The end of

3 Jul

With updates to this blog slowing down in 2010 and coming to a complete halt in 2011, the time has come to admit that I no longer have the time to devote to updating this little corner of the Internet.

Since I started the site back in 2008, the number of Edinburgh entertainment sites has grown, with most of them latching onto the same events and shows and trying to cover them in their own way, to varying degrees of success. Quite whether the paying public is as interested in our reviews as we are is a subject worth debating.

Increasingly I’m looking for original features, interviews and other coverage of plays or films rather than yet another 350 word review, but those are few and far between.

So, I’ll keep writing for the Edinburgh Evening News for the moment, along with film site ReelScotland and my Twitter feed over at @jon_melville, and I’d love to see some of you there.

If you’ve read any of the reviews or previews on this site over the years then thank you, if you’ve enjoyed them then that’s even better. I’ll leave the site online as a kind of archive, and perhaps it will return in some format or other in the future, but for now, is, well, gone.


Edinburgh Secret Society’s Lafayette Seance

18 Apr

Tickets for next Edinburgh Secret Society event – The Lafayette Seance – on sale now!

Event Preview: Slapstick 2011, 27 – 30 January 2011, Bristol

22 Jan

Slapstick 2011

With appearances from Rob Brydon, Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie, Graeme Garden, Ian Lavender and Paul McGann, Slapstick 2011, Bristol’s annual silent comedy festival, is shaping up to be even more of a special event than 2010’s.

Beginning on Thursday 27 January with silent cinema expert Kevin Brownlow’s presentation of once-lost Charlie Chaplin footage, there’s also a chance to see former-Bonzo front man, Neil Innes, with his latest solo show before the weekend really hots up with a comedy gala on the Friday night.

There’s more Chaplin on the Saturday, the same day Dad’s Army star Ian Lavender introduces a tribute to the great Buster Keaton and Rob Brydon interviews Barry Cryer about his top comedy moments.

Continue reading

Theatre Review: Mother Goose, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh

19 Dec

Mother Goose at the Brunton Theatre


Fully embracing the tried and trusted panto formula – the knowing recycling of a classic fairytale with a familiar riff on tried and tested jokes giving them momentum – Brunton Theatre may not be reinventing the wheel in 2010 with its staging of Mother Goose, but when something works this well, why change it?

A distinctly Scottish flavour is added to the Mother Goose story, as Prince Jack (Gerry Kielty) looks to revive his crumbling castle with the proceeds made from selling a golden egg. A spanner is thrown into the works when the evil Vainglorious (Edward Cory) decides he wants to marry the bonniest lass in Musselburgh, Jill (Julie Heatherill), resulting in various mishaps and kidnappings involving Jill and the egg.

Helping (or is that hindering?) Jack are Mother Goose aka Gertie Ga Ga (Craig Glover, back for a second year as Dame) and her jester, Muddles (Aaron Usher), as romance blossoms and evil threatens the land.

One-liners, convoluted plot summaries and ludicrous set pieces are the name of the day here, the whole endeavour hanging together thanks to the sheer enthusiasm of the performers and an audience willing them on.

The central pairing of Glover and Usher is the heart of the show, Usher revelling in the corny jokes and banter with the crowd. Now in his tenth Brunton panto, there can’t be a permutation on the role of “daft laddie” that Usher hasn’t covered, yet he’s still fresh as ever, no doubt egged on by Glover’s gloriously OTT performance and even more OTT costumes.

Throw in songs spanning the last five decades, a few nods to reality TV and Doctor Who (even the recent Doctor Who Proms are referenced, proving nothing is too obscure) and more than a few mentions of Musselburgh itself, and this is a show with something for grannies, grandchildren and most family members in between.

The rather abrupt wrapping up of plot threads and hasty ending aside, this is yet another triumph for the Brunton and a reminder that it’s worth braving the snow and ice when the entertainment is as much fun as Mother Goose.

Mother Goose runs until 31 December, details on the Brunton Theatre website.

Theatre Review: Jack and the Beanstalk, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

13 Dec

Jack and the Beanstalk


As the year draws to a close, and I look back on the last few months of blog posts and realise I’ve spent far too little time at the theatre recently, it’s good to know that a bit of fun has been injected back into Edinburgh with the arrival of panto season.

