PIC 'N' MIX
A little reminder of our more recent productions and awards. Take your pick, either scroll down through our photos then on to our mixture of reviews received over the last few years. Or jump direct to our MIX.
PIC-tures of EPT Cast, Crew & Friends
(Photographs by Robert S Fuller and members of the company for Edinburgh People's Theatre)
THE HOLY TERROR
RUNNER-UP EVENING NEWS DRAMA AWARDS 2007
The Cast of The Holy Terror receiving their award
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road
by Tony Roper, with music by David Anderson
Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road
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MIX-ture of Past Reviews & Awards
STOOSHIE AT THE STORE by Irene Beaver
Edinburgh Evening News - Thom Dibdin (Thursday, 10th August 2006)
"CROSS dressing, nostalgia and romance prove an irresistible combination as Edinburgh People's Theatre live up to the promise of their name with this funny and fascinating play. Set in the St Cuthbert's Co-Operative store on Bread Street, just before the company's centenary in 1959, this is a story of dividends and personal service. Stooshie in the Store will appeal most to those who have an interest in Edinburgh's history, or who recognise the details of a way of life which, even then, was just about to be lost to impersonal supermarket shopping. Here is Edinburgh as it was, and still is, in many ways. And, reminiscences aside, it even makes you proud to shop at Scotmid. The wardrobe crew have done a great job too, with Carol Caldwell and Jane Barrow finding costumes which fit both the era of the play and the class and positions of the different characters. Edinburgh People's Theatre can be justifiably proud of a production which marks their appearance on this year's Fringe as the only company which was also in the first Fringe, 60 years ago."
The Scotsman - Claire Smith (Friday, 11th August 2006)
"EDINBURGH People's Theatre is a real institution. The longest-running company on the Fringe, it has put on a show every year since 1959. The company has strong links with the co-operative movement and playwright Irene Beaver continues the tradition, setting her new gentle comedy in St Cuthbert's co-op in Bread Street in 1959. The modern-day Co-op even supplies free coffee and biscuits in the interval. Beaver has a fine ear for dialogue and has woven together a story which draws deeply on oral history and is rich with local knowledge and reminiscence. For the Edinburgh folk who have packed the church hall to the back seats, this is a journey of nostalgia and you can hear the murmurs of recognition with every mention of a well-known character or a building now disappeared. It is an affectionate picture of the capital in the 50s, when communities were still rebuilding themselves after the war. By today's standards the characters seem restrained, but beneath the refined Edinburgh manners there is warmth and genuine humour. I was so carried away by the post-war ambience that when one character invited another to address her by her first name, I actually shed a tear."
'ALLO 'ALLO by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft
Edinburgh Evening News - Thom Dibdin (Friday, 30th March 2007)
"SPLENDIDLY saucy and boasting a clutch of great little cameo performances, the Edinburgh People's Theatre have made a more than decent fist of this theatre version of the classic TV sitcom. This production might not be perfect - and anyone looking for note-perfect accents and an exact replication of the TV characters will be disappointed - but the company understands the essential comedy of the original. To the point where you need neither to be a fan, nor even to know anything about it, to have a thoroughly enjoyable evening out. There is a plot - concerning a big German sausage, a Cockatoo, a big-breasted Madonna, and a plot to kill Hitler - which is given a suitably basic telling. It, like the complicated but well-fashioned set, and the exceptional costumes is really only there as a platform for the laughs. The BBC has just recorded a one-off special of 'Allo 'Allo to be broadcast later in the spring. For those who can't wait, let me say, and I'll say it only once, EPT have done more than enough to whet the appetite."
