2017 Glasgow Theatre Throwbacks

In 2017 I consumed the most theatre, of any 12-month period of my life. Three ballets, three dramas, two pantos and one musical. This is less impressive considering I joined the marketing team of Motherwell Theatre, where assessing the competition is all part of the job. So here’s a look at my rated and slated productions, starting with the best…

Faithful Ruslan

Michael Glenny and Helena Kaut-Howson’s adaptation of Georgi Vladimov’s novel
The Citizen’s Theatre Glasgow

  • Rating: 10/10
  • Story: A Soviet guard dog’s life takes a strange turn when his prison camp is liberated and he is made redundant; a haunting tale of unhealthy love.
  • Best bit: Movement director Marcello Magni’s work with star Hunter Bishop to mimic perfectly a guard dog’s inclinations.
  • Worst bit: The second act, which was slow and left nothing to the imagination.

Blood Brothers

Bill Kenwright Production
The Kings Theatre

  • Rating: 9/10
  • Story: In depression-hit Liverpool, twin brothers are separated at birth, before being tragically reunited in a bittersweet tale of social injustice.
  • Best bit: Willy Russell’s comic writing teamed with Kelvin Towse’s musical direction makes light work a heavy topic.
  • Worst bit: The cast’s accents – particularly when playing children – were grating.

Hansel and Gretel

Scottish Ballet Production
The Theatre Royal Glasgow

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Story: It’s WWII in the UK and two ration restricted kids seek sweet treats in town, unaware of the dangers; a refreshing retelling of a classic.
  • Best bit: Christopher Hampson’s dapper 1940s costumes and Caroline Palmer’s ballroom inspired choreography.
  • Worst bit: The second act when the WWII theme was abandoned and the set/ costumes reverted to 17C fairy tale.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Rapture Theatre Production
Motherwell Theatre

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Story: In 1960s America, couple Martha and George verbally spar during after-party drinks with their new colleagues; in this tale of everyday lies.
  • Best bit: Robin Kingsland’s comic timing (as George) enlivens Albee’s deadpan humour.
  • Worst bit: The plot is 90% dialogue, which does make it drag a bit.

Jack and the Beanstalk

Spillers Pantomimes Production
Motherwell Theatre

  • Rating: 8/10
  • Story: Merryville (17C Scottish pantoland) is plagued by an evil giant so it’s up to Jack and the gang to slay him, in this all singing all dancing panto.
  • Best bit: The vocals and moves from all the cast, particularly Jack (Craig Anthony Ralston) far surpassed other regional pantos.
  • Worst bit: The plot was, at times, over-narrated.

Ghost Dances

Rambert Production
The Theatre Royal Glasgow

  • Rating: 7/10
  • Story: A group of dances on love, life, and death, which climaxes in Ghost Dances – the tale of violence and political oppression in Central America.
  • Best bit: Miguel Altunaga’s dancing was a joy to watch.
  • Worst bit: The random combination of stories, such as a modern retelling of Macbeth, which clashed with the central theme of Ghost Dances.

The Red Shoes

Matthew Bourne Production
The Kings Theatre

  • Rating: 7/10
  • Story: A ballet about a film about a fairy tale; in which a prima ballerina chooses her lover over the musical director who dislikes him; meaning she loses out on great parts, before her redemption is offered to her in the lead part of the Red Shoes film.
  • Best bit: Lez Brotherston’s costume and set design is ingenious, working with stage borders, which spin around to indicate if the theatre audience are seeing the cast acting ‘off stage’, in studio or on the film set.
  • Worst bit: The lack of online synopsis left the audience guessing whether they were booking a ballet based around the film or the fairy tale.

A Christmas Carol

Cumbernauld Theatre Production
Cumbernauld Theatre

  • Rating: 6/10
  • Story: The Dickensian time travel tale is adapted to reflect 21C world crisis, in this touching panto.
  • Best bit: Paper puppetry used to show Scrooge the 21C problems like climate change that lay in the world’s future.
  • Worst bit: The marketing of the panto for children was inconsistent with its adult format (with few songs and jokes).

Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland

Play Pie and a Pint Production
Oran Mor Theatre

  • Rating: 5/10
  • Story: Ivan is a Scottish author suffering from writers’ block; unable to think of anything else he retells the story of his mother’s death from cancer, in this one-man play.
  • Best bit: Stephen Clyde provided a heart-warming portrayal of Ivan’s elderly mother, the typical wee Glasgow woman.
  • Worst bit: Ian Pattison’s writing lacked the dark humour that usually lifts such grim topics.

So that’s my year as a theatre goer! How was yours?

Have you seen these productions and heartily agree or think I’ve got it all wrong? Comment below and let me know…