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Some Things for the Weekend

Byrne and Barrie top must-see shows

Vlad headWith the passing of both Victoria Wood and Prince within the last ten days, the world of entertainment lost two of its brightest stars.  Coming after so many other celebrity deaths at the start of this year, 2016 is without doubt shaping up to be a bad year for show business.

Both Prince and Victoria Wood managed to marry creative integrity with widespread popularity.  Prince’s body of work was remarkable, his eclectic musical output displaying a range of influences, which was doubtless a result of his growing up as a black kid in the predominantly white mid-West city of Minneapolis. 

It must never be forgotten what a gifted  musician he was.  While able to play pretty much any instrument, he was arguably the greatest guitarist in the entire history of rock and roll.  Add to that his writing for artistes as diverse as The Bangles (Manic Monday) and Sinead O’Connor (Nothing Compares 2U), and it is fair to say there are precious few people below the age of sixty who were not in some way touched by his talent.

Nonetheless, he never penned a lyric as memorable as “This folly is jolly, bend me over backwards on the hostess trolley”  as Victoria Wood did.  She likewise enjoyed near-universal popularity, and in common with Prince, this was not gained by playing to the lowest common denominator.  She was prodigiously gifted as a writer, actor, musician and comedian, who could embrace serious drama as easily as she could light entertainment.   From the observational comic sketches of Wood & Walters, through the utter daftness of Acorn Antiques and Dinnerladies to the bleak drama of Housewife 49, the breadth of her creative output was second-to-none.

Sadly, I never got the chance to see either of them perform live, something I now regret.  I guess the message of this piece is that iIf you enjoy someone’s work, be they an artist, a musician an actor or a comedian, get out to see them before they shuffle off this mortal coil.

I sincerely hope none of the following people appearing in Scotland die soon.  However, get out to see them.



Dundee Rep, Friday 29th, Saturday 30th April  7.30

Irish comedian Ed Byrne has been one of the most consistently entertaining acts on the circuit for the best part of twenty years.  While never quite reaching the heights some predicted, he has made the transition from cheeky young lad to curmudgeonly middle-aged man almost seamlessly.


The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow   Thursday 28th April to Sunday 1st June

This is undoubtedly one of the finest line-ups of comedy talent anywhere in the UK this weekend.  One of the London circuit’s most prolific topical stand-ups Alastair Barrie (fresh from finishing last weekend’s London Marathon) takes middle-billing in a show featuring the surreal and intellectual Geordie comic John Whale and the outrageous Obadiah Steppenwolfe III, with the sublime hosting skills of Jojo Sutherland holding the night together.


Breakneck Comedy, Blue Lamp, Aberdeen  Saturday 23rd April 8.30

Since his departure from BBC’s The One Show, Hardeep Singh-Kholi has concentrated on live stand-up, and be perfectly frank, his can be a bit of a hit-and-miss act.  If the latter is the case on Saturday in Aberdeen, there is still plenty to enjoy on a bill comprising the ever-engaging Jamie Dalgleish and the force of comedic nature that is Gus Lymburn, this week crowned “Best Compere” at the 2016 Scottish Comedy Awards.



Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Until 7th may.  Times vary

Thirty years ago, Michael Boyd directed a number of highly critically-acclaimed productions at The Tron Theatre in Glasgow, before going on to pastures new, finally becoming director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and receiving the inevitable knighthood which goes with that position.  Sir Michael now returns to  creative duty in Scotland for the first time in well over a decade with this imaginative 20th-century farce-cum-nightmare.


Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh  Until  14th May Times vary

Mark Thompson’s final production as artistic director of the Lyceum is an imaginative re-working of the timeless Greek myth, originally penned by Homer. The strong ensemble cast includes Olivier award nominee Meldy Grove and Scottish theatre stalwart Ron Donachie, who many may remember from the icons 1980’s BBC Scotland comedy drama Tutti Frutti.


King’s Theatre, Edinburgh   Tuesday 26th to Sunday 30th April

Who would have thought that a musical based on a trashy 1970’s teenage girls’ magazine would turn out to be one of the biggest theatre hits on 2016 ?  Certainly not me.  If you missed Jackie The Musical in Edinburgh, you can catch it in Perth, Inverness and Aberdeen in July



On General Release

One of the greatest losses to the world of film and theatre this year was the tragically early death of the great Alan Rickman who never gave anything but a stellar performance, no matter how poor the script. Take a chance to see his last-ever screen appearance in tis action movie which also features the living national treasure that is Dame Helen Mirren

Vladimir McTavish will be performing at The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh from Thursday 28th April to Sunday 1st May.  Further details on

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