THE DRESSER by Ronald Harwood
Edinburgh Evening News - Thom Dibdin (Thursday, 24th May 2007)
"EDINBURGH People's Theatre have excelled themselves in this tight, sympathetic and thoughtfully acted production of The Dresser, by Ronald Harwood. Set in the dressing room of the actor-manager of a Shakespearean rep company, touring the war-torn English provinces in 1942, The Dresser is, in itself, a beautifully balanced piece of theatre. This well-observed creation of back-stage life is just the half of it, however. A fact which, thankfully, director Colin Stirling-Whyte fully realises. It would be so easy, particularly for an amateur company, to play up the comedy of the greasepaint, while the real meat lies in the play's study of humanity at war, in love, and in decline. All the basic humour is there. Richard Godden as the Dresser, Norman, and Pat Hymers as Sir, build up their characters with great attention to detail. They create such a believable situation on the stage that you don't just imagine the theatre in which they are appearing, but can see the war raging beyond. It is also a strong enough platform for them to transcend such a basic reading of the play, and begin to address its much greater concerns. You understand that this is King Lear as seen through the eyes of the Fool. And in Godden, the company are blessed with an actor who is not just perfect for the role, but who has the stage craft to bring it off. So too, it must be said, do those playing the minor characters. Each has such a brief time to make their mark, and such full characters to portray, that overstating them would be easy. Instead, the likes of Valerie Lennie as Her Ladyship, Sir's common-law wife and leading lady, let the lines do all the work. Helen E Nix could, however, give her character, Madge the stage manger who knows she will never have the man she loves, just a little bit more. And the opening scene is just a shade too static. Such minor picks aside, this is nothing short of a real treat for theatre goers. A strong piece of theatre given a great reading and an equally intelligent staging. Bravo!"
THE HOLY TERROR by James Scotland
Edinburgh Evening News - Thom Dibdin (Monday, 13th August 2007)****
"A BELLYFULL of laughs are to be had up at St Peter's in the Southside, where the Edinburgh People's Theatre are staging their new adaptation of Moliere's Tartuffe. There are a few moral warnings too, as James Scotland's perky script takes the Michael out of rich jeweller Archibald Ogilvie, who has been taken in by the false priest, Isaac Tarland. Set in Edinburgh in the late 17th century, the political and religious background sits easily with the plot. James VII has fled, the Jacobites are hunted and the city is ripe for the sort of radical puritanism Tarland preaches. At least, it likes to be seen to be supporting it. The production hits the ground running with a barnstorming performance from Lyzzie Dell as Madame Ogilvie, Archie's God-fearing mother. She won't hear a bad word said against Tarland - but she has plenty of her own to say about her indolent family and their feisty servant, Etta, as they sit around waiting for Archie to return from a business trip. She has a point when it comes to her grandson Jamie (Stephen Graham). He's given to flashing the cash to impress the ladies which, as he doesn't actually have any money of his own and has built up a debt of honour at the milliners and the dressmakers, does leave him rather dependent on his father's good will. Her granddaughter Marianne (Anne Mackenzie) is not the brightest, but still would like her father's blessing to marry his best friend Allan Hay's son, Donald. Nigel Jarvis' glaikit portrayal of Donald is perfectly done. To be fair on Archie's young second wife Clarissa, underplayed to the point of perfection by Mairi Beaver, there is not a lot she can do while waiting for her husband. And even when he does arrive, his only thoughts are for Tarland's wellbeing. There are early intimations that Tarland might not be the saint he makes himself out to be. It seems that while he might denounce Etta (Mandy Black) in public for the more than prominent display of her ample cleavage, when they are alone, he is all wandering hands, much to her distaste. Here is a stage set exactly right for a big dose of mayhem with the return of Archie, all rubber-faced and full of pompous pronouncements in Iain Fraser's excellent portrayal - and the eventual appearance of Stuart McEwan in full supercilious and buttock-clenched mode as Tarland himself. It is all very well done indeed. If the Tartuffe story has been translated into Scots before, the benefit of this new version by James Scotland is that he has been able to tailor it to the demands and undoubted abilities of the cast. Under John Lyon's direction it fairly bustles along as Etta and Clarissa try to entrap Tarland - but only succeed in sending Archie even further into his thrall. And it looks as if the family fortune will be lost for ever. There's room for the occasional extra depth to the characterisation, but all told this is a strong telling, and an entertaining evening out."
"The Evening News Drama Awards 2007 (The Endas)"
Edinburgh Evening News - Gareth Edwards (Friday, 23rd August 2007)
"..The runner-up prize went to the Edinburgh People's Theatre for its show The Holy Terror, described by the judges as a hilarious romp through Scottish history. Afterwards John Lyon, 76, a retired bank manager who has been performing with the company for 40 years, confessed to being thrilled that the company had been given recognition for its work. "We have had a fantastic festival, and this just tops it all," he said. "To get an award is a real treat for an amateur company, and I think it's fantastic that there has been this recognition, of all the shows, as it keeps them going and gives them something to really strive for."
