Previews / Reviews

If you find a review/preview of something coming to Eastwood Park Theatre or maybe your company are joining us this season post it here and share it with the world!!

Also let us know what you thought of a show you went to see at EPT recently and we might even give you a couple of freebies for another show. We are nice like that….sometimes 🙂

Review of Smalltown—Eastwood Park Theatre 10/03/11

By Christine Irvine (Young PromotER)

As the legend goes, Smalltown was dreamt up in the wake of one awe-struck reviewer’s comment that some mind-bending compound must have been added to the Ayrshire water about thirty years ago to produce such sparkling talent as Smalltown writers and co-creators D.C Jackson, Johnny McKnight and Douglas Maxwell. Smalltown itself does nothing to dampen this claim, as the three writers present their audience with three separate tales of comedic carnage, exploring the possible side-effects of a poisoned water supply in the Ayrshire towns of Girvan, Stewarton and Ardrossan. Which town survives? For an added twist of bloodthirsty interaction, it’s the audience who decide.

The first stop is Douglas Maxwell’s Girvan, a satirical swipe at the beautiful historic coastline, managed with typical local authority efficiency by tourism industry lifer Roy Hannay, his summer temp Carter Hamilton, and take-no-prisoners marketing guru Irene Ann Margaret Callahan. It’s all going swimmingly, except for the bottled water they’re meant to be flogging, which has the unfortunate side-effect of, well, killing tourists.
Easing the audience gently into Smalltown’s special brand of ridiculous, Maxwell’s story thrives on the smart observations about local authority beaurocracy, letting Julie Brown’s hilariously psychotic I A M Callahan steal the show right up until the cliffhanger, where Roy’s marsupial-shaped nemesis Montgomery is revealed, and Roy and old flame Mary Mangle face off with suspiciously radioactive-looking bottles of ‘Rabbie Juice’, eager to prove once and for all who really ‘belongs to Girvin’.

With hardly a pause for breath (and a groan of disappointment from the audience), we’re whisked straight into D.C Jackson’s Stewarton, which is pretty much single-handedly responsible for the age-limit and numerous content warnings on the back of Smalltown’s programme, as it abandons clever barbs to go straight for the– ahem, throat— with some sexually explicit slapstick. Here, with more than a wink at irony, the poisoned water seems to be turning over-sexed teenagers into wild animals.
The most risqué of all the scripts, Jackson’s laughs rely mostly on the audience’s second-hand embarrassment at the two teens’ (Sally Reid and Jonathan Holt) painfully awkward encounter, and the blatant ridiculousness of Reid’s foxtail. However, Reid and Holt’s performances are probably the most entertaining of the whole show, as they joyfully throw themselves into the absurdity, making sure the audience can’t help but fall a little in love with them and their teenage naivety.

Last but not least, show director Johnny McKnight’s sojourn to Ardrossan regales us with a tale of two kitchen ladies’ difficult morning, as they struggle with missing mobiles, a zombie in the freezer and—worst of all—no bin bags. McKnight’s script crackles along, zinging one-liners at the audience with perfect comedic timing courtesy of Julie Brown and Anita Vettesse as doomed minimum-wagers, Trudy and Margaret. For me, this comical struggle to decide the lesser of two evils—no free minutes left on your phone or The Undead– was the most sharply hilarious of the three stories, and I could’ve happily watched Margaret and Trudy banter back and forth for another hour or so as they fought off their lifeless colleagues to get home in time for Eastenders, ala Shawn of the Dead.

Shame then that Smalltown only gives the audience a chance to see one ending. It’s a marketing ploy I A M Callahan herself would be proud of, as everyone I spoke too admitted they’d be happy to come and see Smalltown again, just for the chance to see how the other stories panned out.

Smalltown returns Random Accomplice to their comedy roots, pairing stellar writing with a no-holes-barred cast and a wonderfully inventive use of sound and lighting, all of which serves to heighten the B-movie atmosphere and ensure the audience are permanently prepared to suspend their disbelief.
All in all, the production lives up to the profundity of its conception. If you’re looking for hard-hitting dramatic theatre, you’ll probably leave at the interval. But for a riotous, hilarity-inducing night out, Smalltown would be hard to beat.

Even by a boxing kangaroo.

Review of  West Side Story (Glasgow Music Theatre)

By Andrea Preston (Young PromotER)

For anyone who has read my reviews before you will know I generally make a deal with myself to enter a performance space with an almost empty head; no expectations apart from good, no preconceptions of design or interpretation, simply an open mind to what I am about to witness. This story however was different. A love story, incomparable with any other; one that has transcended generations with its originality– of course, it is one Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. Even this interpretation, the turmoils of love set against the backdrop of a New York slum, is one most people will recognise. The 1961 film adaptation of the critically acclaimed musical “West Side Story” shot its stars into fame winning an unbelievable 10 Oscars, a Grammy, and was nominated for a further 16 awards the year after its release. Obviously, this story had a reputation which sets the bar very high for further performers to reach. So what could a local musical theatre group from Glasgow bring to the table?

With my mother sitting beside me, I got myself comfortable in time for the show to begin. The air was full of noise- excited twenty-something year olds coming to support a friend on stage, audience members from older generations nostalgically remembering the production at its cinematic debut, family members from all over East Renfrewshire meeting old friends and neighbours, and of course, the chirp of the orchestra pit as the conductor tried to ensure everyone was in tune. The show actually began with the “Sharks” on a raised platform, as a ship, coming into New York. An interesting beginning, a way to welcome us into the realm of the production. It was kind of surprising, however, that the city of New York required people to switch off their mobile phones and resign from using flash photography.

