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Douglas McGrath - Beautiful - The Carole King Musical

Carole King never wanted to watch the musical play based on her life. This is what the iconic singer/song-writer who penned a stream of 1960s hits with husband and writing partner Gerry Goffin before recording her 1971 classic album, Tapestry, told Hollywood writer and director Douglas McGrath when the pair first met to talk about the project. McGrath's book would go on to be drawn from a series of interviews with King, Goffin and their song-writing contemporaries Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

King was happy to sign over the rights of such era-defining pop nuggets as Will You Love Me Tomorrow and the more reflective You've Got A Friend, but she didn't want her presence in the audience to distract from what was happening onstage. Given that some of that would be the breakdown of her marriage to Goffin, the idea of the audience looking at her while this was happening didn't appeal.

McGrath went along with this, and figured that once the show opened she'd soon change h…
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Angie Dight - Mischief-la-Bas and Nursery Crymes

When Mischief-la-Bas tell a story, it usually comes out a bit different to most other tall tales made flesh. The Glasgow-based interactive outdoors-based theatre company's long awaited take on nursery rhymes is no different. This should be apparent in Nursery Crymes, a brand new night time promenade performance, which explores the dark underbelly that lies at the heart of some of the world's best known children's stories.

With capacity for audiences of up to 400 in staggered groups, over two nights, Nursery Crymes will move through the back streets of Glasgow city centre. This will see those attending convene on King Street, before taking a trip into the depths of Mother Goose's forest. On an immersive on-set street created by artist/designer Bill Breckenridge, the so-called fun of the fair and other carnival headaches will be explored in the extravaganza of the F***ed-Up Fairground.
As the audience moves in, out and around four zones in the area roughly surrounding the…

Love and Information

Scottish Youth Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars

When the small screens on which digital captions display both the titles and dialogue of Caryl Churchill's remarkable 2012 work briefly fall prey to technical gremlins mid-way through, without a word, the glitch accidentally sums up everything both the play and this unique production is about. Broken into fifty bite-scenes divided into four sections bridged by artfully riotous scene-changes, Churchill's text strips language down to its bare minimum. This is done by way of a series of duo-logues that show people reaching out for each other, more often than not in vain.
In a world where social media, computer-generated communication and virtual technology keeps everything at an increasingly distant remove, flesh and blood encounters are increasingly brief. As each couple attempts to get to the heart of the matter in scenes sometimes barely longer than a sketch, plenty of room is left for interpretation.

This is certainly the case in J…

David Bates – La Clique Noel, The Famous Spiegeltent and Edinburgh's Christmas

Less than a year ago, David Bates thought he might well be done with Edinburgh. The owner and producer of the Famous Spiegeltent, who had transformed a ninety-seven year old construction into a global brand which in part had come to define the spirit of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, had been told that the site the Famous Spiegeltent had operated out of in St Andrew Square since 2014 was no longer available. Essential Edinburgh, who manage the site, said they wanted the Gardens to return to a “relaxation space,” although the short notice of their decision left the Famous Spiegeltent without a home for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  

All this created a bit of a kerfuffle, exacerbated somewhat by Edinburgh International Festival using St Andrew Square for this year's Standard Life sponsored opening event, the light-based spectacular, Bloom.

Ten months on, Bates is back in Edinburgh even if the Famous Spiegeltent as a physical entity isn't. A different spiegeltent is here, howeve…

Cabaret

The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Five stars

Will Young's pasty-faced Emcee pokes his head through the giant 'O' in the word 'WILLKOMMEN' that covers the stage curtain at the start of this touring revival of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb's finest musical hour. Young's peek-a-boo moment shatters through something monumental, even as it hails the coming new order. With Emcee the gate-keeper to Berlin's 1930s underground club scene, Young resembles a malevolent doll in leather lederhosen. By the end of the first act, Young is pulling the strings, as he leads a chilling version of Tomorrow Belongs To Me.
Such are the delicious contradictions of a show originally drawn from Christopher Isherwood's Berlin stories, with Young Olivier nominated when he first appeared in Rufus Norris' West End production five years ago. On the one hand, Joe Masteroff's book is a damning indictment of how austerity culture and mass disaffection is exploited by p…

Tabula Rasa

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

Mid-way through this stark meditation on loss, and the care that's required in the lead up to that loss, actress Pauline Goldsmith stands in the swirl of strings conjured up by the twelve musicians who surround her. Up until then, her character has been a kind of hospital ward-bound raconteur, reeling off warts and all yarns concerning the funeral of a friend called Peter, and his descent into death that pre-ceded it. Dressed in scarlet in a world of black and white, Goldsmith's deadpan and unflinching monologues at moments recall the taboo-busting elaborations of 1970s comedian Dave Allen.
In this cross-artform collaboration between Vanishing Point theatre company and the Scottish Ensemble, however, Goldsmith's punchlines come through four pieces by Estonian composer Arvo Part. With the Scottish Ensemble playing them live, as Goldsmith stands among the twelve musicians, it looks like they might have been conjured from her own mind …

David Paul Jones – Something There

When a track from David Paul Jones' Samuel Beckett inspired Something There album was played on the radio, a remarkable thing happened. Jones' contemporary classical suite, performed by the Ayrshire-born composer's eight-piece DPJ Ensemble, had been released by Linn Records, and was picked up by Australia's ABC Classic FM station. The third track, the wistfully named The Sun Comes and Goes in the Land of Woop-Woop, was a particular favourite. Over its nearly sixteen minutes duration, the music's layers of piano, cello and saxophone soaked ambience evolves into a heartfelt emotional meditation made flesh by its vocal arrangements.

When it was played, one listener emailed Jones care of Linn, to thank him for the piece. More specifically, the writer of the email was hospital-bound and in constant pain with terminal cancer. When he turned on the radio and heard Jones' music, however, as Jones remembers it, “He said for that moment, or for the track's duration, …