Some Things for the Weekend
Scots theatre punching above its weight
Few would argue against the claim that Scotland creates more quality theatre per head of population than any of the other constituent countries of the UK. In The Traverse and The Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh, The Citizens’ in Glasgow , Dundee Rep and The National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) it boasts six world-class producing companies, For a nation of barely more than five million people, Scotland is seriously punching above its weight.
If further evidence of this claim were required, it came in the form of the short list for this year’s Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland. The range and quality of the nominees is truly breathtaking and includes a number of productions which have featured in this column during the past year.
Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour, co-produced by NTS and Newcastle-based Live Theatre Company, Lanark from The Citizens’, The Royal Lyceum’s Waiting for Godot and This Restless House, an NTS and Citizens’ joint project would all be worthy winners of Best Production when gongs are given out at The Lyceum on 12 June.
I am delighted to see Cliff Burnett, whom I worked with at Durham Theatre Company over 20 years ago, nominated for Best Male Performance. Cliff was one of the original cast of John Byrne’s The Slab Boys at The Traverse back in the late seventies, and this nomination is overdue recognition of his enormous contribution to theatre on both sides of the border for more than 40 years.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Comedy, Theatre, Music, Visual Arts
PERTH FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS
Perth Concert Hall, St John’s Kirk of Perth and other venues throughout the City. Thursday 19th to Sunday 29th May
Scotland’s sixth city is rarely the focus of the nation’s arts press. Indeed, it is quite frequently outshone by its smaller near-neighbour Pitlochry. That will change over the next ten days as the city hosts the annual Festival of the Arts. It runs from through to the Sunday of the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, with events every night of the week.
Based mainly in two venues, Perth Concert Hall and St John’s Kirk of Perth, the festival does host events at a number of other venues in the city in a broad and eclectic programme.
This year’s line-up includes TV’s Jools Holland who appears at the Concert Hall with his R&B Orchestra, with other musical highlights including KT Tunstall and The Unthanks.
There is comedy from ventriloquist Nina Conti and her foul-mouthed monkey as well as the surreal Alex Horne who appears with musical support in the form of the Horne Section. Factor in the Halle Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Fifth, and it’s safe to say Perth pretty much provides something for everyone over the next week and a half.
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Until 21st May
Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre are also currently presenting a stage version of a musical made famous by Disney. This production of Mary Poppins is supposedly slightly darker than the sugary-sweet screen version, but all the songs will be familiar nonetheless.
Edinburgh Playhouse Until Saturday 21st
If it’s a toss-up between seeing one of the two family shows on offer in the capital this week, I guess this show may just have the edge, as it features Scotland’s national treasure Elaine C. Smith
GARY McPOTTER AND THE LAIRD OF THE RINGS
Lemon Tree, Aberdeen Thursday 19th and Friday 20th May 7pm
While a spoof on the Harry Potter tales may sound like children’s entertainment, this show by local theatre company Va Va Voom is actually aimed at an older audience. This mickey-take on the work of Tolkien and JK Rowling has a distinctly Aberdonian flavour and should be an entertaining romp.
The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow Thursday 19th to Saturday 21st May 8.30
Canadian Ron Vaudry has been a mainstay of his country’s comedy scene, and a regular visitor to these shores, for over thirty years. While lacking the X-factor that makes his compatriots Mike Wilmot and Glenn Wool so compelling to watch, he is nonetheless consistently entertaining. He’s joined at The Stand in Glasgow this weekend by Edinburgh Fringe hit Andrea Hubbert, rising talents Liam Withall and Marc Jennings and host Raymond Mearns, who is worth the entry fee on his own.
CHARTING NEW WATERS
McManus Gallery, Dundee Until 23rd October
This exhibition of recent acquisitions to the city’s permanent collection has at its centrepiece the work of Frances Walker, who travelled to Antarctica to chronicle its land and seascape. These paintings, which she later gifted to McManus Gallery are the result of that expedition.
Scottish Storytelling Centre Until 3rd June 10 am to 6 pm
Set in the modern surrounding of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, which nestles into its ancient neighbours on the Royal Mile, this exhibition showcases the winners of an Instagram-led competition in which members of the public were asked to contribute photos of spaces that inspired them. It forms part of the city’s Festival of Architecture.
THE IDEAL HUT SHOW
Royal Botanic Garden Until 30th May
Fans of the garden shed will love this imaginative exhibition in Edinburgh’s Botanic Garden, which also forms part of the Festival Of Architecture. If you miss The Ideal Hut Show in Edinburgh this month, it is moving on to Glasgow, Dundee, Inverness and Perth.
Vladimir McTavish will be performing at The Brighton Fringe from Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd May and at The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow on Monday 23rd.