Admittedly this is a hard show to review unless you are taking a step by step guide through each and every song. But that would be a bit boring. You see “West Side Story“, like any musical, is something hard to critique as you remember each performer must act, sing and dance, often simultaneously. Telling a reader that someone’s performance was lacking is like telling an Olympic athlete that their shy miss of first place is shameful–you couldn’t do it, so how can you say someone else can’t either? I, myself, do not claim to be an expert, however I do know when I see talent and emotion, something this production had in abundance.

Surprisingly it was not the show’s principle characters (the lovers, Tony and Maria; played by Colin Richardson and Kirsty Leith) who illustrated this first. The Mercutio-type best friend of Tony, otherwise known as Riff (Stewart Archibald), was already contending to steal the show with his dynamic control as leader of the “Jets” (The American gang) and his vocal control both with his convincing New York accent and his singing in the “Jets Song” the first of the show. The gang themselves were very disciplined; sharp lines and combat-like choreography contrasting with ballet styles leaps and turns which had both elements of the film’s dance routines and the grittier originality of the company’s choreographer Marion Baird.

Equally the entrance of the “Sharks” (the Puerto-Rican gang) showed a completely different ‘vibe’, only emphasising the racial and cultural differences that the show is based around. Tango and Salsa-like smooth movements– still with the utmost control– clearly showed the contrast in the gangs, which would evidently lead to the struggle of the two lovers later on in the play.

Finally though, we are introduced to Tony as he is convinced by Riff to come to a local dance in order to sort out the rivalry among the two gangs. Unfortunately Richarson’s vocal performance of the evening was not probably to his utmost perfection with a few breaks between reaching higher notes. A nervous feat as many of the character’s songs, unlike much of the choral-based work in the production, are often sung completely solo with very little orchestral accompaniment. As a singer myself, I tip my hat to a man who has that kind of bravery and dedication to not let any mistakes show in his acting. Nevertheless even behind the occassional crack, one could hear the smoothness of Richardson’s natural tone, one that even Jimmy Bryant (the uncredited singing voice of Tony in 1961, in case you didn’t know) would be proud and even enviable of.

Miss Leith, in her Hispanic beauty as Maria, is someone those in the musical world should really look out for. An unbelieveable soprano with crystal clear clarity and emotion shook the audience to silence with her resonating sound. Her character is also one of great interest, even in its original context of “Juliet”. The complicated balance between the reality of a young and naive girl only beginning to understand the ways of the world, and the steadfast and sure maturity of a young woman who is unafraid to follow her heart will always be difficult to portray. Leith’s performance was commendable as she showed both the contrast in innoncence when compared to her “older” female counterparts such as Anita (her brother’s sizzling and cynical girlfriend) and her inner strength and emotion when in Tony’s presence- a certainty of self and a loving passion that is brought out by her love. Very impressive.

The tension between the two gangs is penetrable, and you can feel the misguided hate that only grows with the love between the two protagonists. An interesting point about the director Amy Glover’s interpretation is the portrayal of the two gangs. In numerous others, the audience are expected to see the “Sharks” as the victims, unloved and taking the brunt of racial brutality in an unjust American society. Here, with the Glasgow Music Theatre company, the rivalry between the Sharks and the Jets is not one of good versus evil, right vesus wrong, but one more identifiable with people of Glasgow in particular- teenagers and young adults with nothing to do, nothing to feel important by apart from their territory. Any young person in Scotland can draw parallels between the Sharks and the Jets and the real life “young teams” which spread from inner city violent gangs to vandalising thugs in even the seemingly most tame suburban villages. Maybe it’s because we’re Glasgwegian and can finally live up to our own aggressive stereotypes, but this production, though including similarities to previous productions, obviously fought to break away from the smoke and mirrors of what it “might” be like if there was rivalry between gangs of young people, and sought to deliver a performance that was more real, gritty and believable.

Naturally, this production emphasised on strong emotions, not just of love and hate, but fire, passion, drive and pride, something seen very clearly through Bernardo (leader of the Sharks played by John McGlone) and his senorita girlfriend Anita (Rhona Hastings). Both represent the almost stereotype of Hispanic culture- great pride in background and a spark in character that lends its hand to both violence and a heightened sexual awareness. Not only were both talented singers but their stage presence was captivating. It may have been the sly colour coordination of Bernardo’s shirt and socks (thank you Nicola Coffield), or Anita’s fiery dancing, but it is certain one could not take their eyes off either during their time on stage.

Of course, all this talk of passion and gritty violence does not mean that there wasn’t a few laughs and a few tears. Undoubtedly songs such as “America” and  “Gee, Officer Krupke” could not have worked without the genius of comedy timing, with the latter performance bringing the house to stitches, as well as allowing other secondary roles, such as Anita and her girls and Jets member “Action” to take the centre stage and show us what they’ve really got. Obviously, the end of the play is always tragic as is the genre of Shakespeare’s original, and it was easy to see the tears rolling down a few audience members faces when Tony is shot by Chino, one of the Sharks, and is found by a devastated Maria. The intensity and stillness of the final scene was enough to bring a lump to anyone’s throat.

