11 September 2013

On Gl★sgow...

One of the great pleasures about being back in Glasgow is how much stuff is on the go. Oxford can be a curious town. So much of the population pass through in transit, tarrying at most for a year or two, the place itself sometimes feels ... hollow, almost.  Not a place in which folk really live, day to day.

This is an exaggeration, of course, and I have friends who still stay there quite contentedly, but I'd struggle ever to envision returning myself on any more permanent basis.  

One frustrating aspect of my time there was the thinness of the local theatre scene. True, Oxford boasts a pretty, expansive Playhouse, but its repertory company long withered away, and it is only now starting to produce its own drama, instead playing host to touring shows from across the country. The National Theatre of Scotland are taking their revival of David Greig's Dunsinane (2010) down there later this month.

This is all well and good, but the lack of localness, and the absence of an abiding relationship between the theatre company and the wider the community, only underlines Oxford's nagging civic gap. 

In fairness, Oxford students are a rapacious dramatic lot. One of the most (unintentionally) funny things I saw was a gaggle of English public schoolboys, trying their gangled pins and reedy voices on West Side Story. The idea of shimmying knife-gangs, and crooning hard-nuts, was already troubling.  Needless to say, for all of their enthusiasm, the stilted, callow academic types didn't quite realise the Sharks or the Jets.

What's more, a few committed independent companies (including my friends and comrades, Troika) bring some splendid productions to life, including the summer staple of open-air Shakespeare, requiring only brass lungs, a voice that carries, and the good luck to situate your run during a blue-skied week.

Now that I'm back in Glasgow, I'll be doing the odd theatre view for the good folk of Exeunt magazine. Last week, I hied me down to the Citizens Theatre to see their new production of Crime and Punishment, on in Glasgow until the 28th, before transferring to Liverpool, and back up to Edinburgh at the end of October. It is a really interesting, theatrical, thought-provoking production, which I'd commend to you all.

If you need further enticing, you can read my whole review here.


  1. Last time I was at the Citz was to be a gobsmacked audience member in a Taggart episode!

    I remember some fine Jacobean stuff from the 70s - and the Guardian's Michael Billington in a talk at Glasgow Uni saying he would recognise a Citz production anywhere, and an academic silkily responding - 'yes but you wouldn't know what bloody play it was'

    1. Heh. And with the death of Taggart, an opportunity tardy folk of my generation shall never experience more! The Citz was actually the first ever theatre I can remember setting foot in. When I was a nipper, we used to be bussed across from mid-Argyll to see their Christmas shows. I'm also a sucker for a fine, gruesome Jacobean tragedy. Ideally with a lecherous cardinal, if possible.

  2. Ah this is good news. Exeunt Magazine was one of the sharper scalpels at this year's Fringe.

    1. Thanks, tychy. Am looking forward to it.

      Some of that sharpness was probably attributable to my pal, Colin Bramwell.

      Speaking of which, I'd better get this write-up of the National Theatre of Scotland's Dunsinane revival polished off...