The Cardinal, Southwark Playhouse

https://newimages.bwwstatic.com/upload11/1593369/tn-500_rosiewyattandnataliesimpsonandsophiacarr-gomm.jpg

Within 50 years of Shakespeare’s death, playwriting was changing quickly. Less flowery language and more powerful female characters are prominent in James Shirley’s rarely-staged The Cardinal, written in 1641. The plot is more streamlined, but some of the outdoor playhouse performance conventions linger along with the grandness of the king’s court. The story proudly flaunts influence from earlier revenge tragedies and is no less bloody, but easier to follow than some of those on stage a few decades or so earlier. In Southwark Playhouse’s smaller space with historical costumes, Justin Audibert’s production evokes the intimate atmosphere of indoor playhouses that were beginning to take over towards the end of Shakespeare’s career.

Continue reading

Disconnect, Ugly Duck

https://entropymag.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/outer-space-wallpaper-pictures.jpg

Imagine a production of Waiting for Godot with more characters, set in space, where the audience chooses the outcome of the story. What you are picturing is probably gloriously weird and kitschy. But now add clumsy dialogue, some poor performances and a loosely applied Brexit analogy, performed on a set that looks like it’s built of cardboard and/or they ran out of paint. If your mind’s eye makes a different picture now, it be more accurate.

Continue reading

Dominoes, Tara Theatre

https://i2.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/133/360046773_f06607e09c_o.jpg

There’s a database where you can look up the size of reparations paid to slave owners after slavery was abolished. In Dominoes, History teacher Leila and her fiancé Andy share the same last name – McKinnon. Andy’s white and Scottish, Leila’s half black-Caribbean. When curiosity gets the better of her in the run up to their half term wedding, she makes a discovery that pits family and friends against each other and threatens to destroy her big day.

Continue reading

Room, Theatre Royal Stratford East

https://cdn.thestage.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/11091735/Harrison-Wilding-and-Witney-White-Room-Scott-Rylander-1-700x455.jpg

Originally a novel by Emma Donoghue that swept up the award nominations last year after being made into a film, Room is now a play. Adapted by the writer for the stage, it stays true to the original story of a young woman abducted at 19 and imprisoned as a sex slave. After two years in captivity she gives birth to her son Jack. Five years later as they celebrate his fifth birthday, all Jack has ever known is the inside of the shed. To ensure he copes, Ma’s taught him that the only things that are real are what’s inside the room. Everything outside isn’t real, and the pictures on their telly exist only in the small box. But Ma’s had enough and wants Jack to help them escape now that he’s big enough.

Continue reading

Identity Crisis, Ovalhouse

https://i1.wp.com/thenubiantimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Identity-crisis-image.png

Phina Oruche has had an extraordinary career. Growing up in Liverpool to Nigerian parents and desperately wanting to see more of the world, she let her best friend Amy talk her into doing a modelling photoshoot as a teenager. Soon she found herself living and working in London, then New York and LA. Eventually tiring of the high fashion world and feeling the pull of her home, she moved back to the UK where he career led her firmly into the film and telly world. Now a mum and conflicted about the cultural pushing and pulling on her life, she examines who she really is the self-penned Identity Crisis. The punchy tapestry of characters and experiences has messy and confusing moments and no clear resolution or story, but it’s brimming with heart and life.

Continue reading

Care, Courtyard Theatre

UFKmRtsrO3wmuDLSNSiFJK-uKmbAFnUYhZURRl1jh18

by guest critic Harry McDonald

Time passes and we pass with it, but how do you measure getting older? Do you read wrinkles or responsibilities? Or did you never learn to read?

The Courtyard’s revival of Roy Mitchell’s Care, last produced in 1983 at the Royal Court Upstairs and now presented by the Angus McKay Foundation, interrogates a fraught young couple living in Birmingham in the 1970s. Childlike in their domestic play – bouncing between football, music,  comic books and sex – each lover attempts to survive the other’s presence over a long Easter weekend. And yet there is a third person present. Don’t children always make the scariest ghosts?

Continue reading

The Magic Flute, King’s Head Theatre

xJLPebQ13Jc8t_ne-xRumaGL7DpfVAezCNIoksCglMQ,a9KGv6pxMyzfSwSsP_UQZCLC5oGdOdndfDz0R3BAw1E,m8igHUlEf8qrF9QpfbGhEVDOqYeNMwTbHjYrukWgNIo

by guest critic Alistair Wilkinson

The King’s Head Theatre has been turned into a South American jungle, and we are invited to go along with the intrigued explorer Tamino, as he embarks on his journey to discover a world full of magical beings. In this world, and actually this performance too, nothing is what is expected.

Continue reading