Living A Little, VAULT Festival

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Rob and Paul are best mates, albeit total polar opposites. They share a cozy bachelor pad where they engage in typical mid-20s, male behaviour – drinking, weight lifting, discussing women in graphic detail and fighting off zombies. Well into the zombie apocalypse, the lads lucked out – solar panels and generators keep them in heat and electricity, and they secured their block of flats so the undead can’t get in. But when a masked intruder turns up, their groove is properly disrupted. Dark comedy Living A Little is a post-apocalyptic genre mashup that’s polished and unexpectedly poignant.

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Testament, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Michael Davis

The idea of retelling biblical stories is nothing new. During the infancy of European theatre, the Mystery plays were popular for showing highlights of the Bible. Much later, during the 17th century, John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost would – contrary to author’s intentions – spur an interest in the anti-hero and biblical stories from a revisionist perspective. People over the centuries have questioned aspects of the Bible that they’ve found problematic for various reasons. Directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson, Tristan Bernays’ Testament not only addresses some of the problematic passages, but also give a voice to minor characters in the Bible.

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Carry On Jaywick, VAULT Festival

A couple of miles along the Essex coast from Clacton, is the village of Jaywick. Jaywick has the distinction of being the most deprived area of Britain. Originally a holiday resort, WWII saw an influx of year-round residents. But as years passed, the buildings fell into disrepair, the risk of flooding increased and the area was largely neglected by local and national governments. The community spirit remained high though, with a core group of concerned residents doing their best to make positive change.

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Thought to Flesh, VAULT Festival

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The ice bucket challenge did a lot to raise awareness of Motor Neurone Disease. But how many people who froze their tits off because their mates dared them to actually learnt anything about the condition? Probably not many, so other means of educating about the condition are needed. Supported by the Wellcome Trust, Thought to Flesh creators Nathalie Czarnecki and Gareth Mitchell worked with doctors and researchers to develop a work that shares the human side of MND in an episodic montage following a young woman’s life with MND.

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Hotel Europe, The Green Rooms

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As populism rises and fascists are tightening national borders with physical walls and stricter immigration regulations, the revolution is gaining speed. Protests and rallies are the most prominent forms of activism, but there is a growing movement in DIY and small actions.

Theatre isn’t standing by, either. In five of the bedrooms at the recently opened hotel for artists The Green Rooms, Isley Lynn and Philipp Ehmann have installed binaural radio drama performances telling stories of migration. With each story by a different writer, solo listeners are treated to intimate, personal accounts of characters impacted by migration. Quietly subversive, each story snapshots a changing world and the vulnerable people affected by the right wing’s knee-jerk, xenophobic reaction.

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The Understudy, Canal Cafe Theatre

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by guest critic Jo Trainor

“An actor who needs money? What a unique situation!”

A long lost Kafka play is having its premiere on Broadway. Two big Hollywood action stars are playing the leads, but the fickle nature of unseen Bruce means they’ve had to cast Harry as an understudy. Breaking the fourth wall to speak to the audience, Harry takes us through his first rehearsal with actor Jake and stage manager Roxanne.

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Feature | No, Dominic Cavendish – You Are the Thought Police

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by Dr. Jami Rogers, University of Warwick

Dominic Cavendish can rest assured: he will not lose the opportunity to see his favourite (white) male actors in leading Shakespearean roles. After all, what producer would refuse Kenneth Branagh the chance to play Leontes in The Winter’s Tale or stop inviting Ralph Fiennes to work his way through the classical canon? The star system remains overwhelmingly skewed towards the (white) male and, as such, any (white) male classical actor who fancies it will most likely be first in line for a West End Shakespearean lead. Antony Sher has just played King Lear and Simon Russell Beale showed us his Prospero, to name two more male classical actors who are not exactly short of Shakespearean work. Cavendish’s opinion piece is misguided in its assertion that men are an endangered species on the classical stage – and somewhat light on facts.

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