Posts Tagged ‘new writing’

The Princess Monologues, at The Bread & Roses Theatre

| Reviews You Can Read In One Minute

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Once upon a time, a plucky theatre lover travelled to the magical kingdom of Clapham in search of a top night out…

4345308_origAs soon as I heard about The Princess Monologues my mind immediately turned to the many articles, memes, and quotes deploring Disney princesses as bad role models for little girls, as good role models for little girls, arguments against buying pink toys for young girls, the story of the little boy who goes to nursery dressed as a princess, how princess is a compliment, how it’s a slur, colour, gender, identity. When did princess become such a loaded word?

Director Tessa Hart has seized on the multiple nuances ‘princess’ holds and commissioned a brilliant, blisteringly funny, sometime sad, twisty, twisted, and very prescient collection of monologues. A fantastically engaging sprint of an hour long show you’ll laugh, possibly cry, and certainly think on once the glitter has settled and you’ve left the theatre.

Eleanor Dillon-Reams is a revelatory tour de force, moving seamlessly on stage and in front3902158 of the audience, between the six characters of the six monologues written by the diverse and talented Tilly Lunken, Tina Jay, Claire Booker, Simon Jay, Amy Bethan Evans, Tessa Hart, and Eliza Power. Dillon-Reams’ accent, tone, posture and entire body shifted so fully to inhabit each character it was as if they were there: six different people. A staggering performance, she’s certainly a talent to watch.

Simon Jay’s Home Made Princess squeezed my heart tight with it’s incredible switch. Dillon-Reams expertly making the most of the emotive subject, and causing this audience member to have to blink away tears. Claire Booker’s Princess Frankenstein is a darkly, comic gem: one of the funniest things I’ve seen this year. And Eliza Power’s #Shame, sharp as a knife, effortlessly cuts through multiple meanings and associations of the word princess, of words and names themselves, pulling together Disney, Kim Kardashian, and a depressingly familiar situation too many women find themselves in, in a final punch I didn’t see coming.

The Princess Monologues are strong, tight, multifarious and gleeful inspections of what ‘princess’ means in 2015. This show deserves to go far. I wouldn’t be surprised if it transfers. Catch it if you can. You’ll live happily ever after.

The Princess Monolgues is on at The Bread & Roses Theatre in Clapham until Sunday 22nd November at 7.30pm. And at the The Space on the Isle of Dogs on Sunday 6th December at 6pm.

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Positive at Park Theatre, by Shaun Kitchener

| Reviews You Can Read In One Minute

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Positive tells the story of Benji, a gay Londoner looking to revive his love, sex and social lives one year after testing HIV+. But if Benji’s mantra – If Britney can get through 2007, then I can get through today – doesn’t give you the heads up let me make it clear: this is not a moral depress-fest, but a hilarious nuanced comedy of modern manners. As the writer Kitchener states in the programme introduction: ‘nobody dies’. At one point I laughed so hard my theatre companion had to restrain me from keeling over into Marcio Andrey Santarosa’s clever dual reference giant round pill and plus sign stage, upon which the action is delivered. From the ground up this is a polished, satisfying story: Kitchener expertly teasing at first hilarity and then real emotional depth and punch from his subject matter.pTimothy George’s ‘Benji’ and Sally George’s overbearing mother ‘Margo’ (yes, they are mother and son in real life) give stunning performances, managing to move from an amusing confrontation to genuine tenderness in a devastating second. Yet again I found myself being steadied by my friend, as I attempted and failed to fight back tears. And it is here in the meat of the play that Kitchener’s work really comes into it’s own: this is not a story about HIV, but about life and how we choose to live it. About love and how we choose to give it. Director Harry Burton must be congratulated for bringing the best from his cast, never allowing laughs or sentimentality to get in the way of the real power of the piece.

A special mention for Claire Greenaway’s Health Physician Jennifer, who was the perfect picture of professionalism, concern and genuine care I recognise from my own consultants and carers I see as part of my chronic health condition. Yet again Kitchener’s script shuns the saccharine or obvious, and instead delivers a slice of reality in what is a tightly structured and deftly delivered play. I positively suggest you go and see it.

Positive is on at Park Theatre until the 1st August 2015.

 

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Presenting Chugging for Kittens – a New Short for Briefs, 29th April at Waterloo East Theatre

| Playwriting

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I’m thrilled to announce I’ve written a new short play which will be part of the amazing West Avenue’s seasonal scratch night: Briefs.

Chugging for Kittens is about good intentions, charity, and sexual gratification!