However, what I love most about this performance is the obvious unity within the company. Yes, there are the “main parts” with so many lines and solo songs and opportunities to be seen, but ultimately, this production worked so well because no matter if the performer was an extra, an understudy, a dancer or a protagonist, they acted, sang and danced their heart out and gave their role their all. “West Side Story” does not rely on its plot, or its music or anything to carry the play along. It can only work– and did only work–so well because there is an understanding that each moment on stage is one filled with energy and importance. I have a feeling that were this production to take a tour around Scotland, the performance would only go from strength to strength and all members of the company should be proud of such an achievement. Well done to all at Glasgow Music Theatre and I’m sure I shall find all you readers at their next production, the award winning “COMPANY” at the Ramshorn Theatre in Glasgow’s Merchant City, 10 – 14 May 2011.  See you all there!

Paperbelle, North Edinburgh Arts Centre ****

Mary Brennan (27 Sep 2010)

Paperbelle likes things to be black and white.

So her entire world is just that: a white room, where everything – the radio, the teapot, even the clothes her friend Eric wears – is white, outlined and detailed in black. Rather like a colouring book waiting to be filled in. Only Paperbelle doesn’t want any colours altering the plain, blank surfaces she’s so at home with. When the colours do arrive – and the transformations are beautifully engineered, full of really clever surprises – Paperbelle doesn’t want to know. By the end she’s been won over and the little paper room around us is awash with rainbow brightness.

For tinies – this Frozen Charlotte production is aimed at the 2 – 5 age range – the whole piece is like a gleeful hide-and-seek adventure. Where will Paperbelle, a simple line drawing on a little card, pop up next? Deft backstage hands ensure that good-natured Eric (Stanley Pattison) is merrily bamboozled by the puppet, especially when the colours insist on playing their own games and Paperbelle, unnerved, keeps slipping out of sight.

In some ways, this is about being so small you have no control over your life which is scary, though the tots in this audience so loved the invading colours the only fear here was of small fingers ‘rescuing’ Paperbelle before she turned cheerfully technicolour.

Review of The Not-Do-Fatal Death of Granpa Fredo (Vox Motus)

by Christine Irvine, young promotER

Worryingly, Vox Motus’ newest production—pitch black comedy The Not-So-Fatal Death of Grandpa Fredo—is based on the true story of an enthusiastic Norwegian who, lacking tech and money, chose to bypass professional cryo-preservation for his grandpa and instead buried him in dry ice in his shed. Obvious material for a theatre production? Possibly not. But Vox’s interjection of a town’s worth of cartoonish characters and frequent, irreverent musical interludes transforms the very-nearly-true story into a scathing satire on the ethics of small-town America that almost ambushes the audience with big, complicated questions on life, death, faith and hope.

With the company’s usual whirlwind of imagination, Fredo is a triumph of theatricality. Watch out especially for the hilarious quickfire newscaster sequences; Officer Mac and Mayor Conquest speeding across the chilly countryside of Reliance Falls on their respective imaginary vehicles; the upsetting demise of a slow-motion fish— oh, and, the one tiny shed that contains the show’s entire universe.

But the real strength of Fredo—as well as every Vox show—is the ensemble cast who clearly put their heart and soul into every bizarre moment of the production.

Special plaudit has to go to Ewan Donald as the well-meaning Fridtijof Fredo— grandson of that unfortunate dead guy in the freezer. Clearly the easiest character to turn into a bumbling caricature, Donald’s Fredo is mild, sympathetic and, yes, slightly delusional. But in the end it’s the strength of his convictions that exposes the rickety ethics of his fellow townspeople, and packs the real emotional and intellectual punch of the story.

Another triumph for Vox Motus: as if they’re capable of anything else.

Go see it.

A Review of “Real Men Dream in Black and White”
The NTS Exchange Group
By Andrea Preston (young promotER)

Apparently…Boys are emotional?

Yes ladies, I come baring the secrets of the young man which have baffled many a female mind since the beginning of human relationships. According to new production “Real Men Dream in Black and White”, a devised piece directed by Lissa Lorenzo, young men actually have dreams, embarrassing stories and *gasp* pressures put on them by other of their gender. The particular show I came to see on Sunday 27th June at Eastwood Park Theatre was a warming up performance for the four lad cast and the crew before they headed up to do another show in St Andrews. Not sure what to expect, I entered cautiously into the theatre with the rest of the 70 member audience, with my notepad and pen at the ready. What I got was unexpected.

The performance opened with a simplistic set; a wall, hooks, benches- a replica of a PE changing room, where four men, ages ranging from about 16-25 would sit and the show would begin. For those uncertain with the term “devised theatre” it basically means there was no initial script to follow, no clear characters to practise, instead, a few basic ideas between actors and director, a stem from which their creativity and individuality can flow. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? The main idea behind this particular piece was taking a look at the expected role of men in society and the important transition from boy to man and how that “leap” is made. Surprisingly, a lot of the performance included a lot of abstract ideas and choreography that, at the beginning, was, admittedly, perhaps lost on some audience members. The message behind the boys and their continual running to the front of the stage and coming short of “leaping” off the stage soon became apparent, and I was sure to give myself a mental slap at having been a Higher English and Drama candidate unable to recognise symbolism.

