Posts Tagged ‘Theatre’

The Princess Monologues, at The Bread & Roses Theatre

| Reviews You Can Read In One Minute

IMG_4474

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.

0 comment

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Top Picks 2015

| Reviews You Can Read In One Minute

 

ed festEdinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world. With 47,497 performances last year and more this August spread across this beautiful city it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to see. I can’t say I’ve seen everything (surely no one can?), but here are my suggestions of great shows to catch before the 31st:


Anna Morris: It’s Got To Be Perfect


Comedy

Anna Morris brings her YouTube viral sensation, the acerbic comic creation Georgina the Bride to this triumph of a show. With her increasingly heightened demands and expectations of her perfect day, this Bridezilla’s hilarious show has got to be perfect for hen dos, stag dos, those who are engaged, married, or anyone who has ever been to a wedding. Not to be missed.

★★★★★

The Voodoo Rooms, August 8 – 17, 19 – 30, 3.55pm FREE


An Audience With Jimmy Saville


Theatre

jim

Alastair McGowan delivers an incredible performance as Jimmy Saville, with not only an eerie mimic of the known TV personality, but a spot on portrayal of the emotions within this monster of a man. The subject matter is understandably uncomfortable at times, as well as frightfully enlightening – did you know Saville had been questioned as a possible suspect during the police hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper? A great, if unsettling, must see play.

★★★★

This performance is suitable for those who are 16+.
Assembly George Square Theatre, August 11 – 22, 7.55pm £16.00


Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel


Comedy

austentatious-2015

Confession time: I’ve seen Austentatious four times. And each time the quick-witted troupe deliver a side-splittingly funny performance, based on an audience suggested Jane Austen style title. Worth going back again and again, these guys never disappoint.

★★★★★
Underbelly George Square, August 6-17, 19-31, 1.15pm £12.50

 


Marny Godden: Flap ’em On The Gate


Comedy

marny

With her host of surreal characters Marny Godden’s Flap ’em On The Gate is an uproariously bonkers show that had me crying with laughter. A true clowning talent, Godden is one of those gifted performers who can make you laugh just by raising an eyebrow. If you like The Mighty Boosh you’ll love this.

★★★★
Underbelly Cowgate, August 6-7, 19-30, 5.20pm £10.00

 


4×4 Ephemeral Architectures


Dance, physical theatre and circus

jugglers

One of the joys of coming to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is seeing something you wouldn’t normally see. In an unexpected genre blend this show provides jugglers and ballet dancers performing together on stage. With instances of humour, and obvious athletic talent and skill, this show also provided a truly elegant moment of beauty that almost drove this cynical city dweller to tears. Almost. Worth a look.

★★★★
Assembly George Square Theatre, August 5-11, 13-17, 19-24, 26-30, 5.30pm £16.00


Ed Fest Fast Tips


ed1What to wear:

Layers and comfortable shoes. Edinburgh’s a hilly city, and you can end up walking a lot between shows. Much like the weather, the venues vary in temperature: some are hot, some are cold, some are wet! Dress accordingly.

How to navigate:

Download the free Edinburgh Festival Fringe App from Kotikan Ltd, which lists all the shows taking place. It allows you to search by shows, location, nearby shows, reviews etc, as well as book tickets and show venues on a map. A little lifesaver.

What to eat:

Deep friend Mars bars. You won’t regret it. Besides you’ll burn off all the calories climbing those Edinburgh hills.

mars

0 comment

Radiant Vermin, by Philip Ridley at the Soho Theatre

| Reviews You Can Read In One Minute

Radiant Vermin 1

The housing crisis is clearly the hot topic of the moment, as explored by both Game by Mike Bartlett at the Almeida Theatre and now Philip Ridley’s Radiant Vermin at Soho Theatre.

On a sparse brilliant white stage a young couple Jill and Ollie, played by Gemma Whelan and Sean Michael Verey, tell us about how they came to have their dream home. They are offered a free, but run down house in a dilapidated part of town by a Mephistopheles figure called Miss Dee, played with aplomb by Amanda Daniels. When Ollie accidentally kills a homeless intruder and the vagrant’s body disappears and is replaced by Jill’s dream kitchen, the couple realise renovations on their home rely on a murder.

Radiant 2Ridley’s funny and energetic satire on greed and consumerism races along, as the couple try to convince you their actions are in the best interests of their child. The play builds toward a truly extraordinaire party scene, where Whelan and Michael Verey exhilaratingly play a total of twelve characters at speed and with huge success. A triumph of writing, acting, and direction: it was quite a spectacle.

A clever, amusing and probing satire Radiant Vermin asks the question of the audience: what would you do? Well, I would go and see this play.

Radiant Vermin by Philip Ridley is on at the Soho Theatre until 12th April.

