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Showing posts from 2017

Young Marx- Bridge Theatre

A review of two halves, as I can't be given a shiny new theatre to poke at without reviewing that too....

Everyone loves a new toy to play with...and The Bridge Theatre is a lovely new toy for theatreland. Firstly, it’s location is spectacular- the views of London are glorious and next summer it will make for many a delightful pre-theatre drink there. The location also is easily accessible by Tube and Bus (though I took the slow path and a walk along the South Bank). The building itself is light and airy, the bar area offering lots of room for sitting or loitering and with the space to ‘overspill’ outside on a nice day it makes a nice change from our obviously more ‘snug’ older buildings. The bar itself though I didn’t sample it, seemed to have an array of offerings, including some delicious looking cakes. I do love a good cake so I’ll be back for those. Another thing theatre-nerds like is a good toilet analysis. Well done Bridge Theatre. Firstly for Gender neutral signage, secon…

Holding the Man (some thoughts, not a review)

This isn't a 'review' because I saw this too close to the end of the run, but some plays make you want to put pen to paper regardless. It's also not a review, as this is filled with the kind of personal anecdotal nonsense that people tell me doesn't belong in my blog.

Well screw that, this is my blog, and for this one I'm writing it how I'd like.

A little background. For anyone who doesn't know me, I wrote my PhD in what essentially translates to 'Plays about AIDS'. There's a far more sophisticated description. But for the purposes of today, that about covers it. For anyone who wants more of that nonsense, my side blog is here

I started my PhD in September 2010. In June 2010 (June 21st, I looked it up. Yes I keep a list) I saw 'Holding the Man' for the first time. I actually had no idea what it was about going in, I was actually just a bit obsessed with Simon Burke at the time so booked to see him (what of it?). And so by accident …

Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle

The idea of music existing "between the notes" seems to be the best description of Heisenberg. A bit like the principle from which it takes it's name, that you cannot view a thing and observe it's momentum at once. The music analogy is more romantic though. And there is romance to Stephens' script. Even if it is not the traditional kind.

The script itself feels a bit like a science experiment- a viewing of distinct, choice moments in a relationship history. Again with gaps, unobserved, unknown where we cannot be certain where our particles- Georgie and Alex- are in those moments. Neither can we quite be sure where they are heading at any given moment we do observe them. Science analogies aside, seeing only snapshots of a relationship, watching it evolve in abstract is both charming and engaging. It feels like a series of dates for the audience, and it draws us in wondering about the next moment as well as the ones missed in between. It's a fast-paced, contem…

The Busy World is Hushed- Finborough

The Busy World is Hushed- Finborough  ****
It's a rare play that gets both into your head and under your skin. Watching The Busy World is Hushed sends both a mind reeling trying to keep up with the ideas and questions posed by the characters, but also cuts to the heart with some frank, honest reflections on grief and love. Keith Bunin's play manages to weave 'academic' ideas of life and love with the reality in a way that's both intellectually rigorous and emotionally engaging. He puts Hannah (Kazia Pelka) at the centre of this; an Episcopalian Minister in Manhattan and an academic she is professionally wrestling with issues of God and associated ideas of good, bad and love. While in the background to her professional life she has spent half a lifetime wrestling personally with reconciling the loss of her husband before her Son was born. It’s a rare complex part for a ‘Mother’ role in a play, and Pelka plays the nuances and conflicts of Hannah well. As the play p…

Why Elliott & Harper is the company I've been waiting for

I can never resist a good (bad) pun in a title. As the first production from Elliott & Harper opens its doors for previews tonight, it’s worth pausing to think what this new production company means and why indeed we need more like it. Something of a ‘power house’ company formed of Marianne Elliott and Chris Harper. Both coming from the National Theatre- as Director and Producer respectively- there’s a real understanding of both the craft of theatre and the audiences that do- and don’t- come to it there. And theatre made by and produced by theatre people, in the commercial realm. That’s potentially very exciting.

Firstly, the act of two theatre people who really love theatre, really understand theatre both from an audience point of view and an artistic point of view. Secondly, one of the UK’s best directors striking out on her own to make theatre on her own terms. Thirdly, and you bet it’s an important factor, a woman artistic director. It’s all exciting, and has the potential, …

Welcome to Night Vale 'All Hail' (Tour)

For those unfamiliar with it, Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, starring Cecil Baldwin as Cecil Palmer, the voice of Night Vale's community radio show. Night Vale is a scenic little desert community where all of the weird things that have ever happened. Think the love child of X Files and Radio 4. A world of forbidden dog parks, hooded figures, floating cats, and mysterious lights in the sky (mostly void, partially stars). In a way completely inexplicable but makes perfect sense upon listening. The show began in 2012 and releases twice a month, alongside numerous live performances, books and of course various merchandise. It’s a very ‘Millennial’ experience- released into the wild for free, crowdfunded and supported by a loyal and growing audience. But it also marks a success story of that very ‘Millennial’ approach to doing things.
I confess I’ve not listened to Night Vale in probably a year. Nothing to do with their work I am just not…

Our Town- Royal Exchange Manchester

It seems everyone has a first memory of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. Mine, in typical style is mildly embarrassing and reveals me to be the uncultured swine I so often am. It was my third year in University, which happened to be my 'Study Abroad' year. So I find myself in an introduction to theatre class at McGill, with the Professor (you have to call them that there I discovered even if they aren't a proper Prof like at home) holds up a book (this was 2004, we're old school) and asked what the famous image was from, a work that was of great importance he said, it changed American theatre he said.

He looked at me. 
"Oklahoma" I said. 
I actually have no idea why. Actually I do, they were all dressed in farm clothes on a stage and that was literally the only play about being on a farm in America I knew. Also I'm an uncultured swine. (In my defence I hadn't studied theatre since GCSE at this point) 
So my 'Out Town' first encounter story is …

A Kind of Painful Progress...Angels in America and me

Almost a week ago now, Prior Walter bid the Lyttleton theatre ‘More Life’ one last time. Twenty-four years earlier it had opened next door in the Cottesloe. And some 14 or so years earlier they Angel first crashed into my life. Since then it’s been a labour of love, of 100, 000 words of PhD thesis and thousands more words in blog posts, message board comments, emails, tweets and arguments with wanker academics who obviously know better. And finally, this year, hours of conversation with my favourite director, hours of talking to an audience at the NT, kind words with the cast (and hugs!) and words committed to the programme. It’s been one hell of a ride, it hasn’t always been easy, but finally all the work to this point feels worth it.
I keep coming back to Harper’s final monologue, ‘In this world there is a kind of painful progress, a longing for what’s left behind, and dreaming ahead.’ And as much as I’m already longing for it what this production also gave me is a chance to dream …