Thursday, 15 August 2013

Darker side Of The Border on BBC Radio 4 Extra this week

My Radio 4 series of adaptations of classic Scottish gothic tales The Darker Side Of The Border is repeated on digital channel Radio 4 Extra this week, each episode available from the 4 Extra website for 7 days afterwards. Here's the link...

Another 21st Century Poe review

... and here's another review for 21st Century Poe from Fringe Review -

Fringe Review - enue:  Paradise in the Vault 

Low Down
This was one out of a series of three tales. Heart Shaped Hole was Tell Tale Heart for the new generation. Bringing it up to the tenement about to be blown up in Glasgow and blowing off the cobwebs of the past to see the work in a new light but also one that shines in relevance for today. The other two have similar descriptions and update The Fall of the House of Usher and Ligeia.

Marty Ross arrives in the dark. Dressed in a tracksuit he is a thief, a junky looking for a fix. Once the junky gets into the house we are greeted with lights and the illumination of the problem as told by our untrustworthy narrator. The fix is on the thigh of an old man who had an unhealthy interest in wee boys which made the junky’s sojourn morally more acceptable at least to himself. Once he has stolen the stash, made lots of cash and thrown it around whilst entertaining a young girl he rescues whilst in the pursuit of his own ends, his end arrives with confession due to the heart beating louder than his words could ever do.

This was visceral. There was no doubt this was to be an update that cried Trainspotting in the flyer and held nothing back in its telling. Marty Ross is a compelling narrator and onstage presence. Whilst some of the monologue became slightly long winded for me there was never any doubt that this was Poe. The essential elements were well translated into a modern setting that certainly left you thinking as well as reeling.

Ross’s ability to transform himself into the old man through the ever seeing eye of that old man’s own abuse was remarkable. Never less than compelling this was theatre that kept you on edge and occasionally threatened to send you off it.

One man, one bhoran, one chair and a tracksuit: as a set list it hardly needs a transit but it was all that was needed as a door in the venue was used to good effect as the old man’s front door; the side of the archway, where the young girl was held captive in the flat.

As a raconteur it is the utter conviction with which Ross performs that does not allow you time to consider what is being said but draws you into his world. His character driven monologue is on full speed and ahead is the direction you get dragged in. There are no periods for reflection or doubt, this is happening and it’s happening NOW!

It was almost a full house when I went and it certainly deserved that. The audience were appreciative though a little reserved at the end. I put this down to a collective letting out of breath at the end of the roller coaster rather than a lack of appreciation.

It was unsophisticated storytelling and in a manner that left all the rough edges hanging. Anything that was surplus to requirements was turfed but it still had the raw emotional energy that dragged people kicking and screaming into the narrative. It was this lack of sophistication and light and shade that gave me some doubts. It perhaps needed more in the way of colour to heighten the effects of the story rather than having a full speed charge towards the eventual conclusion. That having been said, it was an immensely entertaining ride that scared and shocked in equal measure – a fair ground ghost ride for the 21st Century of which Poe would have been rightly proud.

Reviewed by Donald C Stewart Friday 9th August 2013

Website :

 Run now ended.

Three weeks review for 21st Century Poe at Edfringe

Here's a review I just saw from Three Weeks for my Edinburgh Fringe show 21st Century Poe last week...

Wednesday 14 August 2013 | By Katharine Wootton
ED2013 Theatre Review: 21st-Century Poe (Marty Ross)

There’s an argument to be had that the tales of Edgar Allen Poe are just fine as they are, thanks. No need for re-inventing. But for what Marty Ross does with some of literature’s most mystical and macabre works, that is, make them sing with new energy and beguile an audience all over again, I’m happy to make an exception. Offering different stories for different evenings, the poetically re-worked ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ which I saw, manages, in its modernisation, to still preserve and revere the original, even intensifying its impact. Physically sweating out his enthusiasm for Poe, Marty Ross delivers a bewitchingly good story that leaves a haunting reminder long after the lights have gone down.

Friday, 9 August 2013

21st Century Poe Scotsman review

And here's my review by Claire Smith in the Scotsman...

Scottish playwright and storyteller Marty Ross has rewritten three of Edgar Allan Poe’s supernatural short stories, relocating them to contemporary Scotland.

