Theatre Review: Psycho Live @ Royal Scottish National Orchestra

There are very few films that create the kind of legacy that Psycho holds. It is a cinematic masterpiece of tension and intrigue, one that has survived the test of time and continues to terrify audiences across the world. When the RSNO (Royal Scottish National Orchestra) decided to assemble a 50-piece string orchestra and produce the score live at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, it was always due to be the perfect way to spend a dark October midweek evening.

As the lights go dim and the projection starts, it quickly becomes clear that having an orchestra play the original score by Bernard Herrmann is nothing short of a masterstroke. The tension that the live performance is able to create leads to a rare experience where Hitchcock’s ability to create intense atmosphere is brought to life in a way that is beyond imaginable.

The score is too vast to cover in full but there is one particular scene that stands out. The famous car scene in which Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) has fled her work with $40,000 to start a new life with her lover. As she drives away, unbeknownst to the horrors that await her, the score intensifies and the orchestra hits full flow. What really stands out is the RSNO’s awareness of the magnitude of Psycho, as it brings the film to life.

It is easy to take for granted musical scores when it comes to cinema, often overlooked in favour of cinematography. The RSNO have a beautiful idea in bringing films to life through music, it forces the audience to appreciate the soundtrack, bringing the chosen cult cinema classics to an astonishing level. This is a testament to the RSNO, their concerts bring cinematic perfection from the screen and into reality.

Viewing classic cinema with the RSNO could not be more satisfying. As I left the concert hall, I walked along Buchanan Street, checking windows for silhouettes of Mrs. Bates as I tried to erase the haunting shriek of the violins from my memory. Psycho contains the soundtrack to our nightmares and as a result, Psycho: Live is event cinema at its best.

By John-Anthony Disotto