Last week I went along to Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre to see the new Allan Stewart/Grant Stott production of Jack and the Beanstalk, this time with an added dash of Andy Gray, who returns to the city after three years in Glasgow panto.

Making a stunning entrance as Dame May McTrot, Stewart drops effortlessly back into the role of panto matriarch. It’s one he’s honed to perfection over the years, the actor a safe pair of hands in a production which tries to get bigger and flashier every year but which really just needs a bloke in a dress to work.

Andy Gray is also on fine form as King Crumble, sizing up to Stewart on more than one occasion as the pair try to outdo each other in the fluffed and forgotten lines stakes. It’s hard to know where the ad-libs and improvisation start and end, both of them falling in and out of character as they wait for their next line, but it all adds to the entertainment.

Grant Stott is also on good form as the evil Fleshcreep, doing the work of the evil giant (a semi-successful animatronic prop which dominates the stage for an over loud and overlong period of time), but it’s easy to lost track of quite why the giant is being so evil. There’s some fluff about unpaid taxes requiring the kidnap of Crumble’s daughter, Princes Apricot (Jo Freer), but none of it makes too much sense in all the rush.

Freer makes for a perky princess, most of her scenes taking place opposite romantic lead Andrew Scott-Ramsay, who does well with the pretty thankless role of Jack McTrot. Scott-Ramsay replaces Johnny Mac this year in the role of Stewart’s son, with the 2010 version a more serious portrayal. The part of the bumbling oaf is instead given to Gray, leaving Scott-Ramsay with the occasional one-liner.

References to reality TV and shiny floor shows abound, and if you don’t know your Wagner from your Gillian McKeith you’ll be slightly left in the cold. The appearance of Gray as one half of Stavros Flatley (Britain’s Got Talent) does redeem this situation somewhat, a sketch which proved to be one of the highlights of the evening.

Throw in a few song and dance routines and a bit of business with audience members, plus obligatory references to the Edinburgh trams, and this is a tremendous evening’s entertainment which won’t disappoint.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs until Sunday 23 January 2011. Visit the King’s Theatre website for more information.

Event Preview: Doctor Who Live, 16 & 17 October 2010, SECC, Glasgow

15 Oct

Just a short reminder for the Doctor Who fans in the audience that Doctor Who Live materialised in Glasgow today and remains at the SECC until Sunday.

Nigel Planer stars as intergalactic showman, Vorgenson, who travels the galaxy with his minimiser containing many of the Doctor’s foes. Matt Smith stars on the big screen as things begin to go awry for his biggest fan.

A few trailers and the odd unofficial video have arrived on YouTube, so take a look at what you could be seeing if you head to the event this weekend:

And one video which isn’t quite officially approved:

Nor this one:

Tickets can be bought over on the Doctor Who Live website.


Theatre Review: Sunshine on Leith, 12 October 2010, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

13 Oct

Sunshine on Leith


In the midst of TV schedules filled with broadcasters’ attempts at spoon-feeding viewers with Z-list celebrity reality shows, while supermarket shelves buckle under the weight of countless Jennifer Aniston DVDs, it’s easy to dismiss populist entertainment as a Very Bad Thing, a wasteland where “entertainers” are only as good as their current marketing mix.

One place where populist isn’t a four letter word is in musical theatre, the demand for larger-than-life spectacle as strong as ever. This was evidenced last night by the large crowd who turned up at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre to see the latest Dundee Rep production of Sunshine on Leith, the musical based on the songs of The Proclaimers, as it rolled into town.

Within seconds of the curtain going up we’re introduced to Davy (Billy Boyd) and Ally (Michael Moreland), two soldiers fresh out of the army and back on the streets of Edinburgh (sorry, Leith) as they look to rebuild their lives.

Safe in the bosom of their families, the lads are soon fully paid up members of the rat race, women, jobs and football replacing the harsh realities of the desert. As the pair try to follow the path their parents took, looking to settle down and raise families, it becomes clear that even thirty years of marriage isn’t without its traumas.

Writer Stephen Greenhorn may pepper his heavily-colloquialised dialogue with such hits as I’m On My Way (as Davy and Ally make their way down an alternate universe Leith Walk, one inhabited by dancing grannies and drunks hanging out of wheelie bins (actually, that last bit might well be fact)) and Life With You (as various men explain how they want to spend their lives with their women), but this highly literal odyssey manages to avoid tying itself up in knots just to get to the next well-staged dance routine. Continue reading