• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Get set for music, sport and cutting edge drama

Now that the pantomime season has drawn to a close, there is only the briefest pauses for breath before theatres across Scotland open their doors again for what looks like a tantalising year ahead with both home-grown and touring shows.

ivor cutler: The Glasgow-born poet will be honoured in his home city in April.
ivor cutler: The Glasgow-born poet will be honoured in his home city in April.

First out the traps is the Royal Lyceum Company, Edinburgh, with a new production of Eugene O'Neill's family-based epic, A Long Day's Journey Into Night (January 17-February 8). Tony Cownie will direct a cast that features well-known television faces Paul Shelley and Diana Kent.

While touring productions of West Side Story (King's Theatre, Glasgow, January 15-25) and Evita (Edinburgh Playhouse, January 27-February 8) are sure to pack in audiences, the only other Scottish production to open in January is 1933: Eine Nacht Im Kabarett (January 22-February 2), Tightlaced Theatre's production of Susanna Mulbihill's new play at Summerhall. Focusing on 1930s Berlin and Hitler's rise to power, Mulvihill's play was highlighted on these pages at the end of 2013 as an example of a fertile independent theatre scene in Edinburgh.

The ambitious Sell A Door theatre company open a stage version of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped at the Beacon Arts Centre , Greenock (January 16), while the Citizens Theatre , Glasgow, opens its doors, first for a visit from the Traverse Theatre with its Edinburgh Festival Fringe hit Ciara (January 21-25), starring Blythe Duff, then with Filter's radical reworking of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (January 28-February 1).

The biggest draw of January, however, will be the first Scottish sighting of War Horse (Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, January 14- February 15), the Royal National Theatre's stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's novel.

Apart from the ingenious puppetry in the show, War Horse, which was developed as an experiment in the National Theatre Studio before going on to become a global phenomenon, is probably the best advertisement for the importance of public arts subsidy in enabling ideas to bear fruit.

February sees a flurry of big musicals touring to Scotland, with a stage version of the Vangelis-scored Olympic Games set film Chariots Of Fire (King's Theatre, Glasgow, February 4-8), Rod Stewart jukebox musical Tonight's The Night (Edinburgh Playhouse, February 17-22) and a musical stage version of the 1970s comedy Happy Days (King's Theatre, Glasgow, February 24-March 1).

While the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh hosts the latest instalment of Manipulate (February 3-8), the annual international festival of visual-based theatre, one of the most anticipated shows of the month looks certain to be Miss Julie (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, February 6-15).

Dominic Hill's production uses Zinnie Harris' version of Strindberg's dark chamber piece, which was previously seen in a production by the National Theatre of Scotland, and puts it on the Citz's main stage. With Sherlock star Louise Brealey just announced to play the title role, this may well prove to be one of the highlights of the year.

The Citz will also host the return of Glasgow Girls (February 20-March 8), Cora Bissett and David Greig's musical play based on real-life events surrounding a group of young refugee girls who took on the system and won.

Greig makes another appearance in February, this time as director of This Wide Night (Tron Theatre, Glasgow, February 20-March 15), Chloe Moss' 2008 play about two women who once shared a prison cell, and who meet up on the outside. Elaine C Smith and River City star Jayd Johnson play the women in what looks set to be a hard-hitting study of two people holding on to each other for dear life.

In March, the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh opens Union (March 20-April 12), a timely new play by Tim Barrow that takes a scurrilous look at how Scotland came to sign the Act Of Union with England in 1707. Delving even further into history is playwright Howard Brenton in Eternal Love (King's Theatre, Edinburgh, March 18-22), which looks at the romance between 12th century philosopher Peter Abelard and his pupil, Heloise, in a production first seen at Shakespeare's Globe.

If such a set-up sounds obscure to some, bear in mind that Brenton's last play to be seen in Edinburgh, Anne Boleyn, revitalised its subject with a treatment that fused contemporary language with politically-charged satire in one of the best visiting shows of 2012.

There are more politics in April via a touring stage version of Brassed Off (King's Theatre, Edinburgh, April 28-May 3), while Dundee Rep open Cars And Boys (April 11-26), a new play by Stuart Paterson that finds a woman battling with her own mortality. The major show that month, however, looks set to be The Beautiful Cosmos Of Ivor Cutler (Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, April 9-20).

As reported on these pages in 2013, Vanishing Point's collaboration with the National Theatre Of Scotland looks set to be an impressionistic homage to the Glasgow-born poet, songwriter and performer who became a cult figure by way of his appearance in the Beatles film, Magical Mystery Tour, as well as his numerous radio sessions on the late John Peel's show.

With a live band on stage, Matthew Lenton's production will also feature long-term Vanishing Point collaborator Sandy Grierson playing Mr Cutler.

In May, the Citz brings decadence back home with The Libertine (May 3-24), Stephen Jeffreys' no-holds-barred look at the life and times of John Wilmot, poet, pleasure-seeker and the second Earl Of Rochester.

The Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, meanwhile, presents Pressure (May 1-24), a new play by actor David Haig set during the Second World War, when Dalkeith-born meteorologist James Stagg must advise General Eisenhower on the best time to send troops across the English Channel in one of the most crucial manoeuvres of the entire war.

Commonwealth Games fever takes hold in June, with the Citz hosting large-scale community show, Sports Day (June 4-7), while the NTS takes over the South Rotunda building beside the Clyde for another large-scale project, The Tin Forest (dates to be confirmed).

All of which should keep audiences busy until the Edinburgh Festivals season comes around.

Beyond that, the stage version of Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill's sit-com, Still Game (September 19-October 9), has already announced many extra shows due to public demand, and may be the ideal post-referendum antidote in a theatrical year to remember.

Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

203998