Friday, 17 April 2015

Review: Our Country's Good at Curve.


The original production of Timberlake Wertenbaker's play, 'Our Country's Good' opened at London's Royal Court Theatre in September 1988, some weeks after their production of George Farquhar's Restoration comedy, 'The Recruiting Officer'. During the runs audiences had a chance to see the same cast in each production directed by Max Stafford – Clark. Wertenbaker's play was workshopped with the original cast and director for historical accuracy, content and script development using the novel The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally as a strong inspiration. For research Wertenbaker and Stafford-Clark attended a play performed by prisoners at Wormwood Scrubs prison and were impressed by the serious dedication to the work by the prisoners and this observation fed into the emotional backbone of the eventual play.

The workshopping methods utilised by Stafford – Clark and his creative team became known as the Joint Stock method of play writing and script/story development. This is due to Max Stafford Clark's artistic tenure at the Joint Stock Theatre Company. The actors there were always encouraged to 'own' the play through their ideas and work in the development of the play script.

During rehearsals Max Stafford- Clark wrote a seminal book called 'Letters to George' which contains his almost daily thoughts on the rehearsals of both 'The Recruiting Officer' and 'Our Country's Good' as they developed and rehearsed. The so called 'letters' were addressed to the long dead playwright George Farquhar and throughout the writing the man from 1988 instructs the man from 1706 on the changes in taste, theatrical fashion and social behaviour which have overtaken the play. He also informs George on the usage of 'The Recruiting Officer' as a play within the play of 'Our Country's Good'. Historically, Farquhar's 'The Recruiting Officer' was the first play to be performed on Australian soil and was performed not by professional actors of the day but by convicts in the penal colony.

The play has received a variety of awards including a Laurence Olivier Award in 1988 and a Tony Award in 1991. Throughout its history to date many 'Our Country's Good' actors worldwide have been given critical acclaim and the play is very popular with audiences and young adult performers because of the compelling themes of sexuality, cruelty and punishment and the proposed idea that it is possible for theatre to be a humanising force. The play is also used as a set text for Advanced level Theatre Studies and also as a set text at AS level in English Literature Studies.



The production at Curve Leicester is directed by professional director Nikoli Foster collaborating with a cast of talented students from De MontfortUniversity Leicester. The cast of sixteen (with necessary doubling) play over twenty characters ranging from Royal Marines, dispirited convicts, and members of the Georgian judicial system all set in a penal colony in New South Wales Australia. Curve have once again turned their studio space into an 'in the round' experience repeating the success in creating a tense atmosphere that was so prevalent in their professional production of Abigail's Party recently. Only this time the acting space is much bigger.



The main themes of the play are the hope for goodness to be brought out of the so called criminals and the idea that theatre can be an expression of civilisation and the enacting of it can lead people to see another side of themselves. It is also about the frustrations in achieving such ideals under dangerous and trying circumstances. The De Montfort University Leicester students do a sterling job in realising these endeavours on the Curve studio stage.



Even before the play begins we have an impression of a scorched land envisioned by a rough Hessian flooring that in certain lights sometimes looks like the sea shore after the tide has gone out. The production standards are very professional and the many emotional and literal locations are delineated by rapid light changes and incisive sound effects. There is a compelling pulse to the action on stage throughout the entire show and this immediacy benefits the telling of the story. The actors work as a well trained ensemble creatively inhabiting the space so well it is sometimes a shock to realise that one is watching non-professionals at work. Occasionally there are small issues with vocal audibility but nothing that detracts from the general high quality of the piece.

 

In a mixed sex cast of sixteen, playing twenty-two parts in total, some of the female cast play both sexes, those of the men and women prisoners and those of the male Royal Marines. It all works thunderingly well. Lily Shaw Morris as John Arscott and Second Lt William Faddy is particularly outstanding. Shaw Morris has a vitality about her that lights up the stage and her performance is witty and one of total engagement in the piece. The key female role of Liz Morden (Abigail Colebrook) is finely executed (excuse the dark pun) and her near redemption at the close of the play shows in every smiling muscle of her face.


