Monstrous Bodies at Dundee Rep

Mary Shelley’s visit to Dundee in 1812, has always fascinated me. The author of Frankenstein, cited her time in the city as one of the inspirations behind her masterpiece and I’ve always wondered what exactly it was about Dundee and the Silvery Tay, that influenced her. So, when I heard that Monstrous Bodies, a play written and directed by Sandy Thomson of Poor Boy, was coming to Dundee Rep, I just knew I had to see it.

But the play is much more than just a biographical account of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s (Shelley’s maiden name) visit to Dundee. The 14 year olds story of living with the Baxter family, is told alongside modern day teenager Roxanne Walker’s, tale of woe. While Mary struggles to be taken seriously as a woman and a writer, Roxanne faces the humiliation of her classmates seeing her topless, after a boy she knows takes a photograph of her drunk at a party and shares it around the school.

The two storylines connect as Roxanne tries to build up the courage to face her peers again and deliver a talk on her idol, Mary Shelley. But that isn’t all they have in common. Both characters want to be treated as equals – but sadly respect for young women is hard to find in both 1812 and 2017. So sometimes you have to write your own story…

Monstrous Bodies was utterly captivating and inspiring to watch. Once again, the Dundee Ensemble cast were amazing with stand-out performances from Rebekah Lumsden as Roxanne, Eilidh McCormick as Mary, Elaine Stirrat as Liberty and Lorna Gold as Grissel. The play was supported by a host of young dancers who really brought the play to life and made the whole production vibrant and exciting to watch.

The stellar young cast, the realistic dialogue and the fact that audience members were invited to take images and videos at key points in the performance, makes this play current and attractive to young audiences as well as old.

I left the play feeling empowered with Mary Shelley’s words echoing around inside my head. “Beware: For I am fearless, and therefor powerful.”

What a message to be sending out to young women today.

Monstrous Bodies (Chasing Mary Shelley down Peep O’ Day Lane), is on at the Dundee Rep until Saturday the 6th of May.

For further information and to book tickets, visit: www.dundeerep.co.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of the Monstrous Bodies in exchange for this fair and honest review.

Review: Death of a Salesman – Dundee Rep

Death of a Salesman wasn’t a play that I was really familiar with up until Saturday night. After skipping my highers at secondary school to go straight to college (and then on to university) – I never did study Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer winning play. It’s something that’s I’ve always been eager to rectify, so when I heard it was coming to Dundee Rep, I just knew I had to see it.

Told using a combination of flashbacks, dreams and present tense action, Death of a Salesman is a heart-breaking tale of how the death of a dream can affect a man and his family. Starring the wonderful Billy Mack, the play is about a 63-year-old travelling salesman named Willy Loman who is struggling to make ends meet. Haunted by his dreams of making it big, he finds himself at the end of his career, broke and feeling redundant. But no matter how low he feels, Willy always holds on to the hope that he can turn things around. Too proud to consider any other kind of career, Willy believes that charm and hard work are all that you need in life to succeed.

With beautiful performances from Billy Mack, Irene MacDougall as Willy’s long suffering but loving wife Linda and Laurie Scott as his youngest son Happy, the production is just stunning to watch. But for me it was Ewan Donald’s tremendous performance as Biff, Willy’s eldest son, that made this show truly spellbinding. The scenes between Willy and Biff are just electrifying to watch, with the actors capturing the intensity of this complicated father and son relationship, just perfectly.

Death of a Salesman is directed by Joe Douglas and is showing at the Dundee Rep until Saturday the 11th of March. For further information and to book tickets, visit: www.dundeerep.co.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with a ticket for this showing of Death of a Salesman in exchange for this fair and honest review.

George’s Marvellous Medicine at the Dundee Rep – Review

I was brought up on a diet of Roald Dahl. Matilda, The Witches and George’s Marvellous Medicine were my all time favourite books and kept me captivated through most of the 80s. Of course, I’ve also watched Matilda and The Witches on the big screen too – and although I enjoyed them both, for me the movie versions never had quite the same appeal as the books.

So when I heard that George’s Marvellous Medicine was coming to the Dundee Rep, I was curious about how the deliciously simple but dark little tale would work on the stage.

Dundee, UK. 23.11.2016. Dundee Rep Ensemble presents GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE, adapted from Roald Dahl's book by Stuart Paterson, and directed by Associate Artistic Director, Joe Douglas. With design by Ana Ines Jabares-Pita and lighting design by Mark Doubleday. The cast is: Rebekah Lumsden (George Killy-Kranky), Ann Louise Ross (Grandma), Emily Winter (Mary Killy-Kranky), Irene Macdougall (Giant Chicken) and Ewan Donald (Johnny Killy-Kranky). Photograph © Jane Hobson.