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
Edinburgh Evening News - Thom Dibdin (Tuesday, 18th December 2007)
"ROUSING songs, audience participation and a thigh-slapping principal boy to rival the best in Pantoland mark out EPT's version of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Church Hill Theatre. Which given the energy and vitality of the cast and chorus should put it up there with the very best. The songs might be rousing and presented with top dance routines by a chorus who can both dance and sing, but there are so many that they break up the flow of the story. A production that has its moments - the Eurovision finale and the ghostly dark show are great - ..."
OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck
Edinburgh Evening News - Thom Dibdin (Tuesday, 3rd April 2008)
"Strong central pair carry play to stunning finale - A pair of strong and very well judged central performances ensure that this production of John Steinbeck's classic tale from Edinburgh People's Theatre holds its audience from start to finish. John Lally is George, the itinerant farmhand in 1930s America, and Pat Hymers is Lennie, his big, loveable but dim-witted pal. From the very first moment you can feel the bond between the two. As the play develops, the two performers allow their characters to grow. Lally gets all the human frailty of George. He tempers his exasperation at Lennie's ability to get himself into trouble, with a delightfully open and evocative telling of the wee dream of a farm of their own, which George has conjured up to dangle before Lennie as a carrot, to coax him through the day. Hymers is completely endearing as Lennie and as innocent a mortal as he needs to be for the play to work. Even when he kills small animals, he does so with no malice, but as a result of not knowing his own strength when he pets them. As Michael Mulligan's simple, minimal but very effective set carries the pair from besides the river to the ranch where they will meet their fate, the supporting characters are adequate to keep the play rolling along... Richard Godden as Candy, the old, incapacitated farmhand who befriends them, and Tony Sehgal as Slim, the friendly driver of a mule-team, both create reasonably substantial characters... Although the production has failings, there is much more that is right about it. Indeed, the ending is so well done as to have stunned the opening night audience into a shocked silence. Powerful stuff, indeed."
THE STEAMIE by Tony Roper
(with Music by David Anderson)
Edinburgh Evening News - Thom Dibdin (Friday, 23rd May 2008) ****
"Hot stuff and a washtub full of belly laughs - NOSTALGIA gets a comic twist up at the Church Hill Theatre this week as Edinburgh People's Theatre present a bright, bold and utterly hilarious new production of The Steamie. Set sometime in the late 1950s in Glasgow, Tony Roper's piece of classic modern comedy tells of four women who spend Hogmanay evening down in their local steamie. While it might be time to make sure everything is spick and span before the new year arrives, the four still have plenty of time to chat, gossip and laugh. The key decision for getting this so right has been to lay the foundation of the piece on reality. From Steve Roberts' lifelike recreation of the stalls of a municipal steamie to the women's costumes and the old prams they cart their washing around in, this looks the part. Soaring happily over any of the potent temptations to overact or turn nostalgia into mawkish sentimentality, director John Somerville has followed on from the late Alex Keith, who directed EPT's most recent production of The Steamie in 2003. He has given the cast free rein to create a set of believable and engaging characters. Having done so, they deftly sidestep the play's other strong temptation – to play it solely for laughs. By reinstating David Anderson's rarely-performed original songs under Anne Mackenzie's light musical direction, they are able to step outside the main action and give the whole piece an edge of social comment. The show-stealing star of the whole piece has to be Sheila Somerville, who plays the slightly batty older woman, Dolly. A diminutive motor-mouth, she's forever disturbing everyone else with the latest piece of gossip and is the centre of any piece of frivolity. Youngest of the four is Doreen, who Mairi Beaver makes a real dreamer – not just in the way she hopes for a time when women are no longer tied to the drudgery of housework, but through every aspect of her performance. She is excellent, from her sharp-toned singing to the expression on her face as she gratefully puts her feet into a bucket of warm water. Mandy Black puts in a solid performance as Magrit, a woman who knows how to be ferocious when she needs to be – especially when standing up for her pals against the steamie's janitor, Andy (Ronnie Millar), who is half intent on enforcing the rules and half intent on having a wee dram. Joan Hunter convinces as Mrs Culfeathers, a very old body who is not too long for this world but who still has to take in washing to make ends meet. The result is a cast who work together to create ensemble theatre of a quality that would make a professional company proud. Far and away the most entertaining thing on an Edinburgh stage this week."
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