This is a great piece of theatre for an ensemble and the acting standards from all the cast is outstanding. Showy roles can often be overdone but not in the case of Nick Read's Robert Sideway. His character is almost relentlessly positive and hugely enthusiastic about Sideway's notion of what it means to act or completely over act. Read's portrayal of his studied 'attitudes' from a bygone age of theatre is one of the funniest moments of the evening. It would be a great compliment to say that Read's work reminds me of a young Tom Courtney. As one of the few men that doubled up roles Corum Franklin shows great contrast in two characters that are equally hated and feared but from very different perspectives. Franklin is all objectionable bombast and vile spitting bluster as Major Robbie Ross and, conversely, becomes a caring and unwilling hangman in Ketch Freeman a man shunned by his convict contemporaries in the penal colony.

Chris Howitt as the often frustrated Second Lt Ralph Clark puts in a very mature and subtle performance as a man in charge of directing the production of 'The Recruiting Officer' and who has the added dilemma of romantic feelings towards one of the women prisoners. Thomas Carter as midshipman Harry Brewer particularly excels in his mad drunk scene on the moonlit beach haunted by ghosts. This scene is beautifully realised as a haunting circle of echoes from the directorial work of Nikoli Foster.

The show is technically very sharp and down to the combined efforts of the professional staff at Curve and the DMU student technical team. Through the artistic collaboration the students from all the theatrical disciplines have tremendous opportunities to develop opportunities to very practically learn about roles both on stage and off. As in Max Stafford-Clark's original production the actors totally 'owned' this classy production of 'Our Country's Good' at Curve and should be very proud of their achievement.



Review originally posted on The Public Reviews website 16th April 2015

Photography credit: Pamela Raith Photography.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

Review: Return to the Forbidden Plant. Curve Leicester

Review originally published on The Public Reviews website 8th April

For the 25th Anniversary tour the, Olivier awarding winning Best Musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet lands solidly on Leicester's Curve theatre main stage this week and takes off to huge applause. This fun sci fi show is packed with musical numbers from the 1950s and 1960s with the instruments all played live by the eleven strong cast of actors. Even before the show has begun the actors are out on the stage welcoming and chatting amongst the beaming audience. From the Return to the Forbidden Planet tee shirts in the audience it is clear that the show has a big fan base. As the high energy show launched into the first act and continued to rocket skywards you could see why.
 
 

The show always has a well known personality that is connected to space as Chorus – a pre filmed role – and this year it is Brian May Queen guitarist, music producer and Doctor of Astrophysics and May comes across well as the guide to the piece.

None of the roles are serious drama, more like pastiches of 1950s sci fi movies like the original classic Forbidden Planet. The acting is meant to be a mix of postured and over the top – the characters almost like walking talking and singing cartoon people and the story, tenuously linked with Shakespeare's The Tempest, is there to provide a narrative base for the songs and action. In director and creator Bob Carlton's musical the spoken dialogue is a mix of faux Shakespeare and actual Shakespeare quotes. It works amusingly well and the 'to be or not to be' gets the biggest laugh of the evening.



The internal space ship set design by Queen's Theatre Hornchurch associate designer Rodney Ford is a rock solid construction of steps and levels with enough bells and gadgets to satisfy any bad sci fi fan. It has an open roof through which we can see the stars and on coming wacky monsters. Additionally, the audience enjoy a deliberately corny effect of a space shuttle escaping the main ship into the blackened star lit cosmos. Ford first designed for Return to the Forbidden Planet at the Liverpool Everyman Theatre some thirty years ago and has also designed for many versions of the show in the UK and abroad. He is also credited as the costume designer.

The show is quite lengthy at two hours playing time but the time zips by quicker than a star ship hero can whip out his ray gun. The multi-talented cast play an amazing array of instruments between them including tenor and alto saxophone, clarinet, electric guitar, drums, flute, piano, oboe, bass, electric keyboard, harmonica, trumpet, trombone and even a cowbell!


The action is rapid pace augmented with songs to add musical depth to the story. All the cast are accomplished singers and wonderfully re-create the sounds of popular songs such as “A Teenager in Love” “Great Balls of Fire” (well what else do you sing as the space ship dodges through the asteroid belt?) and “Born to be Wild”. In total this toe tapping rock and roll soundtrack features twenty-seven hits.



Actor Sean Needham never lets up the comedy with his pipe smoking, square jawed space captain Captain Tempest and one of the highlights of the show is his rendition of “Young Girl” sung to the sweet and innocent Miranda played with a heart melting coyness by Sarah Scowen. Another relative youngster in the cast is Mark Newnham as Cookie the ship's hopeless romantic. Newnham's electric guitar solo is a show stopper and his acting as the lovable Cookie is tongue in cheek believable.