The actors themselves were, to say the least, extremely impressive. Their almost perfect projection and clarity meant that more often the long monologues could be clearly heard throughout the auditorium. Their concentration and energy is also something worth mentioning. Many a theatre goers know that these two skills really are the key elements to making a performance fantastic and gosh did these boys deliver! It was the actors’ great attention to these that made the changes in atmosphere so seamless- one minute, the boys were light heartedly dancing and “catwalking” on stage, and then suddenly, the youngest was being beaten by the others. Such shock and unease felt by the audience just could not have been achieved without their obvious dedication and practise.

The slightly disturbing example from above, however, does not mean this production did not include its fair share of humour and heart. In particular, one Calum Coutts- the one who shows being a man is being “ginger with a beard”- made me laugh every time, his timing and clarity ensuring every single pun was heard and received heartily by the audience.

However, I think what made this performance one of a kind and truly memorable was the heart- warming approach to the lives and stories of all four of the guys on stage. I was told after the show, much to my surprise that the stories used by the boys about their lives were real, which really allowed their own personalities to shine through. I could feel myself smiling and even swooning at stories of someone’s “first flat” and bid for independence, relationships with older siblings, friendships which grew throughout the years… I was actually quite enlightened. As a teenage girl, I have grown up sceptical of the emotional ability of men, but I’m pretty pleased to announce to the world- or at least whoever you are dear reader- that yes! Men do feel pressure, pain, love, excitement and even fear. They want to impress, they want to be accepted and they want to know that life will turn out alright in the future. Although the stage blacked out as the boys ran again, approaching the edge together, I have no doubts that they would have all made the leap and walked confidently on to the next stage of manhood without looking back.

A big hand to not only the actors, but the crew and their fantastic director. I wish you all the best of luck in your next performances.

Salsa Celtica
Review by Andrea Preston (Young PromotER)
Thursday 27 May, 2010

Jigs with Bongos?
On attending the Salsa Celtica gig at Eastwood Theatre I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been given the impression of a band that took influences from both Latin American and ceilidh music. Puzzled? So was I. But I was informed by a valuable source (my mother) that they were a very good band. Still, I was doubtful. I am, after all, a sixteen year old girl, who enjoys rock music and parties. What enjoyment could I gain from this?

However, I am happy to report on the excellent night I indeed had on Thursday 27th May. Salsa Celtica’s refreshing fusion of Latin and traditional Scottish and Irish music is both interesting and endearing. This 10- piece band honestly do make you want to get up and dance (more on that later). As a student studying Spanish it was also quite delightful to hear the smooth tones of the Latin American lead vocals, although I admit that in my four years in studying the language, the only thing I could really pick up was “Adios, Adios” (“Goodbye, Goodbye” for those who are curious). One would think that such a large band’s texture and timbre would be over-bearing and perhaps a little bit messy, but Salsa Celtica’s approach in integrally involving all of its players equally made their sound so much more original. While on one end of the stage, instruments like the tin whistle, the fiddle and the banjo would be playing jig-like patterns, the other side would perform rhythmic and syncopated bongo and percussion beats along with velvety smooth jazz inspired saxophones. The end result was, to put it lightly, quite phenomenal. I could imagine myself walking around Rio de Janiero- or rather, salsa dancing- to the sound of this band’s quite impressive sound. The second act included even more surprises, with Glasgow- based singer Naomi Harvey who gave an a capella performance in Gaelic, as well as joining the band in a few numbers. Her courage alone was commendable, not to mention her, almost hauntingly beautiful and emotive voice which easily silenced the room completely. You must get it by now? The music was very good.

The atmosphere is also something worth mentioning. Although many, like me, were initially reluctant to join in the “audience participation” dancing at the front of the stage, it was soon clear that, although subtle, Salsa Celtica definitely held stage presence. One didn’t need to feel the pulse of each song, because it was almost certain you could hear it enthusiastically from the clapping hands of the person next to you, and the person next to them, and the person next to them…

I suppose my only real complaint of the night was the slight feeling of restraint in sitting down during the concert. I’m certain were it all standing there would be no barrier to stop the impulsive urge to attempt the odd mixture of saucy salsa and lively jigging that the band were trying to promote. Of course there were those who braved this, making their way to the front of the stage almost immediately (to which the less courageous audience members applauded). However, I am pleased that, by the end of the show, the pull of the music finally triumphed over the evils of embarrassment and many a folk– myself included- did join the initially small group of dancers for a fantastic finale to the evening.

What else can I say really? A great band, a good atmosphere and a very enjoyable evening for people of all ages. I would highly recommend seeing Salsa Celtica to anyone, but if you’d rather re-create the vibe in a more private setting, their new live album “En Vivo en el Norte” is available to buy off of their website:


Laurel and Hardy
Review by Neil Campbell
Mull Theatre Productions  Friday 16 April 2010

What a fantastic performance, being able to relive some of the many sketches created by the double act “Laurel & Hardy”, as well as learning their life story. From their unlikely childhoods, through silent and talkies, to their untimely deaths. Did they outlive their time?  I think this show proves otherwise, and just goes to show, that the best never does go out of fashion. With such a fast moving show, enjoyed the very well designed lift. Really enjoyed this show, must see for any comedy fan, kept me alert for the whole performance, especially when I though I was going to end up with a box on my lap in the front row. When are they next in Glasgow?


One Up One Down
Review by Neil Campbell
Gilmore Productions  Thursday 15 April 2010

What a fabulous show. Took a little to get into. Really good atmospheric entr’acte, giving the audience an insight to the rest of the performance. Really enjoyed the dance with the chicken (baby) and found that each individual’s story very powerful. Overall a very amusing performance with a well developed storyline. Would love to visit that store sometime!


