P H O T O :


PLAY BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 9 Nov, and touring

Having already sold out at the National Theatre in London, the debut of Barber Shop Chronicles in Scotland is freighted with expectations. Written by Inua Ellams, who Lyceum artistic director David Greig has called ‘one of today’s most exciting voices in poetry and theatre', it presents the barber shop as a place which African men have historically used as a ‘newsroom, political platform, local hotspot, confession box, preacher-pulpit and football stadium’. Performer Emmanuel Ighodaro says reactions to the show have been extremely upbeat: 'I’ve had audience members approach me and tell me how much the play evoked good and bad memories for them.’ While it expresses the voices of 12 men of colour, Ighodaro adds that ‘the subjects addressed are universal, from father and son relationships to the politics of identity and belonging.’

While Ellams script has a poetic eloquence, and its location is distinctive, Ighodaro recognises that the dramaturgy has played a huge part in its success. ‘The show is punctuated with song and dance and whirlwind scene changes that I can assure you have never been seen or done before in this way!’

Having made his reputation as both a poet and playwright,

Ellams' work consistently reveals the influence of hip hop and romantic poetry. While his early shows saw him as the performer and writer, he has latterly concentrated on ensemble work, portraying multiple perspectives often not presented on stage. ‘Inua's writing possesses the right balance of comedy and

seriousness,’ says Ighodaro. ‘The audience are never allowed to completely relax and are constantly surprised which is why, in my humble opinion, it works so well. We can’t wait to bring the show up north and I hope that the people of this beautiful city will join us in what will be a fun, joyous, and at times riotous event.’ (Gareth K Vile)


PANTO DIXIE WHITTINGTON: THE HAMECOMING Òran Mór, Glasgow, Mon 25 Nov–Sat 28 Dec ROCK MUSICAL WE WILL ROCK YOU Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Mon 9–Mon 23 Dec; reviewed at Edinburgh Playhouse ●●●●●

A Play, A Pie and A Pint's festive pantos for grown- ups have become something of an institution, and this year's will most likely be no exception with its mash-up of wry humour and pantomime hilarity. Starring the mighty cast of Dave Anderson (no stranger to an ample bosom and an acid quip), John Kielty, the irrepressible Clare Waugh and Amy Scott, our troubled isle will no doubt be given a swift kicking in Dixie Whittington: The Hamecoming. At the helm this time is Morag Fullarton on writing and directing duties. She has created pantomimes before at Òran Mór, as well as successful, irreverent productions like Casablanca: The Gin Joint and Mack The Knife, which was recently revived as part of the venue’s celebration of 500 in-house plays.

It's likely that the story of fortune seeker Dick Whittington will be sidelined by a massive dose of political zingers (although the cat is included) so subtle and refined humour won't be a concern. But for those who enjoy bawdy, sweary laughs at the expense of the elite, Scottish tropes and the Krankies, this antidote to solemn political theatre will be a welcome addition. Get ready to 'wind doon the blind'. (Lorna Irvine)

122 THE LIST 1 Nov 2019–31 Jan 2020

It’s unfortunate that Ben Elton, now touring again as a stand-up, decided that a lazy story, weak characterisation, gender stereotypes and a few predictable gags were more than enough to frame the music of Queen: We Will Rock You has a terrible script, even for a jukebox musical. The show relies purely on the quality of the

dance routines, the spectacular scenography and the music of Queen, which mostly survives the transition to musical theatre. Many of the numbers are given rockier readings a two-guitar metal assault overwhelms the vocalists, but gives the show both drive and excitement. Any attempt to think about the message, or

characterisation, however, is a depressing journey into old-fashioned humour and attitudes, and the inherent contradictions in the plot. The pace flags in the second act, although ‘One Vision’ takes its rightful place as a fascist anthem and the final ‘We Will Rock You’ does sound like a musical’s version of revolution.

The production is best enjoyed as a spectacle with dynamic choreography, and the occasional moment that captures the theatricality and bombast of a rock legend. (Gareth K Vile)

HORROR ADAPTATION THE EXORCIST King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Mon 4–Sat 9 Nov, and touring; reviewed at Theatre Royal, Glasgow ●●●●●

John Pielmeier's stage version of William Peter Blatty's classic horror throws everything at the production to ensure jumps from the audience.

From the lighting crashes and drones throughout by Adam Cork, to the beautiful gothic set design by Anna Fleischle and scurrying rat projections by Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington, its tech savvy relies on freaking out those of a nervous disposition. If only the play itself could be as effective. From the syrupy set-up, where young Regan (Susannah Edgley) and her mother (a one-note Sophie Ward) hunker down in their new home, to Regan's demonic possession (with impishly evil voiceover from Ian McKellen as the Devil), the trajectory is heavy on exposition, with a join-the-dots narrative riddled with clichés.

A cast of actors with wandering accents fail to convince or create any real tension. Only Tristram Wymark as the Ken Russell-like Burke Dennis is worth caring about, with lots of dark and dissolute charisma. The result is essentially an extended Metallica video. The devil may have the best tunes, but as a piece of theatre, it's sorely lacking, and there are not enough Hail Marys to redeem it. (Lorna Irvine)