Brett Herriot Review

How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Musical, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Review

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

*** 3 Stars

“charming family fun”

Its not quite time to open the first window on the advent calender but the festival theatre is getting in the christmas spirit early with this charming family fun production of Dr Seuss’s classic tale of how the Grinch stole Christmas the musical!

The Grinch has been around since 1956, firstly as Dr Seuss’s charming illustrated poem, then a film with Boris Karloff before a more modern take by Jim Carrey and the popular animated film with the voice of Benedict cumberbatch.

This musical adaptation came to life over 21 years ago in 1998 and its toured in the Fall of each year across the united states and now it recieves its British premier in a tour of the country.

Telling the story of the Grinch who hates christmas and wants to make the people of whoville suffer by stealing all there christmas presents and feast and dump them into the abyss of the valley of crumpit mountain. Its when the citizens celebrate christmas regardless that the Grinch’s heart grows and he find the true meaning of christmas. Its a child friendly take on a christmas carol and while charming there could have been so much more in this production.

Timothy Mason’s Book and Lyrics and Mel Marvin’s Music borrows heavily from the original text of the book and works well with some fluffy light tunes through out but it does lack a stand out number to send the audience home humming. That said the Classic “You’re a mean one, Mr Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas” from the 1966 animation do feature and offer the best of the score.

Performance wise its a mixed bag, the production is advertised as starring Gregor Fisher but its a bit of a misleading casting, Gregor appears as himself at the top of the show for a 5 minute scene where he reads the Grinch story to a group of children invited on stage from the audience, he is then never seen again, not even in the curtain call. Its clearly a case of getting a name on the poster to get the audience in.

Edward Baker-Duly plays the The Grinch perfectly and is clearly inspired by Jim Carrey’s take on the role, his ability to use his face like elastic to convery the character is excellent. Steve Fortune plays “Old Max” with an aged charm and maturity thats highly fitting and truthful. X Factor Star Matt Terry plays “Young Max” and while there is much youthful fun coming from the role, there are moments where it feels a little dialed in and tired which is a shame. Performance wise the star of the show must go to young Isla Gie in the role of Cindy Lou Who for a girl so young to have such a big voice, stage presence and performance ability is stunning and she is joy to watch on stage.

John Lee Beatty’s set is very in keeping with the Dr Seuss’s orginal artwork and again brings a schmaltzy warmth with it and its boosted by Ben Cracknell’s lighting design even if a couple of cues were late. Also we saw far to much of the stage technicians when clearly we arent meant too somthing perhaps Director Matt August can smooth out as the tour continues.

How the Grinch stole christmas is a warm hearted pre christmas treat that could have been so much more than it was but as the snow falls gently across the auditorium you cant help but be moved by its charms. So pop along to festival theatre with the kids in tow before the Grinch disappears for another year.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 30th November, For Tickets go to:



Christmas 2019 Preview:

Christmas 2019 Preview:

Hard to believe the curtain call for 2019 is in sight, with Christmas light switch on’s happening across the country, Christmas shopping stepping in high gear and party season knocking on the door. For audiences of the arts attention turns to the many theatrical treats that are on offer in our theatres and venues. While the traditional Pantomime is the biggest choice there are some musical jewels too. So lets look around the country at the biggest and best on offer.

Qdos presents Goldilocks and Three Bears, King’s Theatre Edinburgh.


12 years after its last appearance on the King’s stage, Goldilocks and the Three Bears returns as the pantomime of choice for what ranks as Scotland’s number 1 pantomime. Allan Stewart returns as Dame, Grant Stott is still the baddie and in what will be a truly emotional Moment, the legendary pantomime performer Andy Gray for fills his promise that after missing last years beauty and the beast as he battled cancer he returns as the Ringmaster. Another big wow factor is Jordan Young the star of Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s Pantomimes makes his Kings theatre debut as joey the clown. This is a show that will mix circus, panto, costumes, music, comedy, stunts and magic for a special production!