Jonathan Markwood excels as the crazy mad scientist Dr Prospero throughout and is powerful in his conjuring up of the space monster that attacks the ship before the interval. The audience recognise the extracts from King Lear as he whips up a storm of revenge and Mark Dymock's brilliant lighting design coupled with thundering footfalls of the monster coming closer (sound design by Ben Harrison) create real excitement and tension. Much hilarity is had from the 'clearly not real' big tentacles of the monster attacking the cast. This spoof monster is so like the old movies where the special effects were very poor and handmade compared to the CGI effects we enjoy today.

Of course the audience always look forward to seeing the robot character Ariel and although not on roller skates (guess the multiple steps rule that practicality out) Joseph Mann as Ariel does not disappoint. His character is not overly robotic but he works well in a lovable android way. Mann also has a superb singing voice as well as a great extra talent in fire breathing.

The female Science Officer played with gutsy effervescent by Christine Holman is a star turn in a play full of stars. Her energetic and sexy full on performance lights up the stage and although she appears to disappear and desert the ship by escaping in a space pod during the early asteroid storm she makes a surprising new entrance with Ariel later in the show.

There is so much to recommend in this silly science fiction show with its high energy, daft humour, campness and quadruple threat talents (acting, singing, dancing and live playing of musical instruments) and I would happily sit through the Queen's Theatre Hornchurch's version currently at Curve, again and again. It is no wonder it is loved through the world.

Tour details found HERE

Friday, 3 April 2015

Review Dust and Dreamtime. Derby Theatre Learning. Youth productions.


Derby Theatre Learning encourage practical application in the theatre arts and where better as a young person to learn than in a professional theatre. Each year two new performances are shown by the Derby Theatre youth theatre groups – one made up of the younger members and another by the older members. In a sense it is aspirant learning; both groups gaining valuable skills on stage that also lead to greater confidence in life and the younger group – in watching the older group's show – aspire and are inspired to improve. Not only are acting skills developed but also those of a directorial and technical side for those interested.

This year we have Dust by Sarah Daniels directed by Emma Waslin. The story of Dust concerns a school trip to the Globe Theatre in London which turns surreal when Flavia and her classmates are evacuated from the Underground. Flavia somehow gets lost from the group and ends up with a Tube train driver who drops her off at an unused station to make her own way to the surface. There is a large explosion and things take a funny turn as Flavia gets transported back in time to Roman times.



In her own 21st Century world Flavia (played beautifully by Holly Pridmore) is the victim of bullies at school and wants desperately to be part of their clique. In the Roman world she meets remarkably similar people but has the chance to learn how to deal with the world by defending herself and seeing the world in a different light. She has to gain courage even in the face of a wild lion. In her Roman journey she meets Queen Boudica, Centurions and Gladiators all played with gusto by the cast of twenty-four young actors.
 

Both shows are set in a semi-circle arena space with structural adaptations to suit each show. Each show also explores the lives of young people and their struggle to find their own voice.

Dust opens in the Underground with all the cast awaiting the next tube train. Throughout the piece good use is made of the casts group mime skills and non more so than in the full cast's amusing and frustrated reactions of tube trains shooting invisibly by. The sound effects ring true with added Underground station authenticity from a live saxophone player. When we reach the transformation to the Roman times there is a good atmosphere of period with the clothes and movement but I'm not overly sure about the modern language used by Boudica and The Romans. In saying so I do like the inclusion of short monologues historically referencing women who have changed the world.



There are some nice stand out performances including Tabitha Gresty as the aged Soothsayer and especially strong (as you'd expect and Amazon to be) was the portrayal of the Amazon Warrior by Jessica Kneale. Very gutsy and solid work. Reid Oliphant is really amusing as a cocky gladiator and both he and Kneale bring the production alive in their slow motion gladiatorial scene.



The most important thing in this production apart from dramatically and the entertainment value is what the young people are getting out of the experience. Just to quote a few; “It means a lot to me. I get the chance to grow and meet lots of new friends”, “building my confidence as an actor...”, “meeting friends with shared interests and doing what we enjoy best – acting”, “how to be more confident on stage and about the backbone of a theatre production”, “ that I get to meet new people and that I have had an opportunity to try and assist in directing”. If I was one of these kids parents I would be immensely proud.



