Guide to theatre in Glasgow

From drama to cabaret to circus to Shakespeare and beyond across the city

Glasgow is an exciting, vibrant city with theatre woven into its seams. A huge student population means that there are many welcome distractions for young people looking for momentary respite from writing up a thesis, last minute cramming or hitting the library. Here are just a few examples of what Glasgow has to offer throughout the term year.

The Panopticon at Britannia Music Hall is the oldest surviving music hall, but it's by no means a dusty old institution. For example, Mischief La-Bas recently staged their shenanigans Nursery Crymes there. During the warmer nights, the burlesque, variety and drag nights provide sauce and sass. And their adult pantomimes are nothing short of pure anarchy...

Gordon Barr's Bard In The Botanics brings a new spin on all things Shakespearean or Marlowe-related – for as long as the weather is good, anyway. Nicole Cooper, Andy Clark, Darren Brownlie and Esme Bayley have all dazzled audiences in the open air with beautiful and original performances. Stuffy it is not: think Leonardo and Claire in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, rather than braying, tortured men in ruffs.

For those seeking more left field, edgy work, mini festival Buzzcut remains a cheekily subversive proposition. Usually found at the Pearce Institute, the lovely Karl Taylor curates some of the most daring live art around. Louise Orwin, FK Alexander and Sh!t Theatre are just some of the brilliant performance artists who have brought a bold and provocative aesthetic to the Govan setting.

A more sedate kind of theatre is made all year round by the celebrated A Play, A Pie and A Pint, the lunchtime theatre show formed in 2004. It's steadily attracting younger theatre goers of late, thanks to work by younger writers such as the wonderful Morna Young, whose Aye, Elvis just smashed the Edinburgh Fringe; Taqi Nazeer who brought us Rishta, an Asian wedding comedy; or Blood Of The Young's Meghan Tyler. Her superb recent play The Persians was an exercise in wilfully bad behaviour – there can be no finer endorsement.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland hosts lively performances by students. The months of September through to January are buzzing. Last year, no less a legend than director/writer Johnny McKnight presided over an an uproarious adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

In the middle of summer, Surge's festival takes to the streets of Glasgow, transforming places we walk past every day into colourful and vibrant scenes. There's everything from circus to dance to puppetry – and difficult to categorise strangeness everywhere – proving site-specific work doesn't just belong to the Edinburgh Fringe.

And finally, for kitty kats' and sewer rats – or simply those with a love of vintage threads and lethal looking cocktails – Riding Room hosts many oh so naughty cabaret nights. Known to shake a tail feather or two, there are burlesque babies Molly Teaser and Tom Harlow, American badass Sabrina Chap, and the irrepressible Markee De Saw – all have been known to work their thing of an evening.

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