Qdos present Goldilocks and The Three Bears, Sat 30th Nov – Sun 19th Jan 2020 for tickets go to:

The Lyceum Theatre presents An Edinburgh Christmas Carol The Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh.

edinburgh christmas carol

The Lyceum is beloved and respected for its Christmas tales, a unique hybrid of theatre making fusing together both play, children focused theatre and a heavy dose of Christmas magic. Edinburgh folklore tells us that when Charles Dickens was visiting the city on a reading tour, a stroll through a kirkyard brought him to the tombstone of one Ebenezer Scroggie, inspiration struck, and A Christmas Carol was born. Writer and director Tony Cownie (The Venetian Twins, The Belle’s Stratagem) brings this famous festive story back to the city of its birth with a guest appearance from Edinburgh’s best Loved Victorian – Greyfriars Bobby!

The Lyceum Theatre presents An Edinburgh Christmas Carol, Thur 28th Nov – Sat 4th Jan 2020 for tickets go to

Disney’s The Lion King, Edinburgh Playhouse.

the Lion King

The Edinburgh playhouse, Scotland’s home of the west end mega shows and this Year welcomes the smash hit Disney spectacular for a second run at the greenside venue and this time its staying for a 4-month mega run. Set against the majesty of the Serengeti Plains and to the evocative rhythms of Africa, Disney’s multi award-winning musical is a unique theatrical experience that you will remember forever. The lion king is true magical treat for all the family and show both Disney and the art of theatre making at its very best. This will be the shows only performances in Scotland on the current tour so it well worth heading to Edinburgh for an unforgettable night out.

Disney’s The Lion King, The Edinburgh Playhouse, Thu 5th Dec – Sun 29th March 2020 for tickets go to:

Scottish Ballet Presents the Snow Queen, Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

the snow queen

Christmas tradition at the Festival Theatre is all about Scottish Ballet, and there 50th anniversary year comes to a spectacular close with the world premiere of The Snow Queen. This glittering new production is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale.

It will be set to the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, performed live by the full Scottish Ballet Orchestra. From the bustle of a winter’s market to the shivers of a fairy-tale forest, take a journey to the Snow Queen’s palace, where you’ll find her surrounded by the icy fragments of an enchanted mirror. Along the way you’ll meet a colourful cast of characters, from young lovers parted by a spell to a circus ringmaster with a few tricks up his sleeve. Choreographed by Christopher Hampson and designed by the award-winning Lez Brotherston, this story of love and friendship is sure to delight the whole family.

Scottish Ballet Presents The Snow Queen, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Sat 7th Dec – Sun 29th Dec 2019 for tickets go to:

The Brunton Theatre Presents, Cinderella, Brunton Theatre Musselburgh.

Cinerella musslburgh

The 2018 creative team return to the Brunton for this years family focused pantomime, Cinderella but not as you remember it, Cinderella is off to the circus, promising laughter, fun, music, and a few surprises with a stellar cast, one thing is for sure the Brunton will do its best to charm the audience of the Sea Side town with there take on a pantomime classic.

The Brunton Theatre Presents, Cinderella Brunton Theatre Musselburgh. Tues 26th Nov – Sat 4th January 2020 for ticket go to:

Falkirk Community Trust and Imagine Theatre presents Aladdin FTH Theatre, Falkirk

aladdin falkirk

Imagine Pantomimes returns to Falkirk for a second year with the famous tale of old Peeking. With a law decreeing that the princess can only marry a prince, and the evil Abanazar up to no good, it looks as though Aladdin’s dreams may never come true. And he’s not the only one! Aladdin’s mum Widow Twankey, has got the mixed-up Chinese laundry blues which are not helped by the fact they’re also very poor…If only Aladdin could make his fortune and then all their dreams could come true. FTH Theatre once again promise a show packed full of spectacular scenery, breath-taking costumes, stunning special effects, fabulous song and dance routines and hilarious slap stick comedy.

Falkirk Community Trust and Imagine Theatre presents Aladdin, FTH Theatre, Falkirk Fri 6th Dec – Mon 24th Dec 2019 for more info go to:

Qdos Presents Jack and the Beanstalk, Kings Theatre Glasgow.

jack and the beanstalk Glasgow

Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum… I smell a brand-new pantomime! For the first time in over 30 years, a mighty beanstalk will burst out of Bath Street as Jack and the Beanstalk returns to the King’s. Fresh from their trip to Old Peking, Elaine C Smith and Johnny Mac return, swapping their magic carpet for Dame Trot’s farm to follow Jack and his family and climb a beanstalk of gigantic proportions to Cloudland in another unmissable family show. Doomed to sell his trusty coo, join Jack as he fights to save the beautiful Princess, outwit the evil giant and win riches beyond his wildest dreams along with the hand of the girl he loves. Expect laughs, music, special effects, magic beans and bundles of audience participation in this GIANT of a pantomime!

