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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Theatre review: Still Game

Published in the Guardian

Hyrdo, Glasgow
Three stars

THE last time I saw Still Game on stage was at the Brunton in Musselburgh, a theatre with a capacity of 300. That was in the late 1990s and now, after six television series, sundry seasonal specials and a seven-year hiatus, Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill have built up the pulling power to play a 21-night run at the Hydro in front of 12,000 people a time.
This is theatre on a scale I have never seen. It’s so big, I’m not even sure theatre is the right word for it. The stage is dominated by three giant screens showing a sophisticated live edit of the sitcom action below. Even in the posh seats, it feels more like being a studio audience.
With voices echoing, Gavin Mitchell’s Boaby the barman opens up at the Clansman in time for his regulars, while Sanjeev Kohli’s Navid sets out the value pies in the corner shop. The audience – or is it a rally? – roars its approval with every arrival, not least when everybody’s favourite geriatric jesters Jack and Victor finally show up in Jack’s front room.
So far so cosy, but then something extraordinary happens. Sensing the untheatrical nature of their own TV love-in, Kiernan and Hemphill move from self-referential jokes about the inadvisability of comeback gigs to a meta-theatrical discussion about the fourth wall. Before we know it, they’ve switched to direct audience address and full-on standup patter.
They transform the energy in the room and, although the show settles back into sitcom familiarity for a story about Jack giving a drunken, transatlantic, father-of-the-bride speech, the stakes have been raised. All it takes is for Jane McCarry’s rosy-cheeked Isa to drink some magic mushroom soup and the stage becomes a hallucinogenic Bollywood spectacular. It’s a thrilling end to Michael Hines’s production and a narrow theatrical victory.
© Mark Fisher 2014 
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