A Murder is Announced by Middle Ground Theatre Company

I’m quite the Agatha Christie fan girl these days. Not only have I devoured many of her books, I’ve also seen a lot of her work adapted into plays including The Mousetrap, And Then There Were None and Witness for the Prosecution. So, when I heard that A Murder Is Announced was visiting the Dundee Rep, I knew I’d have to see it.

The play begins with the residents of Chipping Cleghorn reading a peculiar advert in the local newspaper, which announces that a murder is to take place at Little Paddocks, a home that belongs to Letitia Blacklock. Curiosity gets the better of the group and they gather at the house, just as the lights go out and a shot is fired.

The lavish production by Middle Ground Theatre, which features Bergerac star Louise Jameson and ex-Eastenders star Janet Dibley, puts Miss Marple’s detective skills to the test as she works to unravel this complex mystery. As always Agatha Christie’s writing, stands up to the test of time and I was properly on the edge of my seat throughout this spellbinding production.

It may have been more than forty years since her death, but the Queen of Crime is still a masterful storyteller who is more than worthy of her crown. With a nostalgic set, a taut script and a fantastic cast, I would highly recommend seeing this production of A Murder is Announced.

I’m also pleased to report that I managed to guess the murderer, although to be fair, I did guess about five other characters first! But that’s the fun of a good old whodunnit isn’t it?

A Murder is Announced is currently touring the UK. For further information, please visit: http://www.middlegroundtheatre.co.uk

*Disclaimer – I was provided with two tickets to the performance in exchange for this fair and honest review.

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