Close Encounters, Underbelly Southbank

https://www.londontheatre1.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/BriefsCE-credit-Kate-Pardey700-min.jpg

Theatre can plumb the depths of despair. It can elevate human glory and achievement. It can stir the heart and still the soul. Or it can throw a fabulous party on a rocket ship full of bearded drag queens in sequinned thongs.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Hir, Bush Theatre

https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/HIR-276-2000x1333.jpg

Issac is returning home after a three-year stint as a US marine where his job was to pick up body parts after front line attacks. He longs for the peace and quiet of his nuclear family and the familiarity of middle America so he can make peace with the demons of war. But on opening the door of the house he grew up in, he discovers a revolution has taken place on the home front. After a stroke turned his father into a near vegetable, his mother is avenging years of abuse. His sister Maxine has transitioned to Max. Both mom and Max have rejected social conventions and are living in an anarchic mess of laundry, dishes and socio-political soundbites.

Continue reading

Manwatching, Royal Court

An anonymous woman frankly monologues about taboo sexual fantasies, abortion, orgasms and what turns her on. It’s honest, personal and as a fellow woman, easy to relate to. But rather than a woman performing the text, Funmbi Omotayo is given the script onstage having never read it before. The experiment to explore the effects of a man delivering a woman’s words on female sexuality has good intentions, but it doesn’t work. Most of the content is common female experience, and there is no primary narrative thread. The reading is often clumsy and flat and with little to look at, the piece lacks much of a dynamic.

Continue reading

Romeo and Juliet, Greenwich Theatre

https://theatreweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/JSS_8484.jpg

A self-described modern rep company, Merely Theatre is addressing Shakespeare’s  gender problem with 50/50 casting. Five male/female pairs each learn a set of characters in two plays, then on the night it’s decided who will perform. The result is a focus on clear storytelling rather than unimportant details such as the appearance or gender if individual characters. It’s a great device, and partnered with simple staging and a pace that doesn’t hang about, artistic director Scott Ellis has created a distinctive style of performance honouring the historical aesthetics of travelling players, though there’s a lack of nuance dissatisfying to modern audiences.

Continue reading

Bunny, White Bear Theatre

https://newimages.bwwstatic.com/upload11/1554375/tn-500_bunny-catherinelamb-rehearsalimagesbydashtijahfar_dsc0628.jpg

Katie is a fairly average eighteen-year-old living a life busy with A-levels, uni applications and her older boyfriend, Abe. She’s not sure what she wants to do with the rest of her life, but she’s enjoying the here and now of Luton in the springtime. Her fragmented story by Jack Thorne focuses on one afternoon after school that starts out predictably, but soon spirals out of her comfort zone. The action that unfolds tests Katie’s maturity and independence, but the story is not one that is particularly interesting even with good delivery.

Continue reading

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

harriet-walter-as-king-henry

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.

Continue reading

The Wild Party, The Other Palace

https://i1.wp.com/7210-presscdn-0-59.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Frances-Ruffelle-as-Queenie-and-the-cast-of-The-Wild-Party.-Photo-Credit-Scott-Rylander.jpg

Newly rebranded as The Other Palace and now part of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s empire, the former St Jame’s Theatre aims to focus on new British musical theatre. With Paul Taylor-Mills at the creative helm and two spaces in which to develop and showcase new work from the UK, their debut production is…(drumroll)…an American musical from 2000. An odd choice considering the Broadway production nearly two decades ago left critics unimpressed.

Continue reading