[18 Jul 2010 | Comments Off ]
More than a walking shadow?

Donnchadh O’Conaill examines CTC’s Macbeth under the microscope, Fellow’s Garden, 19/06/2010
Theatrically, in terms of its look and momentum, it was often striking
 Here’s an oddity. CTC’s Macbeth, which will fly Durham’s banner across England and the more civilised parts of America this summer, has a clear, well-integrated vision, a strong aesthetic, moments of brilliant direction, and is well cast in the crucial roles; and yet I found it curiously underwhelming. The simplest way I can put this is that the production was lopsided.
 Theatrically, in terms of its look and momentum, it …

[23 Jun 2010 | 2 Comments ]
Palace of the End

Daniel Turner reviews Palace of the End

The incredible atmosphere the audience were greeted with upon entry into the Assembly Rooms this week drastically confronted one’s connection with ‘the norm.’ As someone who strives to watch most of the productions at the theatre, this week the impulse proved profitable. Judith Thompson’s

[16 Jun 2010 | Comments Off ]
The Durham Revue Allstars

Dominic Wakeford reviews the Revue…

There aren’t many audiences, in Durham or elsewhere, who would sit for nearly four hours in the theatre without becoming, at the very least, a little fidgety. At the Assembly Rooms on Saturday though…

[5 May 2010 | 19 Comments ]
Blinded by the lights

Oedipus Rex, DotDotDot Productions, 4th – 6th March 2010
Billed as it was as “bold, dark and terrifying”, I attended Flo Vincent and Amy Higgins’ new adaptation of this Grecian tragedy with great anticipation. Oedipus Rex is a classical story of horrifying proportions: a headstrong young king sets out to solve a murder and in so doing identifies himself as the murderer, the murdered man as his own father and his new wife as his biological mother. Originally written by Sophocles as a warning against mortals trying to alter fate, the plot …

[22 Mar 2010 | 8 Comments ]
Send in the applause

Donnchadh O’Conaill is charmed by A Little Night Music, DULOG, Assembly Rooms, 10th - 13th March 2010
Thank goodness for this. Six reviews into the year, I can finally write one dispensing with a lengthy introduction about the failings of the play under consideration. A Little Night Music, my favourite Sondheim, is a Rolls-Royce of a script and a score; urbane, elegant, the chassis of a decent plot and strong characters finished with superb lines and sumptuous musical touches. Crucially, these elements are blended together to form a coherent piece of musical …

[18 Mar 2010 | 2 Comments ]
Disappointed by the first days of spring

Spring Awakening, Bailey Theatre Company, Leech Hall, 04/03/2010       
the play’s classical shape and sense of grandeur should give tragic resonance to its modern concerns
 I can understand why Ben Salter and Hannah Shand chose to stage Frank Wedekind’s late nineteenth-century drama. Its themes (sexuality, the repression of the young, the dangers of knowing too little or too much) are undeniably urgent; its sensibility (brash, occasionally vulgar) is undoubtedly contemporary. I can understand their choice, but I cannot applaud it. In my opinion, the Bailey Theatre Company’s latest production laboured under a significant, …

[15 Mar 2010 | 2 Comments ]
How did the Hild Bede Freshers’ play measure up?

Measure for Measure, Caedmon Hall, 10th – 13th February 2010
Hild Bede Theatre’s challenging vision of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure was always going to be an ambitious endeavour. With the director’s note stating that “Shakespeare can be tedious”, resulting in “a series of blasphemous cuts and changes”, it was unlikely to be the pedant’s dream performance. However, at times, it proved to be a refreshing and, often, vibrant interpretation of the bard’s great morality play.
From the very beginning, the audience was invited to gaze upon a seedy and depraved world; drinks …

[4 Mar 2010 | Comments Off ]
‘We’re literally going to die for Doritos’

The Durham Revue Comedyfest , 1st March 2010, Gala Theatre

I always thought that everyone loved a little bit of comedy. Certainly everyone in the Gala auditorium at the Durham Revue’s Comedyfest (with a bit of Oxford Revue and Cambridge Footlights on the side) was up for a laugh or two. And by and large the actors remembered to pick them up from…

[4 Mar 2010 | Comments Off ]
Artful deception

Stevie Martin is enthralled by The Shape of Things, First Person Theatre Company, 28th – 30th January 2010

Having never seen Neil LaBute’s The Shape Of Things before, the genuinely shocking denouement was always going to come as a surprise. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was the incredible high quality of First Person Theatre Company’s production; it was sensitive, amusing, startling…

[23 Feb 2010 | 7 Comments ]
‘Guards! Guards!’ is unguardedly unpretentious

Jonny Muir reviews the stage adaptation of Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!, The Assembly Rooms, 18th – 20th February 2010

Well, I have to admit, I’m kind of stuck. What can I possibly say about Ooook! Productions’ Guards! Guards!? I suppose for the sake of journalistic integrity (I have such precious little of it, after all) I should mention that it was poorly acted, sloppily paced and clumsily staged. I should probably…

[19 Feb 2010 | 7 Comments ]
“I cuss, you cuss, we all cuss, for Equus”

Donnchadh O’Conaill is underwhelmed by Equus, THIS Theatre Company, Assembly Rooms, 10th – 13th February 2010
The overall impression I left THIS Theatre’s production of Equus with was that I didn’t have one. I’m genuinely puzzled as to how a production with such excellent technical elements and genuinely thrilling set-pieces could also incorporate downright mediocrity at other points.
When I first saw a production of this play (not the Daniel Radcliffe revival, a student production in a different university), I thought it a superb piece of writing; on this viewing, it seems …

[16 Feb 2010 | 6 Comments ]
How the West Side Was Won

Jonny Muir falls for DULOG’s West Side Story, 26th 30th January 2010, Gala Theatre

For two years in a row, round about January, I have been going to the Gala Theatre to watch a production in which DULOG kick the ever-living crap out of every other DST show that year. Anything Goes and Guys & Dolls remain two of my favourite Durham productions, with standards of performance and professionalism that put most…

[8 Feb 2010 | Comments Off ]
Well Worth the Visit

Lyndsey Fineran enjoys a little black comedy at HCTC’s prodcution of Friedrich Durrenmatt’s ‘The Visit’, 4th – 6th February 2010

“I can be best understood if one grasps grotesqueness”, wrote Durrenmatt of his theatrical style. True to this encapsulation, his 1956 tragicomedy, ‘The Visit,’ depends heavily on its interpretation. At once fairytale, parable, satire and farce, with a basis in realism yet moving into areas of the grotesque and the absurd, ‘The Visit’ is a play which demands a lot from its audience…

[30 Jan 2010 | 6 Comments ]
Déjà Revue?

Donnchadh O’Conaill checks out the Durham Revue’s Christmas Comedy for a Quid Assembly Rooms, 15 December 2009
there was a natural balance to the performances and some impressive chemistry when the right performers were placed in the right sketches
Another year, another new Revue. Christmas Comedy for a Quid was the first chance for the great Durham public to pass judgement on a troupe which, Matt Mulligan apart, consisted entirely of new faces. The verdict ought to be: promising, but can do better. Much of the required improvement will simply be a …

[25 Jan 2010 | 11 Comments ]
Talking Heads

Stevie Martin reviews, and is underwhelmed by, Fergus Leatham’s production of Talking Heads

Both series’ of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads were broadcast in 1988 and 1998 respectively and were comprised of numerous monologues delivered by various characters ranging from the humorous to the downright tragic. To perform such a play…