Biggar & District

Theatre Group

There are currently 26 members of the theatre group who have had regular outings to Edinburgh, Peebles and Biggar to see productions. We aim to have one theatre visit per month.to a matinee performance usually to the Lyceum in Edinburgh. This allows us to travel free to Edinburgh by bus and also to take advantage of reduced ticket prices for matinee performances. However we have also attended evening productions at Peebles and in Biggar. New members are always welcome so why not come along to one of our outings.

U3A Theatre Group

Season 2019 - 2020

PlayDate attendingNames and money to me by
Barber Shop Chronicles30th October14th October
An Edinburgh Christmas Carol
Pride and Prejudice (sort of)29th January13th January
Mrs Puntila and her man Matti11th March24th February
Barefoot in the park22nd April6th April
Life is a Dream27th May11th May

These plays and dates are all for the Lyceum in Edinburgh for the matinee performances. All tickets are £21 and the money must be paid to me on the date listed - I then pay for the seats and therefore cannot refund any money should members be unable to attend.

Jean Henderson,
e-mail jeanhenderson506@btinternet.com
For more information about these productions go to http://lyceum.org.uk/whats-on

Review of play seen on March 11th, 2020

Mrs Puntila and her man Matti.

Elaine C Smith and Steven McNicoll starred in this adaptation of the Bertcht play which 13 of us attended on Wednesday the 11March. This is the story of Mrs Puntila a very wealthy women who when drunk is a kind and generous boss, but when sober is a cruel and greedy tyrant. Matti is is her chauffeur who tries to iron out the problems she causes when sober. He is hopelessly in love with her daughter who is betrothed to someone else.
This was a very lively production and the two main performers were excellent and the supporting cast were very good. The play was funny and the music added variety. Generally speaking we enjoyed this play but felt that the second half was stronger than the first, but worth going to see.

Our next outing is scheduled for Wednesday 22 April to see ‘Barefoot in the park’, however this is dependent on the theatre still being open because of the current situation. I will notify members if it is cancelled.

Review of play seen on Janary 29th, 2020

Pride and Prejudice (sort of).

12 of the Theatre Group attended this performance on Wednesday 29th January at the Lyceum, Edinburgh. This is a modern adaptation of the famous Jane Austen novel. Six women took the role of maid servants to tell the story of Mrs Bennett and her drive to see all her daughters married before their father died, when his estate would pass to a male cousin, leaving her and her daughters penniless and homeless.
Each of the actors took on several roles and skilfully and seamlessly slipped into each character - for example one played a maid then Mr Bingley, his sister then Miss Fairfax. The story unfolded much as it does in the book, but included songs and a great deal of humour. There was even reference to the scene from the television series when Mr Darcy swam the lake – in this version when he entered the house one of the maids asked why he was dry and he asked why wouldn’t I be? She then mimed swimming behind his back! The audience loved this.
Almost all of those who attended loved this show and would thoroughly recommend it.

Review of play seen on October 30th, 2019

The Barber Shop Chronicles
Fifteen of the Theatre Group attended The Barber Shop Chronicles on Wednesday 30th October.
‘Directed by Olivier award-winning director Bijan Sheibani and designed by Rae Smith (War Horse), Barber Shop Chronicles is a heart-warming, hilarious and insightful new play that leaps from a barber shop in Peckham to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra over the course of a single day. For generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling. The Barber Shops are newsrooms, political platforms, local hotspots, confession boxes, preacher-pulpits and football stadium.’ (Extract from website).
The cast was, I think, 10 men but they moved around the stage so much it seemed like more. The show was very lively including singing and dancing and audience participation. However some of us found it difficult to follow partly because some of the actors had strong accents and some had voices that did not carry, so were difficult to hear. However I think everyone did enjoy it because it was good fun.