Qdos Presents Jack and the Beanstalk, Kings Theatre Glasgow Sat 30th Nov – Sun 5th Jan 2020 for tickets go to:

The Pavilion Theatre Presents the Magical Adventures of Pinocchio, The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow.


Following the overwhelming success and return to form of last year’s production Cinderella, The Pavilion have decided to take the team on another Panto adventure its been a several years since it was last seen on stage at the Pavilion and it could well be the only theatre in the country to produce “The Magical Adventures of Pinocchio”. Based on the original story but with a Glasgow twist in true Hilarious Pavilion style and you can be confident that it is Good Clean Family Entertainment.

Starring Liam Dolan as the Hilarious Jiminy Cricket, River City’s Stephen Purdon as Pinocchio, Grado as Geppetto,  and more of the Cinderella cast to be announced very soon and a few additional surprises.  With a brand-new Script, Stunning Scenery, Sensational  Costumes and Magical Special Effects that we have become known for, it is sure to be; The Best Panto in Town!

The Pavilion Theatre Presents the Magical Adventures of Pinocchio, The Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow. Thurs 28th Nov – Sun 12th Jan 2020 for tickets go to

Qdos Presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs SEC Armadillo Glasgow.

Snow white glasgow

The SEC Armadillo will be serving up plenty of cheesy pasta this Christmas as the venue have announced Gary: Tank Commander will be back and leading the cast of this year’s spectacular pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to victory. Joining him will be Two Doors Down comedian and actress Doon Mackichan, with Leah MacRae and Frances Thorburn.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be lavishly brought to life in a production packed full of magical mirrors, seven friendly dwarfs, an abundance of comedy, sensational song and dance and jaw-dropping 3D special effects, for which the annual SEC pantomime is so well known and loved.

Qdos Presents Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs SEC Armadillo Glasgow. Sat 14th Dec – Tue 31th Dec for tickets go to:

We Will Rock You the Musical, Theatre Royal Glasgow


The worldwide smash hit musical by Queen and Ben Elton returns to Glasgow. The multi-million-pound show dazzles all the senses in breath-taking style. Guaranteed to blow your mind, this musical phenomenon is not to be missed! Since 2002 over 16 million theatre goers in 19 countries have thrilled to this awe-inspiring production. With 24 of Queen’s biggest hits delivered in a show that boasts the scale and spectacle that marked the bands’ legendary live performances. 24 of Queen’s greatest hits, including Radio Ga Ga, Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody and, of course, We Will Rock You!

We Will Rock You! The Musical, Theatre Royal Glasgow, Mon 9th Dec – Sat 28th Dec for tickets go to:

Qdos Presents, Cinderella, His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen

Cinderella aberdeen

Television and stage star Louie Spence will lead the cast of this year’s spectacular family pantomime Cinderella at His Majesty’s Theatre, alongside HMT favourite Alan McHugh, Call the Midwife star Laura Main, River City funny man Paul-James Corrigan, Two Doors Down’s Joy McAvoy, River City star Sally Howitt and Emmerdale’s Paul Luebke.

HMT audiences shall go to the ball as Cinderella transforms from rags to riches, outwits her Wicked Stepsisters and with the help of her hilarious friend Buttons and her Fairy Godmother, wins the heart of the dashing Prince Charming. Cinderella will feature all of the ingredients of the perfect pantomime; a fabulous cast and orchestra, laugh-out-loud comedy, stunning scenery and special effects, beautiful costumes and plenty of boos and hisses for all the family to enjoy. Cinderella will once again be produced by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer and the team behind the annual must-see HMT pantomime.

The clock is ticking! Don’t miss your chance to see Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes.

Qdos Presents, Cinderella, His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen Sat 30th Nov – Sun 5th Jan 2020 for tickets go to:

Eden Court Theatre and Imagine Theatre presents, Beauty and The Beast, Empire Theatre, Inverness.