I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. While some of the elements of the play such as the incredible set of George’s House, had an almost futuristic feel, the plot never strayed far from Dahl’s story, capturing all of its tremendously wicked humour.

As always the Dundee Ensemble cast gave wonderful performances. Rebekah Lumsden shone as George as did Emily Winter and Ewan Donald as the mischief maker’s parents. But it was Ann Louise Ross (Granny Island from Katie Morag) as Grandma who absolutely stole the show as the foul, repugnant and terrifying Grandma. She managed to be both menacing and funny all at the same time – making my little one jump and chuckle in equal turns.

The special effects and stunning set, added a magical feel to the production, ensuring that George’s Marvellous Medicine the play, was every bit as glorious as the book. I’ll never forget my seven year old’s face when Grandma started to grow – it was an absolute picture!

If you’re looking to take your children some where enchanting this Christmas, I’d highly recommend a trip to see George’s Marvellous Medicine. After all there is no place more magical than the theatre.

George’s Marvellous Medicine is at the Dundee Rep until the 31st of December. To book tickets visit: http://www.dundeerep.co.uk

Image by Jane Hobson

Disclaimer: I was given two tickets to see the Dundee Rep’s production of George’s Marvellous Medicine in exchange for this fair and honest review.

The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black, Black Oil Tour – Review

chev-review-imageWhat can you say about The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black, Black Oil that hasn’t already been said?

When a play gets 5 star reviews from the likes of The Stage, The Scotsman and The Guardian, you know it’s going to be good, right? Right! Dundee Rep’s masterpiece is every bit as powerful as I’d heard it was, but what I hadn’t expected was to feel quite so engaged and quite so emotional, watching it.

Telling the story of the Scottish Highlands from the Highland Clearances through to the present day, the play begins with dancing, whisky and fun. But as the audience is transported back to the 18th Century the mood becomes more serious and poignant, making the hilarious black humour, interspersed throughout the play, all the more welcome.

Written as a musical drama by John McGrath over 40 years ago, The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black, Black Oil is just as relevant today as it was back then. Acted out by the superb Dundee Rep Ensemble cast, including the brilliant Ewan Donald, Billy Mack, Irene Macdougall and Emily Winter, the play looks back at Scotland’s past and asks it’s audience to act now to save our future.

Now embarking on a tour in theatres throughout Scotland, The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black, Black Oil is a must see play for every patriotic Scot. Just remember to bring along your dancing shoes and a tissue or two!

The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black, Black Oil is currently playing at the Dundee Rep Theatre before embarking on a tour around Scotland including dates in Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow and Aberdeen. For more information about the play and to book tickets, visit: http://cheviottour.co.uk

 

What’s Done Cannot Be Undone – Macbeth by Bard in the Botanics

c64_Macbeth(Small)It’s fair to say that Shakespeare’s grizzly Scottish play, Macbeth, is pretty well known by most. However there are still a few of us theatre fans who haven’t quite gotten round to see the Bard’s most popular play and until Tuesday evening, I was one of them.

I’d been looking forward to getting to grips with Macbeth for ages, but decided to bypass the recent film version to see it live as Shakespeare had intended us to see it. Bard in the Botanic’s production particularly appealed as it is set outside, against the dramatic backdrop of the Scotland’s skies. Unfortunately due to heavy rain, the play was relocated to The Rep at the last minute. While this was of course disappointing, the beautiful Dundee theatre venue is always a fantastic place to see any production.

Although I’d never seen Macbeth, I did know a vague outline of the story of the man who turned into monster after being seduced by the promise of power, but what I didn’t know was what led this gentle man to seek the crown at all costs.

Bard in the Botanic version of the play, directed by Gordon Barr, is every bit as bewitching as I’d hoped it would be. While the production was a tad confusing at times, with just five cast members playing multiple roles, the actor’s superb skills made sure that I was able to keep up with who was who.

Each role was played to perfection from the power hungry Macbeth played by Kirk Bage to Robert Elkin’s spellbinding witch whose demonic face haunted me for days. But it was Lady Macbeth, played by Nicole Cooper, who stole the show for me with her stunning portrayal of a distraught childless mother who had fallen into the dark side, pulling Macbeth down with her. For more information about Bard in the Botanics and their productions, please visit: http://bardinthebotanics.co.uk/

Now that I have two Shakespearian plays under my belt, I’m desperate to see more! Which Shakespeare play would you recommend? I’d love to know…