Review by Christine Irvine
Blackeyed Theatre in association with South HillPark Arts Centre  Friday 12 March 2010

Thrown together in only two weeks, Blackeyed Theatre’s production of Alfie is every inch as energetic and colourful as its infamous protagonist, with a cast just as capable of multi-tasking.

Edward Elks takes the role of the cockney lothario and, happily, is spot-on throughout, utterly nailing Alfie’s tenuous combination of charm and unadulterated self-centeredness. By the end of the performance you’ll wonder why on earth you don’t totally detest him—but it’s a tribute not only to Bill Naughton’s original writing, but also Elks’ effortlessly potent performance, that you never do. Put simply, if you go in expecting Michael Caine, you won’t be disappointed—Elks is better.

In Alfie’s world, the supporting characters really are bit-part players— but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining. Gabrielle Meadows and Lisa Howard shine as Alfie’s merry-go-round of conquests (nine roles altogether!) imbuing every one of them with individual personality and vigour that, unfortunately, our free-living ‘Don Juan’ utterly fails to notice. For comedy value, watch out especially for Flo the canteen lady busking her way through to the end of the interval (“Alfie’s been detained… amazing what you can fit into fifteen minutes…”).

But it isn’t just the cast: the whole production crackles with style. A special mention has to go to Ian McDougall’s rollicking soundtrack (ably performed live by the spare cast members whenever they don’t have any lines to say) which is the perfect accompaniment to Alfie’s care-free attitude and pulls us effortlessly scene to scene, refusing to let even the most poignant moments ‘put the block on’.

However, don’t for a minute think this is a show that won’t linger. I took my mum as a Mother’s Day pressie and she’s still raving about it, and that’s a recommendation if ever there was one.

As I write, there’s still fifteen dates available— so all I can say is buy a ticket, go and see it, “leave your worries at the door and enjoy the banter”. Altogether, a fab night out.

Promises, Promises
Review by Christine Irvine
Random Accomplice Theatre Company Thursday 11 February 2010

Promises, Promises is miles away from the darkly comedic tale of supply-teaching shenanigans I was expecting. The subject matter is unflinchingly pitch black, but the pretty much astounding solo performance of Joanna Tope as re-instated primary teacher Miss Brodie (no, not that one), the beautifully evocative soundtrack and the imaginative use of visual effects to create the eerie figure of ‘demonically possessed’ five year-old Rosie combine to keep the audience enthralled even throughout the play’s perhaps overly long 90 minute running time.

Promises, Promises
Review by Neil Campbell
Random Accomplice Theatre Company Thursday 11 February 2010

Promises Promises is a fabulous show, originally written as a radio play, Johnny McKnight a fabulous director, has changed this show for the stage. Through the intricate details of Set, Sound and light, he manages to effectively portray the changing setting, and the continuous plot, to the audience. I would throughly reccomend coming to see any of Johnny’s shows, as many of them are out of this world!


Review by Christine Irvine
Rapture Theatre Company Saturday 20 February 2010

Rapture Theatre’s modern day re-working of Hamlet attempts to bring Shakespeare’s most famous play bang up to date by dragging the characters and their associated plotlines out of the 17th century, plonking them down in the middle of contemporary Glasgow and pretty much leaving them to fend for themselves. It’s a neat idea—the kingdom of Denmark becomes the disreputable Denmark Corp., Prince Hamlet is the student heir to his recently deceased father’s business fortune—but in my opinion the company loses out by not pushing the concept far enough, rendering the production’s main shout-out to originality a little superfluous. Luckily, this minor failure is eclipsed by the timelessness of Shakespeare’s original text and the excellent performances of the ensemble cast.

Of special mention are Emily Jane Boyle as Ophelia, who manages her character’s transition from lovelorn maiden to despairing madwoman with great control and sensitivity, and David Tarkenter’s Claudius, who is so slimy and menacing it’s frankly amazing it takes Hamlet’s mother Queen Gertrude (Valerie Gogan, not given nearly enough to do) quite as long as it does to recognize him as her first husband’s murderer.

Grant O’Rourke as Hamlet is obviously enjoying himself in the young prince’s maddest moments, dragging laughs out of a play that is traditionally the very definition of tragedy. However, he seems to lose his energy whenever he comes to one of those famous soliloquies and as a result the darker aspects of the character feel a bit blunted.

Overall, Hamlet is a production that doesn’t quite have the guts to realize its full potential, but the modern day setting and engaging cast make it a great introduction to one Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

East Renfrewshire Youth Theatre Thursday 18 February 2010
Review by Neil Campbell

Guy’s see what you can do! Now you all know yourselves what a brilliant performance you can put on if you put all that hard work in. You should all hold your heads up high after the performance! The story of rhinoceros may be a just a little strange, but subtextually it is brilliant. Loved the set, especially the little changes to show the different places, this just goes to show how set props can completely change the setting, especially for the audiences perception. Sound Design was very effective, and I liked the way the stage itself had also been painted! Lights were also extreamly well designed. Well done Emily for remembering all those lines! I think this is definitely an upcoming group to keep an eye out for in the future! Well done to all involved I think you should all give yourself a pat on the back!

