Edinburgh may be the capital city of Scotland but Glasgow is the undisputed culture capital. It boast copious amounts of venues whether you are a music obsessor, film nut or theatre buff – it truly has it all! Here’s the details about what has been and what’s coming up in Glasgow’s Theatre scene.
REVIEW: The Macbeth’s at the Citizen’s Theatre
Macbeth is perhaps Shakespeare’s most well-known and oft performed play. It is therefore not surprising that companies are constantly experimenting, trying new ideas to keep it fresh. Some work, some do not. And this example, where the play is reworked to focus on Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s marriage, I fear falls into the latter category. The premise of the piece is that it focuses on the marriage that forms the nucleus of the Scottish play. Set entirely in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s bedroom, it chronicles the slow dissolution of their relationship as both give in to their individual madness.
If there is fault with the production, it is not to be found in the acting. Featuring only two actors in the eponymous roles, both deliver a powerful performance, showing equal strength in the roles. Macbeth is a strong yet tortured individual, who is shown as steady in his action at first, yet gradually descends into insanity before our eyes, whilst Lady Macbeth is a quicker paced performance, constantly flitting around, her fast-paced personality quickly turning manic. Both actors give strong performances, but are unfortunately let down by the production.
The main issue lies in the staging. The performance is done in the round, a bold choice, as it risk having sections of the audience view blocked off at times. This could be forgiven; however, the lighting was kept to a very dusky minimum during the whole show which, combined with the staging, mean t there where large sections where I could not make out either actors face. This was on top of some questionable directorial choices, which include having Lady Macbeth change clothes onstage more times than seemed necessary and a simulated sex scene which I could only describe as “cringeworthy” for those of us watching it.
Overall, this interpretation of Macbeth, whilst possessing an interesting premise and some talented actors, falls short of the established expectations for the play. The directorial choices, staging and lighting all combine to make it a spirited, but somewhat lacklustre performance.
REVIEW: Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland
For those who regularly attend ‘A Play, a Pie and a Pint’ at the Oran Mor, you might know that it can be somewhat hit and miss. You might also think that a play that starts with the words “Christ, Sh*t, F*ck,” will not be an overly sophisticated performance. And you’d be right. But that doesn’t stop it from being both strangely touching and absolutely hilarious.
Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland is about Ivan, a writer with writer’s block on the 10th anniversary of his mother’s death. It is a one-man performance, so all eyes are on this individual as he recounts the story of his mother’s last days. There are many characters in the story, which the lead actor manages to differentiate using different voices. This highlights an impressively versatile vocal style and serves as a large part of the play’s humour, as he naturally speaks with a rather deadpan East Glasgow accent. But he manages to put us in mind of the other characters very well.
The story manages to be very fast-paced without losing any of the meaning. He tells of his mother’s slow battle with lung cancer through his own eyes, managing to make it both emotional and very funny. All the while never letting us forget that he is telling a story. This all happens in his flat, which he uses to its fullest effect, using everything around him to help with the recounting of the tale.
Overall, Love and Death in Govan and Hyndland is a side-splittingly funny show, that manages at the same time, to make us all (subconsciously at least) think about those close to us in a more affectionate way.
INTERVIEW: Crash Course Theatre
Crash Course Theatre is a Student run theatre company, describing itself as “a collaborative theatre company based in Glasgow, creating and producing a variety of theatre – from new works to familiar classics.” I sat down with Sean and Lauren, 2 of the founders and Directors of their next show, Closer, to find out more about them.
So, what made you want to set up your own theatre company?
Sean: We didn’t really start thinking we wanted out own theatre company, we simply started thinking we wanted to do a show and over time the theatre company grew, because we wanted more creative control.
Lauren: Creative control and control in terms of time, being able to shape it around our own schedules.
Sean: It was largely formed by three friends who like to bounce ideas of each other anyway, so this was a good way to put that into practice.
And what does your company aim to do?
Sean: More than anything, form an emphasis on collaborating on anyone whose theatrically inclined, not just in acting.
Lauren: when people audition we kind off say that, as a member of the team, you could be involved in other projects with us, in other roles. We look for people who are multi-faceted artists. We encourage people to write, direct as well as act.
Sean: Stylistically, we lean towards trends that are coming out in contemporary British theatre anyway and using ideas from other practitioners that we know anyway.
Lauren: It’s basically a playground for us use really, a place to experiment, to make mistakes.
What can you tell us about your next production?
Sean: About the play itself, it’s a relatively simple premise, it’s four characters, its about a four-year time span, they all meet, form relationships, disband from those relationships many times
Lauren: It’s a character piece.
Sean: Its definitely a character piece. The premise of the play is quite simple, the highlight is Marber’s text and the way he writes people and the way that people talk.
Lauren: In terms of how we’re putting on the production, its done in avenue staging, with a focus on how we can use that, so the audience gets different experience of the production based on the way the characters see it.
Sean: On Laurens point, about having individual experiences for each audience member, people may find that there will be point at which they’re not seeing everything. Our advice for people is don’t fight it and be open to a slightly unconventional presentation. Hopefully, if anything, it will add to it, because in a play about how humans act with other humans, there are so many different sides to it, so end on would be a bit false.
What advice would you give to anyone trying to set up their own company?
Lauren: Have a strong, solid group of people involved, like all of us, we were friends beforehand and were all similarly inclined to enjoy theatre, so that as a base is very important, because you’re putting your money and your time into it.
Sean: and that plays into what kind of company you want to start up, if you want to have a company that produces plays and facilitates other creative people that’s fine, but then if you also want to be artistically involved as well, it’s very important that you recognise that, the amount of stress when trying to produce it and direct, so having a good team around you, that you can delegate to and keep your cool with is very important.
Lauren: Yeah, the main 4 of us that are at the base of running it are myself, Sean, Alex and Jessica, myself and Sean are directing as well as running the show, Alex is acting as well as running it and Jessica’s producing.
Sean: She’s also stage managing and costume, but that wouldn’t be able to happen if we weren’t comfortable with each other and able to make meaningful strides and be able to say “this works, this doesn’t”. So be honest about what you want to do, what you’re interested, like, if you want to do devised, physical theatre, then do it, don’t just do Shakespeare just because it sells well. If you do something you’re interested in and enjoy, it will be a better performance and you will enjoy it a lot more.
What opportunities can you offer young theatre-makers?
Sean: We touched on this before, we are a wholly collaborative theatre company.
Lauren: The opportunity to not feel restricted to one role, which is something that I find quite frustrating, because I’ve always enjoyed multiple areas of the arts and that kind of pressure to be this or that is something we don’t need.
Sean: Particularly with Closer, Morgan, who is acting, but is also a playwright and a director and has brought so much to it, as have Robbie and Alex. William has done a lot of directing as well.
Lauren: As for where we are now, we’re just kind of setting ourselves up, so we can just offer projects and are looking to collaborate with people who are starting stage. Hopefully as we go on we’ll be able to offer more to people.
Sean: I feel we’re not alone, in that there’s a lot of people trying to do something similar-ish, so we can open arms and say, “if you want to make some theatre, if you want to experiment in a safe space, but also want to be involved with people who want to do theatre as well, then get in touch, we’re looking for interesting people”.
Closer, by Patrick Marber, runs at the Old Hairdresser’s on the 24th & 25th October and from the sound of it, is well worth a look.
By Michael Cartledge