The second production of the evening is from the older youth theatre students and the commitment shown in Dreamtime by Stacey Sampson and directed by Emma Waslin is very professional. The older group workshopped and improvised a number of potential scenes with characters they had created and worked with Stacey Sampson on the structure of the whole piece. After weeks of this collective script work the ideas were used and the script of Dreamtime evolved into a piece of theatre that had all of the older cast's names and ideas stamped on it as well as the professional writer. It shows in the quality of the work and the mature commitment to it.



Dreamtime draws upon a group of teenagers that gather together in an underground car park to share experiences and work our their emotional feelings in order to find common comfort and consolation. This is done in a very stylised way with great influence from Aboriginal culture and dance. The cast are all costumed in white with splashes of a darker hue on their costumes. The story of Danny, a young man leaving the group of friends to go to University and the support and criticism he receives in his decision is well portrayed. The warrior theme is picked up again but this time it is has a mix of admiration blurred with the realisation of idiocy as the cast watch YouTube footage of boy racers creating havoc in Derby city centre.



Dreamtime is great evidence of how exciting theatre collaboration can be and how this talented cast of twenty work tremendously well in the group pieces. This includes the vibrant Aboriginal style dance and, in the acting, creating a tangible atmosphere and adapting their body language and speech to accentuate mood. As in Dust the individual short monologues are especially well done utilising some very complex vocabulary in ways that are immediately comprehensible. There is a strong sense of family in Dreamtime and in the text an authentic notion of the young people trying to discover who they are. Brilliantly and professionally done.




Dust and Dreamtime run at Derby Theatre until Saturday 4th April.

Photo credit: Robert Day


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Review: The Mist in the Mirror at Nottingham Playhouse




Judging from my last two visits to the theatre (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Mist in the Mirror) theatre technology has suddenly got very exciting and certainly helps add a terrific atmosphere to the plays that a straight forward set perhaps would not.


In this instance Oldham Coliseum Theatre and ITD (imitating the dog) have joined forces to create a masterpiece of Gothic drama in a stage adaptation of Susan Hill's ghost story The Mist in the Mirror. The adaptation is by Ian Kershaw and the result (in this touring production) is a stunning and scary piece of Gothic story-telling shown mostly in black and white with some amazing effects. The piece is a wonderfully stylish piece of theatre directed by Kevin Shaw.


Imitating the dog have been creating and touring original performance work since 1998. Pete Brooks, Andrew Quick and Simon Wainwright are the Artistic Directors and their work has built a company with a unique reputation in the UK, Europe and internationally. They also collaborate as creative partners for other works. Their recent work includes concept and projection design for Soul Sister in the West End and fairly recently the outstandingly popular and critically acclaimed The Hound of The Baskervilles for Oldham Coliseum Theatre. The Guardian newspaper called them "a company at the forefront of testing the nature of theatre".


In 'The Mist in the Mirror' we witness a restless young traveller named James Monmouth (Paul Warriner) becoming obsessed with the legacy of a famous fictional explorer known as Conrad Vane. During the story, superbly narrated by Jack Lord, as The Reader, Monmouth is repeatedly warned by a range of eccentric individuals to leave well alone. It is a bit like watching a horror film where the hero foolishly decides to venue into the creepy cellar where the killer lurks in the shadows and you know darn well he shouldn't but the crazy compulsion drives them onward.




The interaction between live and digital is brilliantly done. Rain pours down almost constantly, spooky fog at the docks fills the stage, doors disappear before your very eyes, and the darkness of the fantastic set created by Barney George adds superbly to the chill factor. My astonished self almost wanted to laugh out loud at the brilliance of a train carriage seemingly arriving on set, the hero descending from the carriage and the train departing in a ghostly mist. This was all done by projections and a solid entrance. The whole short play contains so many wonderful tricks of light, dark and shade and illusion that you are completely drawn into the story. The cast of five (Sarah Eve, Caroline Harding, Jack Lord, Martin Reeve, Paul Warriner) work together terrifically to tell the story with some perfect timing as they flit in and out of the darkened set as shadows of evil and good intent.




This is a Gothic fireside story that draws the audience into its complicities, makes you jump rather than terrifies, has creepy voice echoes that resound around the theatre and has an otherworldly mystery from flickering Edwardian gas lit start to startling finish.

Running at Nottingham Playhouse until 4th April 2015


Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Nottingham Theatre Royal


This National Theatre touring production of the play version of Mark Haddon's book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time adapted by Simon Stephens turns theatre on its head and spins it round sparkling. It currently resides at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until April 11th.
 