2018 - 2019 season

Twelfth Night
Ten of the Theatre Group went, with some trepidation, to see a modern production of Twelfth Night at the Lyceum on Wednesday the 3rd October.
The play opened at a house party in the 1970’s. The partygoers were dressed in kaftans, silver platform boots, beads and other assorted flower power outfits. Having spent themselves on drugs, alcohol and dancing, one of the group found a copy of Twelve Night and decided that they should enact the play which they did with rock music, dancing and great comic acting. They made full use of Shakespeare’s love of mixing genders to confuse the audience, for example Toby was played by a woman- even the Bard did not see that one coming. It was lively, funny and very entertaining. Most of the group thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Cyrano De Bergerac
11 of the Theatre group attended Cyrano De Bergerac on Wednesday 31 October.
‘The hugely romantic Cyrano de Bergerac is given a Caledonian heart in a new production of Edwin Morgan’s legendary Scots translation directed by Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill.
The swashbuckling and flamboyant Cyrano has a personality as large as his nose but it’s this facial carbuncle that prevents him from revealing his love for Roxane. He lends his poetic skills instead to the more outwardly handsome Christian, who wins Roxane’s heart through his passionate ghost-written letters. Through the years, Cyrano continues to put quill to parchment, risking his life in the process, to express his true feelings for the woman who sees him only as a rambunctious uncle until it’s almost too late…’ (taken from Lyceum Website).
The whole play is done is rhyme and in Scots. How the lead actor remembered his lines was amazing because he had a lot of them. Personally I did not really enjoy this play but could appreciate the performances. Several members of the group thought it was great while others took a bit longer to adapt to the language and verse.

Touching the Void.
Nine of the group attended the play Touching the Void, at the Lyceum Theatre on Wednesday 13 February.
I have to admit not looking forward to this production because of its subject. The play opens in a pub in Glencoe where a wake is being held for Joe Simpson who recently died in a mountaineering accident. Present is Joe’s sister who is trying to understand why people feel they have to put their lives at risk by climbing.
Also present is Simon who had been on a previous climb with Joe when they had attempted to climb the perilous Siula Grande Mountain in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. One the climb Joe had an accident and broke his leg. Connecting himself to Joe by a rope, Simon tried to lower his injured friend to safety, but Joe fell down a crevasse and was left dangling in mid-air. After battling for several hours in freezing winds and knowing that they would both ultimately fall into the void, Simon made the agonising decision to cut the rope and send his friend to a certain death, thereby saving himself. Joe faces a mental battle as he teeters on the brink of death and despair in a crevasse from which he seemingly cannot escape. By some miracle he survived the fall and managed to get himself off the mountain.
It was a nail-biting adventure rich in psychodrama and suspense, well - acted and imaginatively staged, everything about this productions was superb and we all agreed that it was one of the best plays we have seen.

Local Hero
Many people remember the film Local Hero with great affection. Written by Bill Forsyth, it was released in 1983. Burt Lancaster played an oil tycoon (Mac) who wanted to buy the village of Ferness in the Scottish Highlands and build an oil refinery.
One resident owned the shoreline and he refused to sell, much to the dismay of the other residents. This Local Hero persuaded Mac the area had more to offer than oil.
This is a new musical production of Local Hero, written by Bill Forsyth and David Greig, music by Mark Knopfler and directed by John Crowley.
This production was sold out at the Lyceum almost as soon as it was publicised and additional dates had to be added. As always we had our tickets booked in advance and nine of the Theatre group attended the matinee show on Wednesday 17th April. We were not disappointed – the music, staging and
performances were terrific and thoroughly enjoyed by us all.
If you get the chance you should try and see this highly recommended show

The Duchess of Malfi
This was the last theatre visit of the season at the Lyceum in Edinburgh. Nine of us attended the
performance on Wednesday 29 May.
The website describes it as ‘Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi is the most thrilling and chilling of the Jacobean revenge tragedies – an exploration of male rage and female resistance as two brothers try and control their sister, block her marriage and repress her agency with fatal results.’
We were warned that the play contained scenes of a sexual nature, bad language and violence which it duly delivered. The first two did not really bother any of us too much but the violence was horrendous. In one scene the Duchess was tortured then murdered and in the last scene there were I
think 4 murders. Each murder resulted in blood - at one point they actually mopped the blood from the stage.
Having said that – the acting and staging were superb, but I cannot say that any of us really enjoyed it but it was thought provoking and led to interesting discussions on the way home.

