Theatre Al Fresco

Theatre Al Fresco


Game Plan by Alan Ayckbourn at Pitlochry Festival Theatre was an absolute delight. Directed by Richard Baron and starring three female actors, the play explores that most volatile of human relationships between a mother and her teenage daughter.

Lynette and Sorrel Saxon – Amanda Osborne and Kirsty Mackay – find themselves abandoned (for another woman) and penniless ( internet business is like that). Lynette works as an office cleaner and Sorrel is faced with having to commute into her prestigious London school. While Lynette is securing interviews and calling in favours with various degrees of success, Sorrel goes off to talk to the ‘BAD Girl’ who was expelled from her school for soliciting. She also leans on her dotty friend, Kelly – Gemma McElhinney – to help.

Let the farce begin.

Delicious one liners, slow burning jokes (what is that sink plunger doing there?), excellent costume choices and a superb ending ensure the whole play captures and enthrals from the get-go.

Run continues. Tickets here

Home and Beauty Somerset Maugham

Home and Beauty by Somerset Maugham is one of this year’s line-up at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

Directed by Richard Baron the play takes on accepted social norms of 1919 and trashes them conclusively.

Victoria, played with wonderful energy and total self-belief, by Isla Carter is a monster. She manages to equate marrying two DSOs with war-work and Maugham spares us nothing in her hedonistic outlook on life which sees her hogging the coal to have a fire in her bedroom while the rest of the house freezes.

Mayhem ensues from the moment her dead first husband, Major Cardew returns and in a scene of unalloyed farce, takes a wee while to learn that his wife has married his best friend in his absence. Major Lowndes then makes sterling, but ultimately futile, efforts to leave his wife to her first husband.

The play is a delight of exploding social norms, human frailties and that age-old maxim – Be careful what you ask for, lest you achieve it.

The audience need only remember what’s predictable in today’s climate of hapless males being taken to the cleaners by the women in their lives, was by no means expected in 1919. Mark Elstob gave a joyful performance of the divorce lawyer, AB Raham, trashing any regard for the law a lawyer might be expected to hold. In this character, Maugham shows remarkable prescience. Indeed taken as a whole, the celebrity culture of today is laid out by him.



Passing Places by Stephen Greenhorn, has always been on at the wrong time or in the wrong place for me so I was really glad to be able to catch it last Saturday evening at Pitlochry.

It did not disappoint. Richard Baron’s fast moving direction made excellent use of the unusual set by Adrian Rees.

The programme note by Baron refers to the different aspects of Scotland the play tackles such as “geography, its industry, history, and ethnicity,” One thing, however, I found in the play was an underlying hymn to the break-up of family and the reconstituting of ‘family’ for those abandoned or ejected.

Alex seems to have no Dad. Brian had a mum, who destroyed his life-changing project, but she dies, Mirren has a dad and no mum either. Mirren’s dad has no wife and now his daughter can’t bear to live with him. The villain, Binks, has a mum he clearly adores in the sentimental way that gangsters are often portrayed as doing. How did they get so far off the rails, then?

There’s no sense that Greenhorn is advocating the ubiquitous ‘family values’ beloved of desperate politicians, but there is a strong sense of how people fit in. It’s a poignant moment when Diesel tells Mirren she’s not right for his commune.

Coming of age was never more beautifully depicted – oh, and that’s an important word in this script.

Dates until Friday 17th October 2014. Treat yourself, and the family, whoever they are.