Основные RGB

Finally, the most northerly major production and indeed the biggest panto in the Highlands. Eden Court are planning another spectacular show this year with This year’s ‘beauty’ of a pantomime at Eden Court is Beauty and the Beast. A conceited Prince gets cursed and spends 500 years trapped in a castle as a Beast. The arrival of a beautiful, intelligent and feisty young woman offers the possibility of the curse being lifted, but she can learn to see beyond appearances and learn to love a Beast?

Eden Court Theatre and Imagine Theatre presents, Beauty and The Beast, Empire Theatre Eden Court, Inverness. Fri 6h Dec – Sun 5th Jan 2020 for tickets go to:

So, there we have it our pick of the best of Scotland’s Pantomimes and Christmas offerings, but don’t forget to check out your local pantomime or show there are performances taking place the length and breadth of the country there really is something for everyone to choose from. We here at Scotsgay arts will be reviewing a selection of shows so keep checking back in the run up to Christmas and beyond into the new year.

Brett Herriot Review

Edinburgh Gang Show 2019, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:

Edinburgh Gang Show 2019, 

**** 4 Stars

A fitting celebration of 60 years!”

For their 60th Annual Production the Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies once again take to the stage of the Glorious King’s theatre to deliver an evening of variety and spectacle and rather than marking the 60th Anniversary outright, (it wasn’t mentioned once during the performance) the gang are out to do what the do best and entertain and give the very best of themselves.

The Gang Show remains unique in the world of theatre making with no comparable’s to draw against and the Edinburgh is simply the biggest Gang Show still produced in the UK. It continues its modern formula of embracing modern tastes in its music, comedy and production whilst always tilting its hat in respect to those who have gone before, in fact Ralph Reader’s own material appears in 4 items in the 2019 production.

Leading the Gang in his 17th production is director Andy Johnston who also writes much of the material. Its his time as director that allows him to judge the show well and continues to deliver something very much for everyone. Although some of the comedy this year wasn’t hitting its stride on opening night, however it feels very much like pacing and delivery and should gather momentum as the run goes on.

Highlights of the 2019 show include. A highly moving and perfectly arrange mash up of “Falling Slowly” from Once the musical mixed with “Seasons of Love” from Rent. This is touching and emotional moment truly makes the audience think and gives the gang a chance to reflect on friendship and life away from the bright lights of the kings. The section “Mr Fahrenheit” lets the gang kick into high gear with a jazz infused tribute to Freddie Mercury and the music of queen. As in previous years Act 1 remains a tad to long coming in at 75 minutes on its own but as the show settles into its run it should tighten a little to compensate.

Act 2 has the true jewels in the crown for the gang this year especially “Wanna Dance” where Tatiana Honeywell builds on the success of last year’s performance with a simply outstanding rendition of Whitney Houston’s classic Honeywell has the west end and beyond with her grasp if she chooses to pursue a career are talent sparkles under the bright lights. “Born to Boogie” also fizzes with a huge tap number and nods to “Billy Elliot” this section truly shows the gang on form. Bringing the show to a close in traditionally staged manner with the full company on stage in uniform sees “Lady Gaga” mixed with “Ralph Reader” and it works wonderfully well. The closing of the show really sums up the joy of this modern gang show and makes for a fitting celebration of 60 years as the direction is set on the future.

The sound on opening night was nothing short of woeful, with far to many bang’s, pops, and at times the main gang working vocally together simply couldn’t be heard above the orchestra which given the show was viewed from the front stalls is poor, the gang deserve so much better, hopefully the technicians will get things sorted and deliver improvements for the rest of the run.

Other production elements continue to push the boundaries of the king’s capabilities, James Gow’s and Andy Johnston’s lighting design is simple excellent and delivers intimacy and full on stadium concert lighting when called for. Coupled with Alan Hunter and the wardrobe teams ever innovative costume design it’s a winning formula.

Joining Johnston in the production team is dance director Louise Williamson whose choreography this year becomes a true highlight of the production the trickier routines are performed by the core de dance with consummate skill, but she also ensures the entire cast are featured in the dance form throughout.