2017 -2018 season

What Shadows
Eight U3A members attended the Lyceum in Edinburgh to see this play by Chris Hannan, directed by Roxana Silbert.
The play moved between two time periods:
1968 - When Midlands MP Enoch Powell had something to say. Something he felt needed to be said. Something that could divide Britain forever. Enoch Powell's 'Rivers of Blood' speech is the post-war's most polarising political speech.
1992 – Saw Oxford academic and daughter of a Caribbean immigrant, Rose Cruickshank who wanted answers. Enoch's controversial words about immigration had shattered her childhood. Would a meeting with the man himself allow her to find the inner peace she desperately craved?
While this play raised a lot of questions I did not feel engaged with it and the way the material was presented. I found it confusing and sometimes had difficulty in hearing some of the dialogue, and there was a lot of dialogue! Most of the group felt the same although one member really enjoyed it. This just shows we all have different tastes and viewpoints. However I am sure that over the whole season we will all find something that we will both enjoy and make us think.

Cockpit
Thirteen of us attended a performance of Cockpit written by Bridget Bolanat the lyceum theatre.
An enjoyable afternoon was had by everyone. The entire theatre was the stage with props distributed throughout
The topic was about displaced persons following the end of World War 2 being returned to their homeland, different nationalities ,ethnic backgrounds all together and all with different views and opinions and beliefs. No easy task as it is proving to this day with Europe as it is. Have any lessons been learned??

The Belle's Stratagem
Eleven of us went to Lyceum to see The Belle's Stratagem. Set in Georgian Edinburgh, we follow the story of Letitia who has been betrothed since birth to Doricourt. Unfortunately the handsome Doricourt,upon his return from France, declares that continental women are much more sophisticated than Scottish lassies. Letitia wants his love and assisted by 3 other "belles" plots to seduce him. The result is hilarious, good Scottish humour with a bit of slapstick, including the fat man in a dress. Needless to say the women win! A super fun afternoon was had by all.

Rhinoceros
Eight of the Theatre group attended Rhinoceros at The lyceum, Edinburgh. Zinnie Harris has created a new version of this classic play by Eugene Ionesco
‘In a sleepy French provincial town, a rhinoceros rampages across the market square. Another crushes someone’s cat.
A woman sounds the alarm: it is the townspeople themselves who are transforming into these raging beasts. As more and more of the citizens embrace their future as rhinos, just one man – the drunkard Berenger – refuses to transform. But why does he feel so out of step with everyone else? And what will his refusal to conform cost him
This 1959 play is an uproarious absurdist farce – and a chilling examination of conformism, nationalism, fascism and fundamentalism that has been compared with Orwell’s Animal Farm and Camus’s The Plague. It considers the countless ways in which humans are content to adapt themselves to new and horrifying circumstances, and give in to poisonous ideologies.
Alongside its piercing political insights, it is comic, thrillingly theatrical and deeply human, focusing on the unlikely hero of the everyman Berenger, and the possibility of resistance to what might seem inevitable.’
This is a short play lasting about 1hr 40min but in that time it delivered everything promised in the publicity. It was thought provoking, very funny and the staging was exciting and unusual. I particularly liked the sound effects which almost brought the rhinoceros into the auditorium and here were a number of surprises like a giant beheaded cat landing on the stage – you had to be there. The whole group loved this production which we would recommend to everyone.

Jean Henderson,
e-mail jeanhenderson506@btinternet.com
For more information about these productions go to http://lyceum.org.uk/whats-on

More Group Pages
French Books/Reading Group Bridge Group Craft/Textiles Group
Creative Writing Group Lunch Group Mah Jong Mah Jong for Beginners
Photography Group Science and Technology Slow Walking Group Table Tennis
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More Group Pages
French Books/Reading Group
Bridge Group Craft/Textiles Group
Creative Writing Group Lunch Group
Mah Jong Mah Jong for Beginners
Photography Group Science and Technology
Slow Walking Group Table Tennis
The Quiz Group Theatre Group
Ukelele for Beginners Ukulele
Walking Group Wine Appreciation