CONTEMPORARY DRAMA I THINK WE ARE ALONE King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 18–Sat 22 Feb

Co-directed by TV star Kathy Burke and Frantic Assembly’s Scott Graham, I Think We Are Alone is a new play that dives into the challenges and opportunities of social media. Two estranged sisters (Charlotte Bate and Polly Frame) find that text messaging is only driving them further apart while a mother (Chizzy Akudolu) battles grief and maternal anxiety, and Graham (Andrew Turner) visits darker places only to find, in kindness, a possible solution to loneliness. ‘For me this was more about our desire for intimacy

and connection and how we are offered greater opportunity to connect,’ says Scott Graham. ‘I wondered how much social media was delivering, given that we tend to curate an image of ourselves. I wondered if that image might hinder connection. We give people an impression of our lives and that might get in the way.’

Despite having been at the forefront of British theatre for 25 years, Graham’s Frantic Assembly retains a dynamic edge that encompasses both formal experimentation and contemporary worries. By working with Burke and playwright Sally Abbott, the company consciously incorporates new voices and continues their collaborative aesthetic of adventure and imagination, while maintaining a core intention. ‘Good theatre inspires an active audience,’ Graham concludes. ‘Their minds are rushing, creating connections and seeing beyond the veneer of a situation. Theatre is a social event and it can explore society’s concerns but I think it must always be aware of becoming didactic. I’m not interested in that.’ (Gareth K Vile)


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CABARET DRAG-OPTICON Britannia Panopticon, Glasgow, Fri 7 Feb and monthly lllll

Mother of all tuckers, Alana Duvey presents a show which isn’t afraid to speak to modern issues, while retaining a glamorous, tongue-in-many-cheeks aesthetic. Drag-Opticon feels like a welcome riposte to the safe and bland drag that’s been assimilated into mainstream media. CarrieAnn Crow’s burlesque is a witty mash-up of Peaches and 50s pin-up poses. Her bump'n’grind routine feels filthy but fresh, an intoxicating homage to drag past and present, as well as a nod to queer club culture. Meanwhile, shapeshifting artist Dharma Geddon has a glorious singing voice, but her dystopian survivalist routine is where she excels, with a rainbow flag deployed like an updated version of the vaudeville butterfly dance.

Rujazzle’s sex-doll becoming sentient is a pointed interrogation of life-sized dolls being consumed by frustrated businessmen. Both her physicality and ideas are mesmerising. Also impressive is Lacy Rain’s parody of vintage cartoon sex offender Pepé Le Pew, with this problematic character given a swift kick to his sense of entitlement. Rain’s slinky dancing, prowling and spraying her ‘scent’ over the audience is spiky drag for the #MeToo era, where consent is both sexy and necessary. (Lorna Irvine)

94 THE LIST 1 Feb–31 Mar 2020

CLASSIC ADAPTATION MRS PUNTILA AND HER MAN MATTI Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 28 Feb– Sat 21 Mar; Tramway, Glasgow, Wed 25 Mar–Sat 11 Apr

One of Scotland’s best loved crime writers, Denise Mina, is not one for taking predictable routes in her work. Her piece for A Play, A Pie And A Pint, Ida Tamson, had her teaming up with comedic actor Elaine C Smith, a fruitful collaboration focusing on gangsters and the impact on their families.

Now they are reunited for Mina’s unique spin

on the Bertolt Brecht comedy Mr Puntila and His Man Matti. A lifelong admirer of Brecht since she was stage manager at the tender age of 15 on a production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle at Bromley Little Theatre, Mina aims to repurpose this particular play for a whole new audience. For Mina, the gender swap to Mrs Puntila and

Her Man Matti is necessary. ‘Gender blindness is quite the trend in theatre at the moment, and I love it,’ she says. ‘It means that the play is a bit more Harvey Keitel and a bit less Harvey Weinstein. We want it to be really, really funny. We want people to leave feeling uplifted and angry and motivated to take no shit, and stand up for each other. In the original, Brecht says “never accept your rights as charity”, and that’s pretty much the theme of it. We want riots!’ (Lorna Irvine)

CONTEMPORARY DRAMA SEEDS Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 20 & Sat 21 Mar Focusing on two mothers, both of whom are trying to deal with the reality of knife crime, seeds is a new script that uses the immediacy of performance to address British’s society’s assumptions about crime, violence and race.

‘The use of the term “knife crime” can be reductive,’ says playwright Mel Pennant. ‘People may feel that it is or isn’t their problem, that it’s about one race or another, or a particular demographic or type of young person. The play seeks to challenge that sort of shorthand. It explores the danger of creating “otherness”: it’s about them or me but never us.’

Amid a Traverse programme that ranges across a variety of new writing and challenging issues, seeds is explicit in both its intentions and belief that theatre offers a unique opportunity. ‘Theatre provides a powerful, magical place where an audience, these two mothers and their story all come together in a moment in time,’ Pennant continues. ‘By their interaction, they evolve with this conversation about who we are. It’s this one opportunity to really dig deep and explore their despair and longing, and how they define their future in a space that has become very limiting for both of them.’ (Gareth K Vile)