In the one I saw, The Fall of the House of Usher has been re-imagined as a fable set in the world of contemporary art.

Thus Roderick and Madeleine Usher become a brother and sister pair of conceptual artists, of the shark-in-formaldehyde school, and the Usher mansion is a fabulous, ultra-modern duplex on the banks of the Clyde.

Ross has a great aptitude for suspense and terror, and he hurls himself into his tale with energy and passion, in words which ring with the native Glasgow rhythm.

Sometimes the intensity is a bit too much, but this is an accomplished piece of work which builds towards a chilling conclusion.

Lovers of Poe may also want to seek out Ross’s other two adaptations – The Tell-Tale Heart, reset among drug dealers on a Glasgow scheme, and Ligeia, relocated to the Glasgow punk scene.

Poe a hit in Edinburgh! My reviews reprinted....

Been too busy performing to blog last few days, but the Edinburgh stint for 21st Century Poe is already beginning to feel like a kind of vindication. Full houses first two nights and a couple of treasurable reviews off Broadway Baby and The Scotsman, both of which I'll take the liberty of posting here....

BROADWAY BABY REVIEW: by Gwen Sims-Williams
Marty Ross drags Edgar Allan Poe into a Glaswegian alley, knifes him in the back and shakes him down for drug money. What falls out is an insanely good piece of storytelling. With nothing but a tracksuit, a drum and a wickedly inventive mind, Ross creates a shocking tale for modern times. Three new versions of Poe’s stories are presented on rotation; I saw a retelling of the Tell-Tale Heart. If the other two are half as gripping, audiences will be in for a treat.
Ross is a master craftsman who never turns down the pressure, painting vile pictures and weaving a grotesque spell over his listeners. He is constantly on the move, thrashing around the aptly-chosen stage in the vaults. Five minutes into ‘Heart-Shaped Hole’ he is already sweating profusely as his character, sick from withdrawal and desperation, climbs thirty-five flights of stairs on a murderous mission. Ross turns one of Poe’s best-known tales into a hard-hitting narrative of drug dealers, paedophiles and Glaswegian tower blocks - whilst, incredibly, never losing the spirit of the original. It feels like genuine Poe resurrected in a violently modern setting. Gone are the Gothic mansions, but all the author’s creepiness and shock value remains.

Despite the many changes necessary to update the tale and extend it to fill the hour, Ross succeeds beyond all expectations in transplanting Poe’s sensibilities to the present. The tone is foul and relentless - Trainspotting meets Gothic horror - yet this, one feels against all better judgement, is exactly how Poe would have written it today. The storytelling is utterly convincing and you are guaranteed to be crushed in the grip of a passionate, unstoppable, spit-spraying narrator. Certain images were so repulsive that people in the front row were noticeably squirming. As we follow the tale’s descent into madness and bloody chaos, even the most outlandish of plot developments seems plausible. Ross’ violently impressive performance make this a heart-pounding triumph which demands appreciation.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Ready for Edinburgh

Well, basically ready for 21st Century Poe's stint at the Edinburgh Fringe, starting next Monday, the 5th down in the old church vault on Merchant Street. I'm also doing four stints performing a sort of 'live trailer' at the upper stage on the Royal Mile on the afternoons of the 4th, 5th, 7th & 10th August, variously between 14.30 and 15.10. A good warm up! Tickets seem to be shifting, thank God and I've been rehearsing like a sonofabitch, even in all this heat. Bought my last prop today (mem to self: remember to check supply of creepy white make-up) and basically itchy to get up there and get down in that vault and start chilling spines. So my schedule will be:
Monday, Thursday, Saturday: FALLING FOR THE USHERS, my radically Glaswegian revamp of The Fall Of The House Of Usher
Tuesday, Friday: HEART SHAPED HOLE, which is basically Poe's Tell Tale Heart meets Trainspotting, set amid Glasgow's down and dirty drugs culture
Wednesday, Sunday: LIGEIA - THIS IS (NOT) A LOVE SONG in which Poe's beautiful revenant is reinvented as an OD'd diva from Glasgow's post punk scene.
I think I'm going to put on a hell of a show. It looks like some people are gonna come. So it's in with a shot at being a good week, there at venue 29.
Edinburgh venue website