 

Technically it is superb, not only the dynamic cast headed by the very talented Joshua Jenkins as Christopher Boone but also an amazing set design by Bunny Christie. Christie's technological work of art is used in a variety of ways including some amazing projections to add sense to Christopher's state of mind and confusion. The stunning video design is by Finn Ross augmented by equally sensational lighting sets by Paule Constable. Adrian Sutton provides the music which links each short scene in the play, often changing moods on the spin of a foot. Sound design is by Ian Dickenson (Autograph). Dickenson's design allows for some powerful changes in the play and at one point almost literally blew the audience away.



Steven Hoggett and Scott Graham are the movement directors (Frantic Assembly) essential to a work of theatre made so compelling by the movement dynamics of the cast which at many points are utterly magical. As Christopher is lifted into the air and moved around the stage with a backdrop of stars you'd believe a boy could fly – and his rat Toby too.



Apart from Jenkins as Christopher there are a cast of eleven actors all playing specific roles and ensemble. As well human understudies taking part during the tour Toby the rat is also played by two very cute and talented rats, Starsky and Hutch. 'Cute rat' I never thought I'd ever get he chance to write that as a reviewer!



In the story of Christopher Boone and his abilities and disabilities actor Stuart Laing as his father Ed shines as a man at the end of his emotional tether having lost a wife and now having to deal with a constantly agitated son. In one silent scene as they looked up at the sky between them the silence spoke volumes. The play is a very active and totally engaging piece of theatre and all of the gifted cast are to be applauded for their constant energy, movement skills and humour in the portrayals. It is a piece that really makes you think about how people with autism or asperges perceive life and it is put across with great drama and much humour.


Mark Haddon's best selling story is brilliantly brought to the stage by Simon Stephen's writing and the thrilling work of the National Theatre and Nottingham is lucky to get a chance to see such multi-talents on the Nottingham Theatre Royal Stage. I implore you to stay after the curtain call for five minutes to hear and see Christopher's gutsy and proud explanation of how he solved the A level maths question. It is worth the admission fee alone.

Review originally published by Nottingham Live on 1st April 2015

Friday, 20 March 2015

Review: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole - the musical at Curve Leicester


"Dear Diary, just like the proverbial buses, reviewers, like myself, sometimes get three press nights all coming on the same night or see none at all. That's how it was on the 17th March. So I gathered my intellectual and poetic thoughts together and went over to Leicester Curve on the 19th instead. I had arranged to see The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged thirteen and three quarters – the musical. I was very glad I did. It was dead good. I think even that bully Barry Kent would've liked it too. I know Pandora would. Got to go. Review to write. Phil Lowe, aged fifty-nine and a quarter."

Five stars for an all star production!

The Curve production of Sue Townsend's story of adolescent trails and tribulations (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged thirteen and three quarters) turned musical by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary and directed by Luke Sheppard is a wonderfully entertaining, funny and touching night out at the theatre.

It hits all the right spots in portraying the life of the tender and wacky youth Adrian Mole, played by the very talented Lewis Andrews in tonight's show. It is no mean feat carrying a musical as the lead. Even for a seasoned adult performer you need bundles of talent, experience, energy and nerve and this young performer really nailed it as the gauche and socially confused lad obsessed with his observations of the adults around him and his love of the adorable Pandora. Andrews is a natural performer and conveyed all aspects of Mole's character to a tee. He could have walked straight out of the original book. Huge pimple and all.
 
 

There are four young actors who play Adrian throughout the run (until April 4th) and three young women who portray the object of Adrian's passion, Pandora. Tonight it is the turn of Elise Bugeja and she puts in an accomplished performance dazzling Adrian and the other boys on stage with Pandora's mix of confidence, sweet schoolgirl charm and posh girl understated sexiness. Adrian's cheeky mate Nigel (George Barnden in fine form) may initially get the girl Pandora over Adrian but he is hilarious in his teenage despair when it turns out she prefers Adrian after all. The audience really seem to like Barnden as Nigel and his dancing and facial glee occasionally reminds me of the character Michael in Billy Elliot. There is an obvious sense of huge enjoyment in what he is doing and in him going all out to do it.
 
 

The school bully Barry played James McJannett -Smith dominates (as you'd expect) in his scenes and has all the swagger of an idiot school bully but McJannett -Smith is also very funny in the uproarious Nativity scene as the kid forced to play the donkey in the second half.