The short will be part of the Briefs Spring show on the 29th April at the Waterloo East Theatre. It promises to be a fast and fun night. Advance tickets are £10 and can be purchased here.

I’ll see you in the bar after. x

 

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Lampedusa, by Anders Lustgarten at the Soho Theatre

| Reviews You Can Read In One Minute

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Writer Anders Lustgarten’s biography in the front of the Lampedusa programme and text describes him as a ‘political activist who’s been arrested in four continents’. It should come as no surprise then that Lampedusa – named after the Italian island that marks the southern most point of Europe, and the primary entry point for migrants – is a play that tackles immigration and welfare. Slipping between the words of Stefano, an Italian lifeguard who fishes the bodies of hundreds of drowned migrants from the sea, and those of Denise, a payday lender collector in Leeds. Ferdy Roberts and Louise Mai Newberry give captivating performances in the lead roles in the intimate stripped setting of Soho Upstairs.

Lustgarten’s play is delivered in the timeless tradition of storytelling, the character’s lustgartenmonologues echoing the no doubt countless tales that have travelled round the world and through history to tie us each to our past and our homelands. There’s a touch of humour, heartbreak, and horror here as Stefano and Denise reel you into their lives. The world shrinking to the mesmeric single swaying bulb on the stage, as the language and the performance transport you to the climax of the story. At first I failed to see the link between the two lead characters, and their journey of finding hope in unexpected places, but now I believe the connection is the invisible thread that ties all of humanity together. An absorbingplay that questions how an apparently civilised continent got to this point. How we got to this point.

Lampedusa by Anders Lustgarten is on at the Soho Theatre until 26th April 2015.

n.b. The seating for this performance is benches without backs, but if you need support you can find a small number of lighting pillars that run vertical to the back row. Using my neck pillow I was able to lean against one of these pillars for the duration of the performance. There is a lift up to the studio.

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Behind the scenes film of debut play: The Legacy

| Playwriting

Below is a behind the scenes film of my debut play, The Legacy.

Rehearsed readings were staged at Tristan Bates Theatre, Covent Garden in December 2014. The Legacy starred Claira Watson Parr, Lucinda Westcar, and Ray Bullock Jr. And was directed by Michael Beigel.

The Legacy team plan to develop the play and stage two further runs in London in the next one to two years. We’re currently accepting applications for producers, so do get in touch if you have further questions or would like to apply.

With thanks to the talented Michelle Becker for the incredible film.

 

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What’s it like writing a play? Rehearsal time!

| Playwriting

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When opportunity knocks, fling the door wide open, kiss it on both cheeks and invite it in for a drink or two. Or three. So: I wrote a play.

I had an idea. A conflict. A detonating moment. Like writing a book, or telling a joke in the pub – the currency of storytelling is accepted across the globe. Across all mediums. And to a point that’s true. And then you have to think of who the audience will be. Where the audience will be. Reading a book in bed? Sitting in a cinema? On a night out with friends at the theatre? And then you have to learn.

I took a playwriting course at speed and under the influence of coffee and fear. Fear is a great motivator. And then I had it. This play. This one act. This story about three people and a mattress. And that’s where it got interesting.

Listening, with the director, to an initial read by the actors was both terrifying and electrifying. Would they like it? Would they hate it? Would they write everything off as a pile of crap?

They laughed.

In the right places. I exhaled. I hadn’t realised I was holding my breath. Then they laughed so hard I worried I’d really screwed up. Done something so stupid they couldn’t stop giggling. Something ridiculous, like using the wrong punctuation to indicate a pause. Well, actually, I had done that. But they said they weren’t chuckling at that. Hopefully they weren’t ‘acting’ about the whole ellipses thing…

I was welcomed to the rehearsals by my director. It’s an incredible thing to see the words you’ve written brought to life. To see a section played one way and then the same section played another way was mind-blowing. I didn’t know you could do that to words: to make them sing, and laugh, and cry. To build into them a resonance, a significance, a history that was far beyond my one imagined scene.

I’ve always thought acting was a physically challenging career, but I have a new understanding now of what it takes. What they give. And right there with them, breathing every breath, feeling every emotion, is the director who somehow manages to know both where they’ve come from and where they’re going to. It’s close to magic. And you feel it: the raw emotion. I know those words, I know what they’re going to say, but it doesn’t matter: each time is like a punch.

And I promise tomorrow I won’t dash across set and hug one of the characters to comfort them. They don’t like it when you do that. 

 

 

You can find out more about my debut play The Legacy, including how to attend rehearsed readings on the 16th & 17th December at the Tristan Bates Theatre, WC1 here.

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