Musical Director Andy Thomson continues to stamp his style on the show and this year he and his orchestra have brought a filled out and rich sound to the music that fully supports the cast on stage thanks to the wonderful musical arrangements and orchestrations used.

The 2019 Gang Show does everything it says it should, the wealth of talent both on and off stage ensure that the Gang will still be treading the boards for the next 60 years ahead. Memories are a beautiful thing, and long may the gang continue to sail on the crest of wave and shape the lives of generations for years to come as well as making the most magical memories for gang and audience alike.

EGSPL productions present, Edinburgh Gang Show 2019, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Run Until Saturday 23rd November for tickets go to:

Brett Herriot Review

9 To 5 The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

9 To 5 The Musical, 

***** 5 Stars

“A Comedy Musical Joie De Vivre!

Can you believe the motion Picture of “9 to 5” was released in cinemas in 1980 yes! Almost 40 years ago, the story of three women leading the charge for female empowerment in the business world of the high rises of New York gave Dolly Parton perhaps her most recognisable hit.

The film was adapted to a musical and premiered in 2008 and gained some success however it didn’t arrive in the west end of London until just this year, and its that production which is still currently playing at the Savoy Theatre which is now on tour throughout the UK and what a treat it is.

Telling the story of Violet Newstead ( a wonderful turn from Laura Tyrer stepping in for the indisposed Louise Redknapp) a strong willed woman with aspirations of being CEO, Judy Bernly (Amber Davies in powerhouse turn) an office newbie who facing up to life without her husband must get on the work ladder and Doralee Rhodes (Georgina Castle who channels Dolly Parton wonderfully well) who every one thinks is a tart with a heart but in fact this tart has the brains to match.

The three women are stuck in a male dominated world, and repressed with a boss, Franklin Hart Jnr (a snide and excellently judge performance from Sean Needham) who is nothing more that a sexist pig. Having put rat poison in the boss’s coffee which he survives its sets off a chain of comedy events that see’s the woman finally find there feet in the business world and each other and change there world for the better.

This 2019 production is without a shadow of doubt the best ever of the show, with Director Jeff Calhoun taking the show in new direction, this is musical theatre for adults, with sexual innuendo, bare buttocks and S and M references aplenty and it’s a comedy musical joie de vivre.

Dolly Parton’s Music and Lyrics and Patricia Resnick’s book is better served by this retooling one which works so well as rather than trying to please family audience’s it harnesses the power of the original film and explores the empowerment of women in business so well.

Lisa Stevens Choreography is sharp with nods to Bob Fosse scattered throughout added to Simone Manfredini’s 8-piece band all the ingredients are mixed together for a superb night of musical fun. Special mention must also go to Tom Rogers inventive set design which really transport the show to New York and an office setting brilliantly and even allows Dolly herself to act as Narrator ( sorry folks she is on pre tape not live in the theatre) which adds extra charm. With excellent lighting design from Howard Hudson and Poti Martin’s Sound design you have all the trappings of a west end calibre show on stage at the playhouse.

9 to 5 remains an enduring hit as both a film and musical because of its heart and putting women at the centre of the story something which even now 40 years letter remains as relevant as ever. So tumble out of bed and pour yourself a cup of ambition and head to the playhouse for a real treat!

Dolly Parton Presents, 9 To 5 The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 16th November, UK tour continues for tickets go to:

Arts News!

Dance Horizon’s 5th Birthday and Launch Evening

Dance Horizon’s 5th Birthday and Launch Evening

The Cannon Gait, Edinburgh

Edinburgh based creative producer for dance, Dance Horizons have marked there 5th birthday with a special evening celebration held on Friday 8th November in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. We at scotsgay arts were honoured to have been invited along to enjoy the evening.

Dance Horizons first emerged in 2013 when a small group of entrepreneurial dance graduates presented “Dance Horizons Industry Night”, this was an evening of dance development held in the North west of England in partnership with Dance UK which is now know as One Dance UK.

Horizons Dance 1

The launch of the companies “Innovations, Contemporary dance platform” came in November 2014 and has gone on to the be the flagship event for the company and is now an annual feature of there work with editions being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and further afield around the UK.

