Tag Archives: The Shed

Interview: Ben Power

*Originally written for Exeunt*

The access to the Stage Door of the National Theatre from the riverfront is currently blocked, meaning that in order to enter you have to walk around the entire building, much of which is a literal building site. You make your way past colourful panels and promises of a bigger, brighter ‘NT Future’ before finally arriving at the east side of Denys Lasdun’s monolith. The National is now in its final stage of development works, and talking to Ben Power about his adaptation of Medea which has just opened in the Olivier, it strikes me that alongside this aesthetic overhaul, the building is also undergoing a somewhat less visible but just as radical shift in its programming.

“The thing that I think is fantastic,” Power enthuses as we watch over a glorious summer day on the Southbank from a fifth-floor window, “has been the emergence in the last three or four years of a generation of directors who can direct big plays on these stages.” Continue reading Interview: Ben Power

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On Midsummer Mischief, Part Three – Places Other

*Published on Exeunt*

I miss The Other Place.

Now, that’s a strange thing to say considering I have never actually set foot in any building called The Other Place, in Stratford or otherwise. But, like everyone who has any sort of connection with the RSC, its presence has always been keenly felt during my years visiting the company.

First, a bit of history. Continue reading On Midsummer Mischief, Part Three – Places Other

“Blurred Lines”

created by Nick Payne and Carrie Cracknell

at The Shed, Monday 27th January 2014

*The show features some mainstream songs which are all questionable in their representations of women. As a kind of counterbalance to this, I’ve popped in a few alternative tracks*

-Also, spoilers-

Blurred Lines begins and ends with a look at the ‘industry’ of which it is a part. At the top of the show, the cast of eight women recite a list of casting breakdowns which all boil down to stereotypes. The tone and repetition is borderline ritualistic, as if this stuff is so ingrained and accepted that the types can be summoned at will, like a seance for female character clichés. In a riotously funny coda at the other end of the show, the world of theatre itself is shown to be just as much a part of the problem as anything else. Continue reading “Blurred Lines”

“Protest Song” by Tim Price

at The Shed, Thursday 19th December 2013

*Originally written for Exeunt*

At around the forty minute mark of Protest Song, you get a strange sensation that here, tonight, anything could happen. As two hundred people chant “Boris Johnson is a massive cunt” and sing along to a radical revision of the Twelve Days of Christmas, there’s an odd feeling of anarchy and potential as we, led by Rhys Ifans’ Danny, feel like the play might persuade us to march onto the streets. The sense of spontaneity created by Ifans’ interactions with the audience gives you that bubbling sensation of hope in the pit of your stomach. By the end of the seventy minutes, however, that glorious emotion is smashed against the wall like Merle Hensel’s design, broken and devastated.

Tim Price’s monologue charts how Danny – a rough sleeper with a self-professed alcohol problem in the Square Mile – became politicised during the Occupy movement in late 2011. Continue reading “Protest Song” by Tim Price

“The World of Extreme Happiness” by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig

at The Shed, Monday 30th September 2013

*Originally written for Exeunt*

The fact Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s The World of Extreme Happiness comes so soon after Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica is no coincidence; the growing economic power of China has forced a shift in the way those of us in the West frame our politico-cultural experience, with our complicity in its morally questionable material output becoming a debate we must collectively tackle. But though Michael Longhurst’s startling and audaciously jarring production deepens the play’s self-awareness whilst commenting on China’s contemporary situation, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that the text itself never really got to the root of the problem, interrogating the symptoms of hyper-capitalism rather than the rotten system itself.

Within the first ten minutes of the piece, Cowhig sets up a tension between rural and urban space as we see Sunny (Katie Leung) born Continue reading “The World of Extreme Happiness” by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig

“RIOT”

at The Shed, Thursday 20th September 2013

The year is 2005, Tom Brennan’s narrator tells us at the top of The Wardrobe Ensemble’s energetic RIOT. There’s a whiff of T.S. Eliot to the suggestion that 2005 is one of those “in-between years”, neither recent enough to be topical nor long enough ago to be the “good old days”. It’s both foreign (employment was at an all-time high and YouTube had only just uploaded its first video) and familiar (Harry Potter seems to have a particular tendency to grab headlines in any given year).  But there was an event in Edmonton, at the opening of the largest IKEA in the UK at the time, which most of us have forgotten.  Continue reading “RIOT”

“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”