0 comment

Can You Be a Writer and NOT Suffer From Anxiety?

| Playwriting, Uncategorized, Writing

scream

I have found another similarity between writing a book and writing a play: the fear. I’ve reached the part in the process where I lose all faith in my words. I’m convinced everything I’ve written is utter crap. The play will fail. Everyone will hate it. It’s not good enough. What am I putting the poor actors and director through? Now I’m not only gambling with my reputation I’m gambling with theirs.

Most writers I know are anxious. It varies on a scale from distractedly chewing their nails, to those using tools like Mindfullness, medication, or having counselling to help. I myself have explored pretty much every step on that scale. Including that old favourite: wine. Of course you can suffer from anxiety and not be a writer, but I often ask myself (Carrie Bradshaw voice): can you be a writer and not suffer from anxiety?

Write what you know is the oft used tip. If you wish to write a novel set in 18th century St Petersburg then research the city, the era, the clothing, the language, everything: then you will write what you know. You will get it right. In the same way, you can’t write about a broken heart without knowing what a broken heart feels like. You have to draw on the part of you that suffered to make it convincing – even if it’s transferring that emotion to another’s story.

Writers are constantly rooting around in the dark places. Opening old wounds so they can feel the pain, the grief, the despair and, of course, the joy. Simply to drop those feelings into 18th century St Petersburg, like you would an architecture reference or a popular food. It’s hard to turn that off at the end of the day. I see the exhaustion in the actors’ faces when they’ve tapped into that same shadowy place, and I recognise it. It’s like a collapse. Inwards. They’re spent.

In order to write successfully you must make people feel. Of course writers are anxious: we never let our wounds fully heal over. We’re always picking at them. Anxiety and writing go hand in hand.

Will people like my play? Will the audience feel the emotion? I don’t know. But I know I need that fear, that anxiety to keep writing. Without it the words are empty and meaningless.

 

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.

0 comment

Review of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

| Uncategorized

Spoiler alert: this review is written on the assumption the reader is already familiar with the plot.

The stage of Regent’s Park fairy light drenched open-air theatre has been concreted over.  There are caravans, the hustle and bustle of tracksuit-wearing men and body-con, body-baring neon clad girls with big hair.  There’s even a crane.  Workmen shout and jeer through the audience.  This is Shakespeare meets My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

It is an inspired contemporary setting.  The hierarchies of the traveller world, the marriages at a young age, the oxymoron of swaggering, foul mouthed underdressed girls who value their virginity, who won’t have sex before marriage, as documented in the channel 4 TV show, fit nicely into Shakespeare’s Athenian society.  Leaving aside questions over the TV show’s fair portrayal of a race of people, this is what the wider audience now recognises as Gypsy life: huge wedding dresses, massive diamante studded tiered cakes and a bumping and grinding dance routine to LMFAO’s, I’m Sexy And I Know It.  Puck rides through them, a hoodie on a BMX, his face covered with a bandana; as if he’s arrived straight from the London riots or a Banksy artwork.

The Director Matthew Dunster’s Big Fat Shakespeare world is funny.  Very funny.  I particularly enjoyed Rebecca Oldfield’s tottering performance of Helena, clicking after her Demetrius in a fine example of both comic timing and slapstick.  It was wet and cold on the night I went and I was wrapped in a ski jacket and a bin bag.  Each time Oldfield and her fellow actors plunged about the sodden and concrete floor I winced.  They didn’t even flinch.

George Bukhari excels as Bottom.  His performance was a delight from start to finish.  So much so that the darker side of the play took a while to sink in.  Referencing the case where a group of travellers were arrested for imprisoning migrant workers, homeless and other vulnerable men as ‘slaves’, Bottom and his cohort of disparate voiced workmates are kept locked in a white transit van.  They are prisoners.  When they speak of being hanged there is a genuine fission of fear.  This is a clever and bold move by Dunster.  Again it fits nicely into the original tensions and motives explored by the play.  But it does cast the traveller world in an archaic light, how easily their ways and community sit with a play written in the 1590s.

Or does it?  Oberon and Titania appear in magical, if somewhat Mad Max style, guises.  The unreality to balance the reality.  Peer closely at the advertising hoarding that dominates the stage backdrop and you will see something familiar about the glossy couple advertising Athenian Developments.  Puck famously reminds us to think of what we have seen as a dream at the end of the play.  Has Dunster created a nightmare where the audience finds itself laughing at an oppressed people?  When we giggle at the nylon tracksuits and gaudy jewellery, a ‘Chav’ uniform, we laugh at the lower class.  When we laugh at Bottom and his captive clowns, we stand shoulder to shoulder with Theseus, the man who has imprisoned them for entertainment.  An uncomfortable feeling settled like a layer of rain on my laughter.  This is a production that questions more than what is on the stage.  Go, watch, laugh, enjoy, but think about it afterwards.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is showing until 5th September at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.  Further details here: http://openairtheatre.org/production/a-midsummer-nights-dream

Photo from Evening Standard website.

0 comment