The Nutcracker
Review by Neil Campbell

What a fabulous show, the technical accuracy of the lifts, and solo dances were very professional and shows just how much trust the dancers have in each other. Very well done! Would love to come and see another show should you come back again in Eastwood Park Theatre. You guys very much wowed me with the lifts, many of them i have recently applied in my own experiences of dance


REVIEW of Balance by Neil Campbell (young promotER)

This is a really worthwhile performance. I found Balance really powerful as a dance. Showing the in-depth feelings of those with bi-polar disorder, and at the same time breaking barriers, raising awareness of mental health. This is a performance that should tour schools just as importantly as those carrying a message of Road Safety.

I also went to the residency that coincided with Balance. This was a really powerful week. Working on the idea that only one person is different and the rest of us are “normal” We set about creating a dance. We used masks so that the audience would be tricked into think that we were different. At the end of the day we are all human and nothing and no-one can take our species away from us. We are all different in our own way.

Black Swan I think have got huge potential in becoming a well known theatre company. Would love to see them in the near future especially at Eastwood Park Theatre, and a much larger audience.
Review of Bright Black

by Neil Campbell (young promotER)

What an AMAZING performance. I found this a brilliant show, filled to the brim with non-stop action. Gets you really thinking about magic and illusions. Told my mates later on that night, so disappointed that they hadn’t come. Recommend the next time Vox Motus are in town, get onto 0141 577 4970 asap, and I am sure that their next so will be just as mind blowing as Bright Black.
Review of Fortunate Sons

By Neil Campbell (young promotER)fortunate-sons

I recently helped out with the Fortunate Sons gig at Eastwood Park Theatre. From experience, I never go to a performance of any sort with an idea in my head. Well try not to anyway. And for this performance I am really glad. Having never herd of the band before, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. They performed a fabulous non-stop set, and brought a brilliant atmosphere to the auditorium. They regularly communicated to the audience, showing that they are still human. I loved the music they played, and very much so enjoyed the contrasting styles. I would recommend anyone to go and see this wonderful band. For those of you who aren’t sure it’s for you, come along and give it a try. At the end of the day, you might even find you enjoy yourself, and buy the album at the end of the performance. I also want to emphasise the age range i think of the audience, 9-85. This is a versatile band.
Potato Needs a bath – Coming to EPT from 9 -14 November


Potato needs a bath, G12, Gilmorehill, Glasgow

Chips anyone? You may think twice after seeing this play
Mary Brennan

Published on 2 Nov 2009

The merry medley of fruit and veg that Shona Reppe associates with in this delightfully whimsical puppet play probably doesn’t count towards the five-a-day recommended for young and old.

Actually, after watching the way Reppe cunningly characterises her highly realistic cast, some tender souls might baulk at nibbling Mr and Mrs Pear or their son William. As for chips? Perish the thought – not least because we’ve all gathered together for Potato’s birthday party, though if he doesn’t allow Reppe to give him a bath, our little mud-encrusted chum with the funny voice won’t be joining in any of the games.

The two to four-year-olds that Reppe had in mind when she devised this piece are, quite rightly, captivated by the imaginatively crafted miniature world on stage, and by the way ordinary objects are suddenly transformed so that a teapot turns into a lamp, or a rotary whisk becomes a telephone. And when a wee chest of drawers is used like a doll’s house, full of intriguing occupants – the baby carrots, snoozing in one compartment, the bejewelled boudoir of an operatic aubergine in another – then the stream of witty surprises seems endless. Sly puns, appreciated by attendant adults, cheerfully cheesy music and Reppe’s own amiable star quality – she narrates/manipulates/chats and sings – are underpinned by meticulous production values and an attention to detail that doesn’t deal in compromise.

Mischievous Potato scrubs up beautifully, but there are a few more twists and some inspired visual tricks before it’s time to cover up the fruit bowl and reluctantly say goodbye to a solo performance packed with vitamins M and F (Magic and Fun – essential to wellbeing!).

Star rating: ****




Excellent concert, great night. Support band the Maccollective were very good, and well worth seeing in their own right, but McGoldrick was fabulous. I’d seen an acoustic gig as a trio, and also the big band 3 maybe 4 years ago. Although acoustic, last night was nearer in sound and feel to the full band. Big rich complex and powerful, great interplay, fantastic musicianship, hugely hugely enjoyable.

And not far off full house either. Massively mixed audience. all sorts and ages. Maybe a wee bit douce still, but a very good atmosphere nevertheless. A terrific night out at Eastwood Park Theatre.



Bright Black at Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock, East Renfrewshire
By Robert Dawson Scott

The last show by Vox Motus was called Slick, and slick it certainly was, enough to win the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland prize for technical excellence last year. To judge by this latest brief but equally impressive effort, that was no fluke. This show is a meditation on loss and mourning as a young woman, Claire (Meline Danielewicz), tries to come to terms with the death of her lover, retreating into her apartment and silence. The stages of grief through which she passes — denial, anger, guilt and so on — are broadly familiar, conventional even. The execution is anything but.

From the moment that Martin McCormick’s Cerberus, the canine guardian of Hades who may or may not also be the shade of her boyfriend, explodes out the darkness at the back of the stage to start the show, there is a continually surprising succession of images, tricks and tableaux.

Much use is made of black-light techniques though because it is so artfully lit (Simon Wilkinson) there is none of that tiresome UV glow and no sign of the technical back-up. Objects are thrown into the air and stay there. Memories wrapped in black plastic bags crash in from the ceiling. The set, reduced to a series of wire frames that pull up from the floor and collapse down again, suggests a life reduced to the minimum.

