at the Royal Court Theatre, Thursday 16th May 2013
*Originally written for Exeunt*
There’s something fitting about the fact that Will Adamsdale’s The Victorian in the Wall, a play which considers, amongst other things, property, middle class-values and the past, is the last play Dominic Cooke scheduled to be produced at the Royal Court, programmed jointly with incoming artistic director Vicky Featherstone. It acts like a Clybourne Park in reverse, a Pain and the Itch gone wrong, or a Jerusalem without the anti-hero. And here’s the thing: it’s all the better for it.
For unlike those structured, verbose pieces, Adamsdale’s play (presented in collaboration with Fuel) is imbued with a real sense of play Continue reading
*Originally written for Exeunt*
In the opening moments of David Farr’s production of Hamlet, currently playing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Jonathan Slinger’s Dane takes up position centre stage, ostensibly in the middle of a fencing hall. In his hands he holds a small wooden sword, and as he hears a noise offstage, the first line of the play – ordinarily Barnado’s – is spoken by him: “Who’s there?”
“It’s an old space that relates very strongly to my father,” Slinger tells me as we sit down for a chat before the show, juggling personal pronouns so that he often speaks for his character, “so it’s a very emotional space for me”. Continue reading
at Shakespeare’s Globe, Friday 10th May 2013
With the two productions of As You Like It I’ve seen in the last few weeks being among the best Shakespearean performances I’ve come across in my short life, the play is very quickly becoming my favourite in the Bard’s canon. Both Maria Aberg’s Glastonbury-style show at the RSC and the Marjanishvili Theatre’s take on the play end in anarchic, messy, blissfully joyous finales which bring smiles when remembering them, encapsulating the capacity for hope within the play itself.
Hailing from Georgia on a triumphant return after the Globe to Globe season last year, one of the most striking things about the Marjanishvili Theatre’s production is its sheer sense of delight. Continue reading
at Warwick Arts Centre, Tuesday 8th May 2013
Around a third of the way through Caroline Horton’s Mess, I realised I’d seen the show during a Triggered scratch night at Warwick Arts Centre last year. The form, tone and set-up had felt familiar since the show started, but I just put that down to both seeing Horton’s You’re Not Like the Other Girl Chrissy two years back and the style just being, well, familiar. Then, however, it clicked, as I figured out that I had seen it before, albeit in a more basic form. Instantly, I remembered loving it back in early 2012. Which perhaps goes some way to explaining why I couldn’t bring myself to love it this time.
Similarly, I’d heard a lot of talk about Mess at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Continue reading
at Warwick Arts Centre, Saturday 4th May 2013
I see theatre which actually teaches me something less frequently than I’d like. Sue MacLaine’s Still Life, however, managed to do so this weekend, taking me through two personal revelations.
Revelation No. 1: I Can’t Draw
Having entered Warwick Arts Centre’s Mead Gallery and positioned the drawing board, paper and pencils I’d been given, a feeling of dread snuck in. I remembered those horrible afternoons at school when, hour after hour, I failed to use the simple tools of a pencil and a pad to render anything remotely life-like. But a small part of me believed that, with the passage of time, I had become a better artist without knowing it. Then, as MacLaine (previously sat in a robe, smiling at us as we entered) bared all and took her first pose, my hopes were dashed. Attempting to create something vaguely artistic, I ended up drawing what looks like a bad Picasso parody (apologies for the quality of the photo). Continue reading
at the Barbican, Wednesday 1st May 2013
It’s easy to suggest that Fraulein Julie should be called Kristin. Katie Mitchell and Leo Warner’s production, which places a film set on stage, focusses around the secondary character of Strindberg’s original, as the cameras follow her around watching said cook partake in and overhear the events of the play. But it’s wrong to suggest a change in title; this is still Miss Julie’s story and the main events still happen to her. Though we are watching Kristin’s reactions, it is in response to Julie’s narrative, meaning that the ‘objective’ eye of the original play is shifted. In doing so, then, Mitchell and Warner open up the play whilst examining it in great detail, creating along the way a mesmerising, haunting piece of theatre.
Originally seen at the Shaubühne in Berlin in 2010, Alex Eales’ set here spans the width of the Barbican stage, Continue reading
at the Lyttelton Theatre, Wednesday 1st May 2013
God I love theatre. About halfway through today’s performance of Children of the Sun, the show had to be stopped due to an audience member being taken ill. Now obviously, that in itself isn’t a good thing and I wish him a speedy recovery, but the instance added a certain frisson to the rest of the performance. Until that point, it felt a little bit like the actors were going through the motions, and to be perfectly honest I wasn’t really paying attention. As soon as the stage manager entered, however, a charge became apparent, and after a short five minute break the actors returned, this time with a punch. We were back on track.
Something about seeing the actors forced to break character means we consider more intently the artistry behind their performance, Continue reading