The show itself zipps along at tremendous and colourful pace. Slamming doors punctuate the action on a fabulous set of cartoon style houses with pencils and pens for chimneys and back walls made out of pages of the Secret Diary made large. The original musical numbers are very professional with a good blend of fun songs, lively song and dance numbers and very tender songs about loss of love, regret and hopes for change. I especially liked 'I miss our life' sung by Adrian's estranged mum and dad Pauline and George (Kirsty Hoiles and Neil Ditt).
 
 

All of the cast play multiple roles (except Adrian Mole) to many laughs from the audience and they help the show retain its slickness by moving on set pieces and props. The adults in the show seem to have great fun playing the children at the Neil Armstrong Comprehensive school too.
 
 

Actor Rosemary Ashe is in fine voice and cantankerous form as Grandma, Cameron Blakely makes the slightly creepy neighbour Mr Lucas very amusing and is comic book laughable as the head teacher Mr Scruton. Neil Salvage as the old chap Bert Baxter complete with the food stained clothes and a communist bent is a real star of the show. Another highlight is Amy Booth-Steel's steamy portrayal as Adrian Mole's dad's new man mad lover, Doreen Slater.

This whole show is just a fun packed musical that should appeal to families and diarists alike. I would love to see it transfer to the West End some day. It is that good. Sue Townsend would have been delighted with it.

 

Bloody good Blood Wedding at Derby Theatre. Review.


Blood Wedding at Derby Theatre

This amazing co-production from Derby Theatre, Graeae and Dundee Rep Theatre of Blood Wedding is bloody good theatre.

Playwright David Ireland's new adaptation of Frederico Garcia Lorca's tensely beautiful poetic tale of love, lust, betrayal and death is a contemporary take told like a soap opera with a rapidly filling swear box on the side. It is bold, lusty, comical, irreverent and daring. It deserves to be seen as, like Graeae's other work, it gives a deeper meaning to the word 'theatrical' and properly demonstrates talents of the deaf and disabled and able bodied casts entwined.

Whilst Lorca's original story was full of poetic dialogue, symbolism and a deep feeling of heated sexual claustrophobia this production substitutes the heat of Andalusia with urban families (with violent backgrounds) in a 21st Century environment. Former villains of each family are either dead or in jail but their legacies of violence live on throughout the unfolding story. The two families try to keep the peace for the sake of the future and the upcoming wedding of Olivia and Edward. Happiness should be on the cards but, in this adaptation, despite it being extremely funny, dark clouds loom over the family joys as bad boy Leonardo ruffles the feathers of the soon to be bride with his unbridled lust. She claims not to be interested but their lusts and her uncertainties tell another story.



The play is superbly directed by Graeae's Jenny Sealey and the excitement comes from her mixed cast of actors. What other company would give the audience a multi-sensory version of the same play? We have deaf actors and signing actors working together to build up a collusion of interpretation using simultaneous texting above the action - quite often with hilarious results as the deaf mother Agnes spills out her bitter feelings and Edward, the signing son, diplomatically edits them for the benefit of family peace. We have able bodied and disabled actors as lovers and it works superbly and interestingly, in this production we have the story-line deliberately referring to the deaf and disabled in a way that is supportive of them and their characters but, also reveals the difficulties other encounter in communication through humour. It is a brave piece of theatre work that deserves to be enjoyed and supported.



Most importantly, the deaf and blind members of the audience were able to enjoy the piece the same as any other audience member through the clever writing that described actions through and about the actors and the afore-mentioned simultaneous signing and projected text.

Does the adaptation work in the style that David Ireland has written and the director and cast have work-shopped? I was expecting to have to think hard about the story-line and the characters and perhaps struggle in understanding the poetics but no. It is written in clear, often very blunt, dialogue and the characters all lived for me as very recognisable. In particular to do with the kinds of behaviour that one witnesses at many weddings. It is funny but turns savagely dark at the end. It is brash and performed in a compelling mixture of styles and it is a shake up of perceptions. It entertains and disturbs to brilliant effect. The set is designed by Nickie Sangster as a neon lit environment where restaurants glide on in one scene and a wooded park is shown as a screen of movable bright green neon lights.

The wonderful ensemble are Ej Raymond as Agnes the mother; Ricci McLeod as the groom Edward; Irene Macdougall as neighbour Eileen, waitress and Doris the tramp; Alison Halstead as Alma and Diana the tramp; Millie Turner as Vicky the wife of Leonardo; Miles Mitchell as Leonardo; Ann Louise Ross as Shirley and Amy Conachan as Olivia the bride.