Double Trouble, Intermission Youth Theatre

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DN4EhaLX4AEM9j7.jpg

It can be tough to get kids to engage with Shakespeare. Many of them see the foreign-sounding language and old-fashioned stories as irrelevant to the issues they battle as growing up today. Fortunately, Intermission Youth Theatre artistic director Darren Raymond focuses on exploring contemporary themes in Shakespeare’s work with the 16-25s that make up the theatre company and convinces them to love the Bard.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Instructions for Border Crossing, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

https://i0.wp.com/www.thereviewshub.com/wp-content/uploads/daniel-bye-edinburgh-fringe.png?fit=737%2C466

Human instinct to categorise and label everything and everyone extends to drawing boundaries and borders around bits of land, dividing the world up into distinct nations with names and cultural features. They’re arbitrary really, and Daniel Bye channels obscure, near-mythical performance artist Edward Shorter to challenge them.

Continue reading

Odd Man Out, Hope Theatre

https://i0.wp.com/mytheatremates.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/OddManOut_2guys_jul17.jpg?fit=648%2C404

A middle-aged, gay Welshman contemplates the English class he teaches in Hong Kong. Amongst the students is Windy, the Chinese woman with whom he shares his bed. Utterly smitten with her, he refers to her as his Pocahontas. He then kisses a barbie doll with long black hair and tanned skin.

Pocahontas was a Native American woman kidnapped by the colonising English in the 1600s, forced to marry, then taken to Britain. The same woman bore her husband a child then died, aged 21, after contracting a European illness.

Continue reading

My Country; a work in progress, Theatre Royal Stratford East

https://cdn.thestage.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/10165417/My-Country-Dorfman-51.jpg

After 52% of 72% of the British voting population voted to leave the EU, Rufus Norris’s concern that London theatre was out of touch with the majority of British people drove him to launch a nationwide project of listening. He sent a team of ‘gatherers’ to all corners of these sceptered isles, and they collected 70 interviews from people up and down the country. The transcriptions combined with text by Carol Ann Duffy gave birth to My Country; a work in progress.

Continue reading

Hotel Europe, The Green Rooms

https://cdn.thestage.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Building-exterior-LOW-RES-700x455.png

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.

Continue reading

Remember to Breathe, Equations for a Moving Body, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

https://s3.amazonaws.com/wos-photos-production/107110.jpg

Two women, in two different shows set on opposite sides of the world, swim as if their lives depend on it. One is training for an ironman-length triathlon, the other never learnt to swim and is doing so to overcome a fear of water. Equations for a Moving Body is Hannah Nicklin’s solo performance telling the story of her decision to complete an ironman and the research she did to discover what would happen to her body as she trains. Remember to Breathe follows fictional Maeve away from the safety of family and a secure job in Ireland, to world travels that eventually find her in New Zealand. Though Hannah and Maeve approach swimming completely differently, the sport shapes who they are and how they deal with obstacles that come their way.

Maeve and her kiwi husband Grant are back in Ireland when the Christchurch earthquake hits. The Celtic Tiger has been and gone, and their business is struggling so they decide to head to the southern hemisphere to help rebuild. It’s here that Maeve discovers a pool in the wreckage, staffed by the relentlessly perky Doreen. In that pool, Maeve gently catalogues her life through her relationship to her father. He and Doreen fade in and out again like memories in this quiet, reflective piece on family and finding your place in the world.

Liz Fitzgibbon as Maeve has a calm strength and enigmatic presence. This everywoman of a character with relatable struggles trying to find peace is a reassuring story to witness, though the lack of outright conflict between characters makes for a sleepy pace.

Julie Sharkey as Doreen and David Heap has Maeve’s earthy, grounded father are great foils constructed by writer Orla Murphy. As well as Maeve’s personal journey that she comes to terms with through swimming, there’s a pointed throughline of the effects of the economy on the common man – a clever inclusion making the script universally relevant.

Maeve swims and came to it in her adult life, but Hannah is a swimmer and has been doing so since she was four. Hannah explains the difference between “I swim” and “I’m a swimmer” and the role goals and life events have in shaping one’s identity. Her decision to complete an ironman in the year she turned 30 becomes a part of who she is and how she lives her life, and Equations for a Moving Body is the moving story of the ups and downs of pushing your body to its limits.

The most engaging focus of Hannah’s story is the people she meets along her training journey. She has a gift for making John, Tom and the various scientists she meets along the way come alive, even if they only feature for brief moments. These encounters provide landmarks that make her story stand out from anyone else’s and excellent focal points of her narrative structure.

The story’s climax is the triathlon, with peaks and troughs that are magnified versions of those in her training. It’s a hugely satisfying and emotional end to a story of struggle, grief and triumph. Those who aren’t much for sport or fitness who find her initial goal baffling are on side at by the finish line.

Nicklin uses live internet use to support her story and add a visual element to the production. Though simple, it’s a great choice. These are almost all accompanied by her narrative, though one section is poignant in its silence and elucidates the source of the show’s name.

Hannah cements her sense of self through her training and its end goal, and Maeve finally finds the peace she is searching for. Both productions are lovely, if very different stories of personal discovery at Summerhall.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.