Man-Cub, Etcetera Theatre

By guest critic Laura Dorn

The entrance to the jungle. For some, it is the threshold to freedom, a passageway into adventure, into uncertainty and discovery. 

The keeper of the gates decides who is ready for the adventure, who isn’t, who deserves to proceed, who is sent home. Once inside the jungle, animal instincts take over. Natural selection, survival of the fittest and everyone for themselves become the new guidelines. In the words of Rudyard Kipling: “Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky, and the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.” Abide by the rules and your time in the jungle will be a success, break them and the outcome could be tragic.  

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Bodies, Royal Court

By guest critic Laura Vivio

Expectations are rarely exceeded or even met in critical theatre-going, yet this is certainly one case where they are. What I expected to be an impenetrable piece for anyone who does not have children, or has ever desired to become parent, turned out to be 90 minutes of intense and highly relatable theatre-making. 
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KlangHaus: 800 Breaths, Southbank Centre

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by guest critic Archie Whyld

A dozen or so of us were led to the roof of the Royal Festival Hall where we were told to expect: ‘A multi-sensory encounter of shifting sound, colour and light, which reinvents the gig-going experience as a site-responsive close-up standing performance.’ Whatever that is.

The roof space of the building has a boiler room, pipes and generators claustrophobic submarine feel and we were gently led through it by the actor, performer, musicians The Neutrinos and visual artist Sal Pitman. The guitarist checked his pulse, and then he checked mine, and then he gave me a nod of reassurance.

What was going on? The live music alternated between industrial electronic noise jazz and hypnotic acoustic, haunting lullabies. The projections and colour-scape, provided at points by an old fashioned slide projector, combined with the music and submarine architecture, to create a dreamlike and otherworldly experience. There was no narrative to speak of, other than the mention of breaths – 800 of them. Is this the number of breaths we take in an hour, the length of the performance?

Proceedings culminated with a projection of a cloudscape on the ceiling and the audience being led outside on to the roof of the building to be exposed to the air and the beautiful summer London skies. This is a beautiful moment. Is it theatre, though?

Depends on your definition. Post-dramatic theatre probably, in that there were no discernible characters, nor was there an apparent plot. It favoured feeling and mood rather than action, and in this respect it was hugely successful.

KlangHause: 800 Breaths runs through 23 July.

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Hamlet, Harold Pinter Theatre

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Hamlet may or may not be Shakespeare’s magnum opus, but the Dane is unquestionably one of the greatest roles in the English language. Theatre’s pop star Robert Icke, what with his reputation for hot takes on the classics, no doubt found the play’s allure irresistible. This Hamlet, freshly transferred to the West End from the Almeida, is a slick, beast of a production surpassing three hours. Undeniably contemporary, it does its best to smash the restrictions of the proscenium arch with a celebrity cast and achingly cool, Scandi/corporate design. His casting of Andrew Scott in the title role and subsequent character choices makes this a Hamlet for cool young people on the hunt for profundity, depth of meaning and instagrammable aesthetics.

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