Such trickery requires a high degree of innovation for it not to pall. But here, probably because it was built in from the ground up, with the creators Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison as writers, directors and designers, it never jars and at moments leaves you with that delicious frisson of pleasure at the cleverness of it all.

There isn’t all that much text. Danielewicz and McCormick express their condition through movement and dance choreographed by Natasha Gilmore. And in the end it is a modest show. But it is beautifully formed.


Touring to Oct 31:


12 responses

1 10 2009
1 10 2009

Source: The Scotsman

Opera review: Katya Kabanova

Published Date: 12 September 2009


YOU don’t often get to see the bright side of Janacek’s harrowing opera Katya Kabanova, the preference (as in English Touring Opera’s spring production this year in Perth) being to go big on black for a love story that ends with the heroine diving in to the Volga and her hideous mother-in-law cooing over her successful mental campaign to drive Katya to it.

So how refreshing to see this small scale travelling production by Kally Lloyd-Jones for Scottish Opera offer a bit of light and shade in its slick presentation.

The sets are simple for the obvious reason – to fit the many compact, out-of-the way venues being covered in the company’s ensuing tour. For the opening performance in Giffnock, it provided a homely backdrop to a tale whose outward simplicity is offset by Janacek’s ravishingly intense musical score. That’s where the real mental brutality lies. The majority of the cast fits into it like a glove, including endearing performances from Caryl Hughes as Varvara and Ben Thapa as Kudrjash, but they are the brighter couple. Nadine Livingston’s Katya was powerful (almost overpowering at times), but her words (in English) weren’t always clear. However, she portrayed her uneasy relationships with gutsy conviction.

In other key roles, Michael Bracegirdle played Boris with piercing bravado. Simon Crosby Buttle captured throughout Tikhon’s tussle between domineering mother and frustrated wife. The rounded woolly quality of Emma Carrington’s Kabanicha didn’t quite match the character’s acerbic nature.

But what a champion pianist Ian Ryan was, single-handedly transforming Janacek’s heated orchestral colourings into a solo piano marathon, and losing none of its emotive power in the process. Quite unexpectedly, he actually intensified aspects of it – its rich rhapsodic outbursts and the inherent simplicity of Janacek’s ideas.

An illuminating evening.

1 10 2009

Bright Black
Source: The List (Issue 639)
Date: 3 September 2009
Written by: Kelly Apter

Unless something goes drastically wrong during the ‘sawing a lady in half’ trick, death and magic don’t usually mix. At Vox Motus, however, the art of illusion lies at the heart of all they do. And now, the Glasgow-based theatre company which wowed audiences with last year’s award-winning Slick, is tackling the complicated subject of grief.

Co-created by Jamie Harrison and Candice Edmunds, Bright Black centres on a woman struggling to cope with the sudden death of her fiancé. Lost inside the grieving process, she descends into a kind of underworld where nothing is as it seems.

‘The different ways that people deal with death was the starting point for us,’ explains Edmunds. ‘We were originally inspired by a friend of Jamie’s, whose fiancée died in tragic circumstances and her mother went on a round the world trip, which was very cathartic. So we decided to send our central character on a journey, but through a mythical landscape rather than the real world.’

Conscious that the production should be moving but not relentlessly bleak, Vox Motus has balanced the heavy subject matter with some entertaining theatrical nuances.

‘Illusion has always found its way into our productions but this time we’re using it as a staging concept,’ says Edmunds. ‘We’ve created a void from which objects or characters can appear, and a gravity-defying environment seemed the perfect way to tell a story of grief which wasn’t morose. And because the illusion has the wow factor, it’s visually a real treat.’

2 Oct 7.30 Eastwood Park Theatre, Glasgow

1 10 2009

Food Festival Kicks Off With Farmers’ Market In Clarkston

Sep 10 2009 – Glaswegian

A SPECIAL farmers’ market at Clarkston on Saturday will launch East Renfrewshire’s first food festival.

The festival, which will run until Sunday, September 20, will be run in association with Lanarkshire Farmers’ Market.

The market will be open from 9am till 1pm and will include live music and cooking demos as well as fresh produce.

Major events in Eastwood Park Theatre include Cooks, Canapes and Cocktails on Thursday, September 17, featuring top chef John Quigley along with the Woman Who Ate Scotland, Nell Nelson.

During the festival, expect cooking workshops, tasting sessions and other events run by local retailers and restaurants with local produce on offer to tantalise the palate.

A series of authors’ talks and educational events in schools and libraries will also whet the appetite.

1 10 2009

Bright Black
Vox Motus

Bright Black asks much of its audience. It isn’t an easy production to watch, even if it has much to be in awe over, but it is still a very satisfying experience.

“The staging techniques are filled with sheer imaginative brilliance”The play is a three-hander. Claire’s boyfriend has died unexpectedly and she has shut herself inside her empty flat, completely overcome by grief. Fay stands outside, doing the best she can to get through to her friend. However, Claire’s grief has physically manifested itself into the form of a demon-like creature that taunts her with memories and false promises.

With a running time of under an hour, the production covers a lot of ground, both in plot and emotion. It manages to do so with staging techniques that are filled with sheer imaginative brilliance. As great as all three actors are, the true heroes of this are the design and technical team, too great in number to list but each deserving a standing ovation of their own. It is a production that, to the untrained eye, looks simple but is in fact so complicated that it is easy to bypass the story and just marvel in the way each staging point is executed.