As well as developing their own work in the dance art form they work as producer and co producer to bring some of the greatest emerging dance talent to the stage. 2019 has been a very busy year for the team at Horizon’s with Genesis– a double bill by Kennedy Muntanga Dance Theatre, London, Innovations Platform- presenting works by 8 artists/companies from the UK, Brittany & Spain. And Mastication- performance artwork by independent dance artist Paul Scott Bullen based in Northwest England all being part of Sold out Edinburgh Fringe run.

Horizons Dance 2

2020 is promising to be equally busy with Innovations Spring 2020 coming on Friday 1st May 2020 to
The Studio at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh, this is an evening of four contemporary dance works including a matinee showing aimed at dance students in training. This will be followed by Innovations EdFringe Edition Building on this year’s successful run, Innovations have confirmed it will return for the third consecutive year to Greenside Venues and will be expanded to a two-week run. Also, as part of the overall Fringe 2020 programme Kennedy Muntanga Dance Theatre Will return to Edinburgh with a double bill performance as part of the Edinburgh Fringe 2020. Horizons will also welcome Sketch Dance Theatre London as part of EdFringe 2020 at the Greenside Venues. Sketch is an emerging company of graduate artists from Roehampton University currently touring across the South of the UK. 2020 will then be rounded out by Innovations Winter Edition 2020 which will return to The Studio of the Festival Theatre in November for another exciting platform of contemporary works.

Its Certainly been a busy year for the company with an even bigger year planned! And the evening celebrations were completed with the announcement of the Innovations awards, the Innovations 2019 Award went to Unearthed Dance Company for there production of ‘You, Me & Them’ presented at Innovations Spring 2019 @ The Studio. The Innovations 2019 EdFringe Award went to Fuelled Dance Theatre for their production of “y.O.u” at Innovations EdFringe 2019 Greenside Venues . The big award of the night the Innovations Development Award 2019 was awarded to Peter Twyman Dance For the development of “Emotions” through Innovations Platforms across 2019.

Horizons Dance 3

We at Scotsgayarts also managed to sit down with Horizons Creative Director and Producer Oliver Anwyl as we asked him, what does next year ahead for the company mean to you? Oliver: “Next year is going to be such an exciting and action-packed year. Seeing these plans coming to fruition is rather overwhelming as we continue to expand. Being able to announce a year’s line up is something we hadn’t thought possible this time last year. It has not been an easy journey getting Dance Horizons to where it is now, and there are still obstacles to overcome. When I founded it, I was told by a lot of people it was a dead end, but five years later, here we are! I am so grateful to be supported by a group of incredible people who are as passionate about dance and its possibilities as I am.”

Horizons Dance 4

Thanks to all at Dance Horizons for a wonderful evening and this is definitely a company to keep an eye on through out 2020 and the years ahead! Here’s to what the future brings!

Dance Horizons will present work in 2020 in The Studio at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh and During the Edinburgh Fringe at the Greenside Venues, please check respective Websites for ticket details. To follow the work of the company go to

Mary Woodward Review

Still No Idea, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Review

Still No Idea by Lisa Hammond, Lee Simpson and Rachael Spence

***** (5 stars)

I can’t get that refrain out of my head – cheeky face, cheeky face – as I come out of the Traverse and head for home after an evening which challenged, moved, frustrated and angered me as Lisa Hammond and Rachael Spence invited us to join them on an expedition to find the material for a new show, the results of which they presented to us in a mixture of styles and formats that had us both laughing and crying – crying not with laughter but with frustration that, despite anything anyone may think or say about how “it’s so much easier/ so much better/ things are more equal” for people with disabilities, the demoralising fact is that things are much, much worse than they were ten years ago…

The loudest laughs came from the audience members with mobility issues – laughing as they recognise the situations in which they so often find themselves, and the constant struggle to be seen as a person, not as a disability: to be taken seriously, given real parts to play in the world, not sidelined, patronised or spoken to in a special voice Wow! didn’t she do well…

So many of the suggestions made by members of the public when asked to suggest characters or plot lines arose from embarrassment and/or an inability to see Rachael and Lisa as two people of equal worth and importance, who might equally play a central character rather than an also-ran.  Cheeky face exquisitely highlighted the way people’s discomfort is expressed in a cheery bonhomie – you don’t know what to say to someone in a wheelchair and so try to wrap it in what is thought to be humour – here comes trouble! or my you’ve got a cheeky face: I bet you’re a barrel of laughs: i.e. don’t try to engage with a real live adult human being, treat them as you might an engaging puppy or a bouncy toddler.

