American Idiot (3* / 4*)

Ian’s 3* Review:

I had little idea what to expect of American Idiot, but Ruth told me it had a wonderful reception on Broadway so we thought we’d see for ourselves.  The music was pretty true to the Green Day original tracks (not “musicalised” like We Will Rock You or Mamma Mia) which was good, but that did make for a difficult narrative.  While I was enjoying the music I really enjoyed the show, but when it segued into narrative in between numbers I kept being surprised. “Oh, there’s supposed to be a plot isn’t there!”.  Overall I thought this was a professional and energetic musical performance with a weak plot.

P.S. They are pretty strict at the Playhouse about not allowing photography during the performance so I played safe and took a picture before the curtain went up…

Ruth’s 4* Review:

I’m not sure what to make of this one.  It was hugely well received by the audience.  I felt quite indifferent to it when I was watching it, but then somehow when it had finished it had all come together and sat a bit better with me.  But ideally you like things as you watch them right?!

The singing was good and in places excellent, particularly the mainest of the three main guys (Alex Nee).  Several of the cast played guitar during their songs, which was  nice touch.

The set was great, very interesting to look at and used quite innovatively during the dances.  The band were on stage too, which worked very well with the musical style.

The dancing was fine and in places (such as one about the army and the flying dream sequence) very good.

I liked how the style of it maintained some of the original integrity of the music, whilst making it suitably musical-y for the stage.  I thought it might have been cheesier, but it wasn’t too Glee.  Not sure what a true Green Day fan would make of it though!

For me the story (or lack of) let it down.  Not much happened.  Some young lads left home, had some tough times, and came back again.  With mainly singing and very little narrative this wasn’t straightforward to grasp on a song-by-song basis although it did all come together a bit in the end.

I’m giving it 4* because I think the various bits fell somewhere between 3.5* and 4.5*…

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Lyceum: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (4.5* / 4*)

Ian’s 4.5* Review:

The Lyceum always does a Shakespeare in its season, and this year it was the turn of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – which I have neither read nor seen in theatre before (I don’t quite know how I’ve managed that).

With no points of reference from other productions, I can only say I thoroughly enjoyed this, and thought it was excellent.

The cast all made compelling characters, but Bottom and Puck were truimphant portrayals.  Bottom managed to be thoroughly likeable at the same time as being both painfully self obsessed and utterly hilarious.  Puck was delighfully creepy, and her physical presence on stage was almost inhuman.  Cheeky, charming and completely off her rocker!

In the very early parts of the play, I did occasionally get slightly lost in the Shakespearian language, but I never had the slightest difficulty following the plot.

Having seen this on a preview, I’m posting this as quickly as I can so the review may serve as a recommendation to others.

Ruth’s 4* Review:

I’m no huge fan of Shakespeare but I did think if I was going to see one I might prefer a comedy. And I’ve seen this one before.

I enjoyed it.

The staging was stunning, very very aesthetically lovely with a clean and sparse set (with snow) working really well with a a beautifully costumed cast. The teeny fairies were delicate and pretty. The main characters looked a bit like they were about to enter the Crystal Maze in bright coloured outfits but it all worked very well together.

Bottom in particular was terrific, just the right combination of arrogant, ridiculous and hilarious. The fight between Lysander and Demetrius was also very funny.

I saw something of Bubble from Ab Fab in Puck, and something of Sue White from Green Wing in Titania – but maybe that says more about me than them…

Idina Menzel (4*)

Ruth’s review:

After a client meeting in Morecambe I got back to Edinburgh quick sharp as Ian and I had tix to see Idina Menzel in concert at the Usher Hall. What a legend Idina Menzel is, star of Broadway (and latterly the West End) and most famous for her roles in Rent and Wicked. I love Wicked, without wishing to get too mushy the story and the songs really speak to me. So it was very exciting to see the original Elpheba sing Elpheba’s songs. Oh yeah, and she’s in Glee too as the main character’s mother. Don’t forget Glee.

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The Guid Sisters (3*)

Ian’s Review

We usually see most of the plays in the Lyceum’s season, and they are usually of a very high standard.

The Guid Sisters was an entertaining season opener, but the the way the production weaved soliloquies from the main characters into the action felt clumsy and slightly overdone.  This in turn made the production feel disjointed, a bit like channel hopping on the television between two different channels coverage of the same event.  I’ve seen this sort of thing done much better.

The cast delivered a lot of energy and managed to make their characters feel as thoroughly dislikeable as the plot demanded.  It feels to me like their performance was let down by the staging.