This is not to take away from the cast, each of whom plays a convincing character well. Jenny Hulse has the difficult job of being the outsider for most of the time, a character forced to stand powerless on the sidelines. Meline Danielewicz’s Claire is constantly engaging with her heartbreak. The play pretty much hinges on whether you believe in the power of her grief, and you most certainly will.

However, in many ways the most difficult role falls to Martin McCormick. As Cerberus, McCormick must jump, climb and clamour about, contort himself, disappear and reappear fluidly and vocalise sections in a wheezy voice. It is a very difficult task that he is more than game for, and it makes his confrontations with Claire all the more powerful.

The play greatly affected me in two ways. On an intellectually plane, I actually wanted more. That isn’t to say that what is offered isn’t rich; it is. But, perhaps like the child who after a 30-minute fireworks display still wants the bangs and booms to continue, I felt that more could have been done, both with the characters and with the staging techniques.

And yet, on an emotional level, the play carried great resonance. Even with a short running time, the production had not only moved me but took me on an emotional rollercoaster. I not only felt completely satisfied with everything that happened but found feelings and emotions from the production still stirring inside for hours on end.

by Michael Cox

1 10 2009

Bright Black
Published Monday 21 September 2009 at 10:55 by Thom Dibdin

Enthralling in its construction and compelling in its revelation of grief and the grieving process, in Bright Black the writing, directing and design team of Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison has found an admirable balance.

At its heart lies an intense and utterly convincing performance from Meline Danielewicz as Claire, a recently bereaved young woman whose partner has died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage. After his funeral, she returns to the flat they shared with her friend Fay (Jenny Hulse).
The set, like the flat, is utterly bare. A room-sized black box frame open at front and sides. The skeletal frames of a door, fireplace and window fold out of the floor when needed. Around it, crawling up and down the poles and whispering in from the outside, is Martin McCormick’s Cerberus – unseen by the two women.
As Claire pushes Fay away, it is her relationship with Cerberus, the beast of her imagination, which marks the passage of her grief. Her thoughts of suicide, survivor’s guilt and longing for her partner’s touch again culminate in his recreation as Cerberus appears on stage in his form.
Brilliant use of black art illusion ensure that he appears both in her imagination and to the audience. Seamless in technique, the illusion is introduced with great artistic understanding. Used first to allow Claire to bring household objects onto the stage, by the time of Cerberus’ manifestation, it has become part of the play’s vernacular.

A technical and emotional triumph by a company who successfully use innovative ideas to explore complex issues.

1 10 2009

BRIGHT BLACK (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 16 September 2009, and touring)
17 September 2009
MARK FISHER evaluates the latest creation from the imaginative Glasgow-based Vox Motus.

“THIS IS how you imagine people suffer,” says Martin McCormick’s Cerberus to Meline Danielewicz’s Claire. He’s complaining because the young woman has gone into a state of such neurotic grief since the unexpected death of her boyfriend that it’s as if she’s playing at being bereaved, acting like she thinks people are supposed to act rather than just getting on with it.

I’m with Cerberus on this one. Grief hits people in different ways, but on the whole, they don’t lock themselves in their flats, refuse to talk to their best friends and go into a kind of paralysis.

And even if they did, it wouldn’t be very dramatic. The limitation of Bright Black is that it’s about the aftermath of something, not the main event. It starts and finishes with a woman bereaved and has almost no development in between. In this, it is closer to a poem or a piece of dance than a regular play, exploring a mood by means of only the thinnest of narrative threads. It strikes a chord and sticks to it.

But what a chord! The show – written, directed and designed by Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison of Vox Motus – is a gorgeous piece of imaginative theatre, staged with meticulous attention to detail. Drawing heavily on Harrison’s skills as a magician, it creates a dream-like world where objects appear out of nowhere and float away of their own accord and where, at one point, even the laws of gravity do not apply.

Although Claire has stripped the flat down to the floorboards, the memories keep floating back, sometimes as a face projected onto a stream of dust cascading from the ceiling, sometimes in the form of the dead man’s coat that takes on a life of its own, and sometimes in the bin-bags that drop from above stuffed with his possessions.

Even a television remote control can spark an association – momentarily we see a football match projected onto her clothes – and when she’s bold enough to look out of the window (which, like so much else in this visually elegant show, emerges from beneath the stage’s floorboards) it ushers in haunting visions of the life she might have led.

Cerberus, as classical scholars will have noted, was the three-headed dog who guarded the gates to the underworld. Here, he symbolises the lingering presence of death and the seductive possibility that Claire should take her own life.

Joined by Jenny Hulse as the concerned friend, the actors perform with choreographic precision, circling, spinning, flapping with an upfront physicality that manages not to seem contrived. Throw in Michael John McCarthy’s ever-present score and you have a consummately staged show that more than makes up in poetic stagecraft what it lacks in drama.

© Mark Fisher, 2009

1 10 2009

Some pics from a recent art workshop in the theatre.

1 10 2009

Another nice piece from the Eastwood Mercury

1 10 2009
Food Festival 2009 « Welcome to Eastwood Park Theatre's blog

[…] Previews / Reviews […]

16 11 2009
14 03 2011
Smalltown review « Welcome to Eastwood Park Theatre's blog

[…] Previews / Reviews […]

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