Dir. Phillip Breen, Citizens Theatre, 3-20 May
Although Travels With My Aunt might be one of Graham Greene’s lesser-known novels, the tale – which follows retired bank manager Henry Pulling as he joins his elderly Aunt Augusta on a string of extravagant adventures – has certainly proved successful in its theatrical incarnation. Adapted by Giles Havergal, the play was first showcased at the Citizens’ Theatre in 1989 and went on to scoop a coveted Olivier Award.
Dir, Noël Coward, Citizens Theatre, 5th-22nd April
The best word I can find to describe Hay Fever, directed by Noël Coward, is ‘good’. It contains all of the necessary parts to make for an incredibly production, it ticks all of the necessary boxes, but put together it lacks something essential to pull it all together. Thus some scenes are brilliant and have the theatre echoeing with laughter, whilst other scenes seem to fall flat.
Dir. Dominic Hill, Citizens Theatre, 6th Dec – 7th Jan
Those who venture out to the Citizens theatre can be sure to be surprised, as Dominic Hill, director of Hansel and Gretel, has added some interesting twists to the traditional tale. Taking inspiration from numerous different sources he has introduced an enchanting, though slightly disjointed, subplot. Alongside the traditional cast of Hansel (Shaun Miller), Gretel (Karen Fishwick), their father, their mother and the witch, Hill has made space for a whole new cast. He introduces us to a troop of manic circus performers, an ancient fairy king and his naïve son, the fairy prince.
Citizens Young Co, Citizens Theatre, 12 – 14 May
Organised as a comic accompaniment to the tragic trilogy of This Restless House, The Birds certainly delivers on the comic relief front. And more. As a contemporary adaptation of Aristophanes’ longest surviving play, Stephen Greenhorn’s play is a warm, saucy comedy filled with laughter and performed with a great comedic air.
Performed in the Citizen’s cosy Circle Studio, the play opens with the actors debating who will play which role on a feather-strewn stage. This progresses into a continued change of actors playing the roles of Pisthetaerus and Euelpides – the play’s protagonists – disillusioned with the state of Athenian politics and hoping to join the Hopoe in the kingdom of the birds. The character-swapping that later occurs keeps the story fresh, and also keeps the characters engaging by allowing different members of the cast to emphasise different aspects of the characters they depict.
Greenhorn’s comedy, laced with innuendo, provided mirthful laughter throughout the night and was fluidly performed by the Citizen’s young actors. The jokes, accompanied by song, prevent the play from steering too far into the political – for which the Athens of the play is continually ridiculed. The music throughout the play strikes a perfect balance between the plot-driving and the melodic with both rousingly catchy full-cast numbers, and interludes of the sweet-voiced character of the nightingale.
The second act begins with birds squawking at audience members as they file back into the studio, throwing the audience back into the drama that had been mounting prior to the interval. The protagonists, now evolved to join the birds, lead their fellow species into an attempted overthrow of the traditional Greek gods. This spirals into a complicated and convoluted exposition of the hierarchy of the kingdoms. Eventually, the birds realise that even the gods above them are not the uppermost height of authority, and their plan to rule over all comes crashing down, melting into a hopeful song declaring the bright future for the Kingdom of the birds.
Overall, the Citizen’s Young Co. provided a gleeful night for their audience; one full of laughter, and a reminder that even a play that saw its biggest success in 414BC can bring joy to an audience nowadays.
Image – Citizen’s Young Co.
Dir. Jeremy Herrin, Citizens Theatre, 20 May – 4 June
Both in the modern world and in the artistic world, it has become less common to find celebrations of war. The defeat of Hitler in WWII might be considered Britain’s finest hour, but more recent bloody excursions have raised eyebrows and questions about criminality rather than engendering a gung-ho attitude that promised to make heroes out of those who give the ultimate sacrifice.
Gary McNair, Citizens Theatre, 20 – 21 May 2016
Gary McNair’s play ‘Donald Robertson is not a stand-up comedian’ blurs the boundary between theatre and stand-up comedy, fusing the practice of story telling with stand-up.
Prior to the writing of his piece, McNair studied the stand-up comedy world, saying; “I knew that I couldn’t write this show unless I knew what it was like to go up there armed with nothing but a microphone and my pre-prepared jokes.” His resulting work is a self- reflexive deconstruction of the craft, or rather, a piss-taking polemic against stand-up comedy.
In Collaboration with Glasgow International Comedy Festival
Citizens Theatre, 17th March 2016
His twelfth show in as many years, Happy Now?, shows that Richard Herring as finely honed the art of performing standup, but has ceased to be an innovator in it. Herring’s new show asks whether the happiness he’s achieved after finding love and having a daughter is really satisfying and if it’s stifled his creativity, the answer to the former being yes, and going from the show’s content, the latter is also a yes.