Some Things for the Weekend

Forget the bridge closure…it’s show time!

Vlad cigarIt’s wet, it’s windy, it’s been night-time since four o’clock in the afternoon, and you may well have been stuck in a traffic jam on a sixty-mile detour because of the closure of the Forth Road Bridge.. Look on the bright side, there is plenty of high-quality festive entertainment near you, whichever side of the river you stay. Here are my recommendations for the next few days.

On General Release
Nothing sums up the Festive Season better than a good old-fashioned Gothic horror story. At any rate, that’s what Christmas day with my family always end up resembling. James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe are just two of many good reasons to catch this latest interpretation of Mary Shelley’s classic.

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow Until 3rd January. Times vary
As a child growing up in Glasgow, my first experience of the theatre was a pantomime at the Citizens Theatre. As a young adult, I worked at an adventure playground in the Gorbals, and the our kids used to be invited to watch a special free dress rehearsal performance, and have seen more over the subsequent thirty-odd years. In all that time, I have never seen a bad Christmas show at The Citz, and this year is no exception. Rapunzel is a welcome departure from the normal repertoire of panto stories, and contains a stunning set an brilliant original songs.

Dundee Rep   Until 31st December 7pm (Matinees at 2.30)
If, like me, you prefer a “seasonal play”, rather than a pantomime, Dundee Rep stage adaptation of the Roald Dhal classic should be right up your street. And if your street happens to be in Dundee, all the better.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Until Thursday 24th December Times Vary
Another example of festive entertainment that doesn’t require the audience shouting “He’s behind you!” This double-bill of two short plays is the work of two of Scotland’s most distinguished new writers, Rona Munro (author of The James Plays) and Stephen Greenhorn (who scripted Sunshine On Leith)

Byre Theatre, St Andrews   Until 2nd January.   Times Vary
A modern take on one of the more traditional pantomime stories. The Byre Theatre’s version is set in a dance class run by Cinders’ wicked step-mother and has a Strictly Come Dancing feel to it. As well as the core professional cast, there are also some stunning performances from the local youth theatre. Also, in case you were worried, it does still end in a good old-fashioned singalong with the song-sheet.

His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen Until 3rd January 1.45 and 7 pm
Who needs a pantomime dame, when instead you can have the real-life Grande Dame of Scottish comedy Elaine C Smith ? There are few better exponents of knockabout pantomime humour. Even if the rest of the cast were to be average, this would still be watchable.

The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh   Saturday 12th December at 4.30
I saw this show last weekend, and it is a lot of fun. An alternative approach to Christmas every Saturday afternoon in December, hosted by the brilliantly talented Andrew Learmonth, with guest spots from some big names on the comedy circuit, and from a few oddball artistes too Anything could happen, and on last week’s evidence, almost certainly will.

On General Release
Opening last week to universally strong reviews, this promises to be one of the major critical hits of this year. Lewis Crassic Gibbon’s moving, and at times heart-breakingly sad, novel about the coming of age of you girl in North-East Scotland during World War I was one of the most significant novels of the twentieth century. Its television adaptation by the BBC is the 1970’s reduced my teenage self to tears, such was the poignancy of its writing. If this modern adaptation for the large screen comes anywhere near to matching that quality, then I for one will not be complaining.

Vladimir McTavish will be appearing at Breakneck Comedy at The Blue Lamp in Aberdeen on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th December

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