The Art School, 7th March 2017
This performance is one of paradoxes so stark I am left speechless and puzzling. Both intimate and public, grotesque and beautiful, painful and inspiring. Nando Messias manages to effectively erase the boundaries of gender, performativity and agency.
Dir. Douglas Rintoul, Theatre Royal, 12th – 17th June
It’s common knowledge that Arthur Miller’s The Crucible was intended to draw obvious parallels between the mania of the 1692 Salem witch hunt featured in the play and the paranoia of McCarthy-era America. Hunting for fictional witches and hunting for would-be Communists amounts to pretty much the same thing: displaced terror and unnecessary disruption. But politicised theatre has a habit of remaining relevant for long after its envisioned lifespan, and as director Douglas Rintoul states, ‘there’s a palpable sense that this 1950s play is for now’. It’s clear that in their recent performance of The Crucible, Selladoor Productions are intent on creating another analogy: between the terrified, socially anxious, misogynistic society of colonial America and today’s skewed political climate. Reassuring, eh?
Dir. Julia Midtgard, Stereo, 5th – 7th June
Shopping and Fucking. That’s the title of Mark Ravenhill’s 1996 play, and it’s one guaranteed to weed out the faint-hearted among us. It’s a name that might leave anyone of a prudish disposition hovering outside the box office, unsure of how to proceed. ‘Can I have tickets for Shopping and… Shopping and Fu– oh, never mind’, you can practically hear someone spluttering before turning away and heading off home, ticketless. Shopping and Fucking isn’t for the easily perturbed. It’s that provocative.
Dir. Matthew Bourne, King’s Theatre, 8th – 10th June
Matthew Bourne’s latest offering, The Red Shoes, is a real visual and imaginative treat. Based on the acclaimed 1948 British film starring Moira Shearer, which itself draws heavily upon and features a ballet adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s ominous fairy tale ‘The Red Shoes’, it’s certainly a ballet with a lot of intertextual influences.
Dir. Julia Midtgard, The Old Hairdressers, 1st-2nd June
If in-yer-face theatre is ‘the kind of theatre which grabs the audience by the scruff of the neck and shakes it until it gets the message’, then Anthony Neilson’s Penetrator performed by Fear No Colours Theatre leaves the audience and their neck scruffs well and truly shook. However, as for the translation of a message, the play explores the hypermasculinity and aggressive sexuality masking subdued desire which penetrates the lives of the play’s three characters: Max, Alan, and Tadge. Yet despite this expedition into masculinity, the writing at times collapses into what feels like one elongated, homophobic rape joke.
Dir. by Cameryn Moore, Rum Shack, 15th May 2015
Down in the basement of Rum Shack a crowd gathered to tell, hear and share their sexiest stories. The creator Cameryn Moore, a previous phone sex operator, compared the evening. The rules of Smut Slam were simple and designed to foster a friendly, sex positive environment. The evening was marked by an exclusion of phobias (such as homophobia or transphobia), an openness to every experience no matter how kinky or vanilla and an emphasis on all stories being consensual. The most crucial rule which makes this review hard to write is that no stories are to be retold outside of the room.
Dir. Alan McKendrick, Tron Theatre, 24th May. Rehearsed Reading.
It’s always unfortunate when the most interesting thing about a show is its name. Cadaver Police in the Electrocution Afterlife couldn’t not sound promising, and yet the actual performance narrowly misses the mark, despite putting forward an initially intriguing concept. The show tells the story of a dysfunctional punk band (Cadaver Police) caught in an increasingly nightmarish cycle of self-destruction and selling out. Two deadpan narrators attempt to inject dry wit into a script that is frustratingly long-winded and needs some heavy editing, while a trio of rock musicians – Glasgow’s own Smack Wizards – provide a thundering live soundtrack and are in many ways the show’s saving grace.