lots of short scenes interjected with some random moments such as when one of the actors playing multiple parts pretends to forget which character he is playing breaking the fourth wall.

There is also a random song where the words of a familiar hymn are changed to reflect people's feelings about Mac. It is an unnecessary distraction from an otherwise fascinating and moving story that doesn't really come into its own until the scenes get longer in the latter stages of the second half.

My second problem relates to how the story is offered up. On the the back of the programme, the piece is described as "a fascinating journey into an unsolved historical mystery" which would be great if Gooderson didn't leave you in any doubt as to what he thinks happened. I kept waiting for a hint of conflicting evidence but none came.

Mac's story, as told by Gooderson is a tragic tale of class snobbery and pride painted as a mystery and as such it doesn't always work.  That said, I could have listened to Stuart McGugan, soft lilting Scottish accent all evening.

So Great A Crime runs at the Finborough Theatre on selected dates until January 22.




Overruled @orltheatre: First play review of the year, was it a goodie?

197a64bf01e1fbb07fc18b1df640cbcc_w270_h225_scThe Old Red Lion in Angel is among a handful of pub theatres in London that punches above it weight. Mercury Fur last year featured on my favourite plays of 2012 list and transferred to the Trafalgar Studios so expectations for the latest offering, a trio of short plays by George Bernard Shaw were high.

Love and marriage connects the three plays thematically with Shaw taking a mischievously satirical stance.

In the first play, How He Lied To Her Husband, a wife's affair with a young lover has been exposed by her husband's discovery of his rivals love poems but his reaction isn't quite what you'd expect. The second, Overruled, continues in a similar vein and also involves the discovery of an affair but deals more with the practicalities of marriage vs the sentiment.

Village Wooing, the final play, sees a shift, examining the reasons to marry through a chance encounter on a cruise ship.

The joy of these Shaw plays is in how he looks at things askew, turning the tables on common perceptions and stereotypes. His women are generally level-headed and practical when it comes to love and marriage while the men are passionate beasts ruled by their emotions, easily ruffled and possessive.

Continue reading "Overruled @orltheatre: First play review of the year, was it a goodie? " »

Rev Stan's theatre best and worst of 2012

Usain-Bolt-has-lost-all-respect-for-Carl-Lewis-TO21ONR9-x-largeIt was a Jubilee Year, an Olympic year but while all eyes were on the Queen and the lycra wearing athletes I was quietly breaking my annual record with 109 theatre trips. So which were the gold medal winners which took home the booby prizes?

Well it's been a good year for the National Theatre and in particular the Lyttleton which, perversely, is one of my least favourite theatres. And I have to say it's been quite difficult narrowing it down as you can tell from the rather long highly commended list. The flip side is it feels like there has been more obvious stinkers this year although I've only listed the three worst to spare blushes.

The Usain Bolt of my theatre going year was easy: Curious Incident at the Cottesloe. It was a superb and imaginative adaptation of a much loved booked so convincingly performed I saw it twice and might be tempted to give it a third look when it transfers to the West End in the Spring. Here is the full list:

Continue reading "Rev Stan's theatre best and worst of 2012" »

In which Stan goes to a musical, sort of: Privates on Parade

Russell-beale-privates-010This year's New Year's Eve theatre outing was a little different to last year's. Firstly there was the rendition of Auld Lang Syne with he cast at the curtain call (can now say I did Auld Lang Syne with Simon Russell Beale) and it was a musical or rather there were a lot of songs, the same number as you'd have in a musical, Poly said.

I knew there were songs in Privates on Parade, a lot of people told me there were songs but I didn't realise quite how many.

One or two I liked the rest I would have fast forwarded through, I just think they get in the way of the story - but I'm not going to digress into my 'why I don't like musicals' explanation.

Privates on Parade is a good story mixing humour and japes with hints of insight into the harsh realities of a post war, dying colonial empire, racism and homophobia in a changing world.

In a different play, a play without so many songs these topics would perhaps be explored more but Privates on Parade is a play with songs centred on a group of soldiers whose primary duty is entertainment. They travel around post World War II Singapore and Malaysia entertaining the troops still stationed there, putting on camp shows, cross-dressing a duty (for some) as there is only one woman in their group.

Continue reading "In which Stan goes to a musical, sort of: Privates on Parade" »