And this in an age which prides itself on an equal society which doesn’t hide disabled people away… But what good is celebrating the successes of paralympians if it makes people think that every disabled person ‘ought’ to be able to do what they can?  What sort of society do we live in when people who are seen walking as they transfer themselves from one wheelchair to another are insulted and called scroungers and benefit cheats? What sort of government proposes policies based on kicking away their crutches will make them stronger??

Under all the humour there’s an anger and a despair that our current society is so hostile to people with disabilities that they are led to commit suicide rather than continue the struggle against unjustly reduced or discontinued benefits, and sometimes die of their medical condition before their appeal has been heard or dealt with.

What can be done?  Laugh rather than cry; try to see people as human beings rather than ‘conditions’; imagine the hero or heroine of your favourite novel, play, tv series or film as someone with a disability – see them as central to the action rather than as a bit player or moving wallpaper – in short, try to create the picture of a world in which there is equality of opportunity for everyone.

Still No Idea has toured extensively in England: the Traverse gig is the sole Scottish appearance. Don’t miss it – and be prepared to have a good laugh while having all your comfortable notions turned upside down.

Still No Idea by Lisa Hammond, Lee Simpson and Rachael Spence, Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, run ends 9th November for tickets go to:


Brett Herriot Review

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Review

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical, 

**** 4 Stars

“We Belong!”

It’s hard to believe that 25 years have passed since the original motion picture of the Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert first entered the cinemas, its story of two drag queens and a transsexual criss crossing the Australian outback in a 1960’s tour bus was ultimately a story of acceptance, love and discovering that ultimately we all belong in this world.

12 years after the film the stage production debuted in Australia, with a juke box collection of classic hits and warm heart at its core, the musical took the world by storm with both extended west end and Broadway runs.

After several previous UK tours the show is back in a brand-new reimaging and with previous star of the show Jason Donovan now producing its time for a fresh take on a modern classic. The Story remains fully intact, with Tick ( a wonderfully charming Joe McFadden) and his drag alter ego Mitizi discovering its time to get to know his son who lives with his mother in a casino in Alice Springs, he rounds up his Friends, a big hearted transsexual Bernadette (an emotionally truthful turn from Miles Western) and young know it all Adam with his drag persona Felicia ( a strong physical performance from Nick Hayes) packing there lives into the bus known as Priscilla they set out on a voyage of discovery.

Director Ian Talbot and Choreographer Tom Jackson Greaves have really brought the heart out in this production and rely on that to carry the show and it works to great effect, in amongst the pop and disco classics such as Boogie Wonderland, Pop Muzik and I will survive which have stunning and crisp dance moves through out. There are also moments which genuinely touch the heart.

When the queens come face to face with the most horrible homophobia and discover they must never forget the cost of the choices they make, it’s a rendition of “True Colours” that speaks volumes, a beautifully judged performance from Miles Western truly captures the hurt, paint and ultimately hope for something better.

Charles Cusick-Smith and Phil R Daniels Set and Costume Design does overall bring new life to the show, with many of the iconic costumes being refreshed or completely altered to great effect, even the set works for the majority of the time. However, the reveal of Priscilla herself is hugely underwhelming to the point of disappointment. The divas don’t fly, and the spectacular moments of previous productions have been lost. It does mean the show can visit smaller venues on the tour but thanks to excellent performances it doesn’t cheapen the production overall.

Ben Cracknell’s Lighting design is excellent and sparkles in Technicolor glory to the intimate lighting of Ayr’s rock at dusk combined with Ben Harrison’s rich sound design that brings the 7-piece pit band to life with aplomb the production elements succeed in fully supporting the overall production.

Priscilla’s greatest message is that we regardless of colour, class, sexuality or creed do belong in this world and deserve to be accepted for the individuals we are. It’s a message that’s more potent than ever in the current climate we live in. So why not pop along to the Playhouse and join the queens on the most epic of adventures!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 9th November, UK tour continues for tickets go to: