Theatre Royal: Venue of the Month

The top end of Hope Street is home to Glasgow's oldest theatre, still going strong since 1867. Press officer Mark Irwin lets us in on the details of their summer fare

Feature by David McNally | 10 Jun 2010

"Personally speaking I'm most excited about The Woman In Black," says Irwin, referring to the upcoming production of an evergreen play first staged in 1987 and scaring audiences ever since. "I've seen productions of it all over and this one is definitely worth checking out, especially if you've never seen it performed before. And not to give too much away, but things happen so quickly, out the corner of your eye, that you can see it repeatedly and notice new things each time. It's a fantastic experience."

Not for the faint-hearted though? "It relies a lot on the use of sounds, with sound effects often coming from behind. So yeah, we've had a few yelps from audience members in the past, that usually means they're really getting into the experience!"

Dangerous Liasons – variously a film, a play, and an opera – now comes to Glasgow as a ballet – and an unusual one too. "First of all, it's a ballet with a strong narrative. People who might not be ballet fans could be drawn in by that, or there's the fact that the costumes are unusual for this medium; it's not often you see a ballet dancer in a corset and a powdered wig. Northern Ballet, who are staging it, have had great success with it so far, and the phrase bodice-pipping ballet has been bandied about!"

Something else new to Glasgow is Witness For The Prosecution, based on an Agatha Christie play. "I know it through the film with Marlene Dietrich," says Irwin, "It's a courtroom drama, with a close, claustrophobic atmosphere which many audience members might not be used to – most shows race from location to location so this could be something quite fresh. It's the Agatha Christie Company who are staging it on their third visit to Glasgow; they have built up quite a following here."

Another show to watch out for is Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker's new production, Cruel. Imaginative staging and raw, emotional interplay characterise this highly personal work based around the theme of family.

"This is Deborah's first visit to this venue, bringing a mix of classical and contemporary all the way from Rio. Love, lovers, family bonds – seems all the dance coming here is getting a bit steamy!"

And for variety aficionados, there's a show to conjure up a bit of showbiz razzmatazz. "A bit of jazz hands, yeah!" laughs Irwin. "That would be Strictly Tap Dance Fever, which will mix old school Fred and Ginger stuff with more up to date styles. If you're a fan of Britain's Got Talent, or hark back to the days of Opportunity Knocks or New Faces, this is the place to be. I think there's a strong audience for this type of show; TV programmes like BGT pull in huge figures and the fact that Diversity won last year indicates that popular dance still lives and thrives."

The Theatre Royal clearly has a formula: a classy populism with which even the decor, unchanging in its stately grandeur throughout the decades, seems to be in step.