Tag Archives: Home

Interview: Alex Waldmann

*Originally written for Exeunt*

Three months ago, when I last chatted to Alex Waldmann, the actor was looking forward to starting a run of All’s Well That Ends Well alongside Hamlet and As You Like It in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford, safe in the knowledge that he would be in employment for the near future. Once the company finishes its run in Newcastle in November, however, Waldmann will be joining the hordes of unemployed theatre professionals once again. That’s not to say he won’t be busy, however; a few years ago, he and his wife Amelia Sears set-up SEArED to produce “new writing and neglected classics” (though they “didn’t really know what that meant at the time”), which has in the past taken shows to Edinburgh and produced Dennis Potter’s Brimstone and Treacle with Homeland star Rupert Friend. This month they open with a revival of David Storey’s Home at the Arcola Theatre.

They chose the play, Waldmann tells me, because “we were fascinated to see if in our desensitised, violence-exposed, media world it would still be shocking. Continue reading Interview: Alex Waldmann

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“Home”

at The Shed, Tuesday 27th August 2013

*Originally written for Exeunt*

Walking through the double doors to The Shed, our perspective is instantly shifted. Rather than being greeted with the usual blank wall, a window and door gives us a view into the auditorium itself, whilst a sign on the Shed’s dressing room reads “IT Department”. Ruth Sutcliffe’s design places us inside the walls of Target East, a high rise hostel for the young and homeless, complete with posters and leaflets. Like Nadia Fall’s verbatim-led production, the lines between theatre and reality are blurred so that we may question the actions of governments past and present who haven’t done enough to help the tens of thousands who don’t get the lives they deserve. Home is a fiercely moving indictment of our collective treatment of young people, but also asks probing questions about the nature of belonging.

The two-hours of text here have been edited from over thirty hours of interviews, meaning that we only get a select group of stories Continue reading “Home”

“Uninvited”

at Bedlam Theatre, Saturday 18th August 2012

*Written for http://www.stagewon.co.uk. Published here: http://stagewon.co.uk/news/view/edinburgh-uninvited-review-august2012/*

Having followed the work of Fat Git Theatre since their inception, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the company and their work. At first, they seemed to be offering absurdity and madness in a disjointed world as a way of offering a respite from our hectic everyday lives. As time has worn on, however, it’s become clear to me that it’s not that simple; by incorporating grotesque performance style with narratives which are played out fairly conventionally, Josh Roche and his company are doing something pretty radical, presenting complex ideas accessibly.

Uninvited (which, for the record, I first saw during its preview stage in June), is adapted from a novella by Peter Mortimer and sees a man (called Me) have his life torn apart by the unexpected arrival of a stranger in his house (Him). That’s basically it, but through the use of humour and the implementation of Bouffons, Roche manages to make the story utterly compelling for the full hour.

The production is performed in a way which makes the strange familiar and the familiar strange, as the stranger is the most normal person in the play, and the Bouffons, in the shape of moving wallpaper, are truly disconcerting, eyeballing us in a way which is both terrifying and hilarious. The absurdism of the narrative is heightened by this performance style, which forces us to think about the characters and their situations carefully rather than just sit back and enjoy. It necessitates cognition.

In the process of these thoughts, it comes to light that Uninvited is a careful look at the concept of property and the importance placed on privacy in the twenty-first century. We hide behind our beige curtains, unwilling to communicate, as a result of being told for years that our home is our castle (“what’s a man without his mortgage?” questions a Bouffon, acting as conscience of both protagonist and audience). The suggestion is that, if we live like this in our closeted homes, only tragedy can follow.

This careful portrait of home life, set in “a modern, somewhat arboreal suburb”, is achieved through a gloriously imagined design by Rosie Bristow, like the world viewed in a hall of mirrors. The man’s clean, ordered house is slowly peppered with crumbs and drops, only small intrusions, but enough to demonstrate that return to ‘normality’ is impossible.

As when I first saw the piece in June, I’m still dubious about the somewhat nihilist and arbitrary ending, and I’m not sure the scenes with the Madeira Cake Lady (charmingly played by Amy Tobias) or the Window Cleaner (a calmly indignant Tom Dale) add much to the plot or the point, but they are nonetheless extremely well executed. These moments are also innovatively supported by Matthew Wells’ soundtrack, which uses found objects to create music which alarms and delights.

Roche extracts universally strong performances from his cast. Josh Goulding and Joe Boylan create good opposition as Me and Him; the former talks a lot and is constantly flustered, while the latter is mostly silent and still. It is Edward Davis, Emma Jane Denly and Kate Pearse as the Bouffons who steal the show, however, with witty improvisation and hugely watchable facial contortion.

Uninvited is by no means perfect, and I’m sure the company still have their best work to come, but it is a wonderfully absurd piece of tragicomedy which asks questions about the public and private self, and the way in which we view our home. Featuring some high-end performances and smart writing, it proves that, no matter what, Fat Git theatre will go on to do great things.