Tag Archives: theatre

Review: “Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp”

What a crowd! Young, old, stylish and staid…every kind of ‘we’ comes to the Royal Court Theatre these days – thanks in no small part to current Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone’s fresh and innovative programming.

This dexterous and impressive new play from the Grand Dame of British drama does not disappoint. It’s invigorating, macabre and funny!

Caryl Churchill’s quartet of plays explores some of the contentious issues that currently fracture our society, cleverly placed within a framework of the romantic myths, legends and superstitions that we employ to condone and facilitate cruelty and oppression.

“Glass” examines how we train our girls (portrayed by the excellent Rebekah Murrell) to be as fragile and invisible as glass, and our boys to be tough and show no fear or weakness. How our unrealistic expectation of our children and inability to listen to their fears and secrets diminishes and destroys them.

“Kill” asks the question: are we at the mercy of things beyond our control? A nonchalant Greek God (Tom Mothersdale) sits on a cloud and describes to a small boy the unending cycle of rampant ambition (necessitating incest, brutal murders and revenge) that happened when the furies were unleashed on the world. Parents raped, killed, sacrificed and ate their children and nothing was sacred…apart from the Gods.

“Bluebeard”: at a drunken dinner party, its walls garlanded with the bloodied wedding dresses of his victims, Bluebeard’s sophisticated friends bask in the reflected glory of knowing this recently exposed, misogynistic serial killer. They sit around, expressing their surprise, as… he was so talented, charismatic and powerful…unaware of their facilitation of, and complicity in his crimes.

These three short scenes are interspersed with female circus performers demonstrating their physical dexterity in juggling, balancing and acrobatics, serving a useful device for the set changes and as an allegory for a working woman’s life.

“Imp” is the longest of the four pieces, with a slower more reflective, almost ‘Pinteresque’ feel. It explores identity, status and superstition within the fractious relationship of two elderly co habiting cousins, affable, depressed Jimmy (Toby Jones) and Dot (Deborah Findlay) who hides a number of dark and alarming secrets.

Jimmy chats to various local characters (amusingly lifted from King Lear, Hamlet and Oedipus Rex) on his daily runs. Dot broods at home obsessing about her niece’s relationship with a homeless stranger.

Dot has a bottle with an imp inside it, which she believes would cause havoc were it to be released. One day, Jimmy opens that bottle…

James Macdonald’s confident direction ensured the intimacy and pace of this production, assisted by the deft characterization of its cast. Miriam Buether’s set was simple but dramatic. Special mention of Louisa Harland’s understated and convincing performance in two very contrasting parts.

“Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp”: on at The Royal Court until 12th October

Review: “Carnation for a Song”

The Young Vic Café / Bar is bustling…filled with people hanging out and relaxing, unlike the determined queue of people waiting to get access to the performance space for this show, tickets (which are free) are now scarce, such is its popularity.

This Community event commissioned by the Young Vic as part of its ‘Taking part project’ has clearly been a resounding success.

“Carnation for a Song” inspired by Oscar Wilde’s famous queer reference to green carnations, is an ensemble piece for fourteen LGBQ Londoners aged 50+, who share their personal life experience through stories and song.

This is a production that is both comedic and poignant. Its participants have lived through decriminalization, HIV, Section 28 and the legalization of same sex marriage, as well as the day to day trials of Gay life and online dating!

Josephs Atkins’ original songs and musical accompaniment, inspired by the original interviews with the cast, were a highlight, of the show. Expansive, expressive and toe tapping! I particularly loved “Gateways Girls” but enjoyed them all.

Director Megan Cronin shepherded her flock of ‘fearless participants’ and enabled the authenticity of our collective history to shine through. The audience were visibly moved.

This is an entertaining and interesting production. It illuminates the importance of narrating our history, lest it be made invisible. We must not forget our Trans and BAME family’s part in it.

 

Young Vic 10-13thApril

Tate Late 26th April

Review: “Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel”

This is a thrilling and very scary production. I loved it! I was literally gripping my seat…I haven’t seen anything so dramatically and musically accomplished for a very long time

“Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel” is part of the ENO’s commitment to supporting new operas and presenting works that appeal to a large and diverse audience. This one is a winner!

The production tackles its horrific subject matter head on. It unflinchingly depicts the pitiful and harrowing lives of the working class, uneducated, women who lived in Whitechapel in 1888. During this period poverty was regarded as a criminal vice, and women as mere chattels.

It charts the bloody reign of Jack the Ripper, focusing on five of his victims. These women were all in their forties, down on their luck and working as prostitutes. It explores the camaraderie that existed between them and the community the Ripper stalked. It goes some way in restoring the humanity and visibility of those women.

Right from the start, Ian Bell’s atmospheric score draws you into the dark labyrinth of the women’s precarious lives, revealing its humour, bravado and brutality. The fluid complexity of Bell’s beautifully executed composition illuminates the individual characters, as well as their interactions. It gave me goose bumps.

Emma Jenkins’ libretto is poignant and heart wrenching. “None but the lonely heart can know my sorrow” – a quote taken from one of the actual victims’ headstone – still haunts me.

The five central characters are beautifully created and sung with vocal dexterity and sincerity. It’s a star-studded cast and not one of the performers disappoints. Including the forty strong chorus.

This is an opera that will appeal to people who usually don’t go to, or like opera. If you’re a fan of drama, suspense, horror and an entertaining night out, don’t miss it. I suggest you take a friend…there will be lots to talk about

“Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel” runs 3-12 April

Booking: eno.org 

Box Office: 0207 845 9300

Review: War Requiem

I love going to the ENO. It’s not just the gorgeous architecture or its fabulous location.  It’s because of the sense of inclusion I feel as soon as I step into the building. The feeling, that every type of person comes here, and every person is made welcome.

This production of “War Requiem” is of particular interest to the LGBTQ community. Composed in 1962 by Benjamin Britten, (with the tenor part originally written for his lover Peter Pears.) Britten uses excerpts from Wilfred Owen’s poetry, to epitomize the waste and futility of war. Both Britten and Owen were homosexual and living at a time when it was illegal to be so. This particular production’s designer, Wolfgang Tillman, is a gay activist as well as a Turner prizewinner.

War Requiem is a choral extravaganza, epic and thrilling in equal measure. Its score is well served by an enormous chorus of adults and children. The body of the chorus is onstage for much of the production.

The sure performances of soloists David Butt Philip and Roderick Williams draw the poignancy and sorrow from the text. But it was soprano Emma Bell, who stole the show, with her beauty, vocal dexterity and theatrical presence.

Tillman’s set comprises of photographs projected onto three large panels onstage. Apart from the early archive pictures of injured soldiers, I found most of the images irrelevant, their static quality distracting from, rather than enhancing, the emotional intensity of the music and libretto.

Britten’s consummate score combined with Owen’s emotionally harrowing text, clearly depicts the suffering and horror that our gallant soldiers, many of them just boys, endured for their country. Particularly so, for the homosexuals in their ranks who were criminalized because of their sexuality

This beautifully orchestrated production, reminds us that War is not a solution…it’s a tragedy.  Love is the solution. Including the Love that once, dare not speak its name.

E.N.O. until Dec 7th

 

Inside Kent Magazine: ‘An LGBT Celebration at Smallhythe Place’

Barn Theatre at Smallhythe Place

Saturday 10 & 11 June, 3pm

To celebrate National Trust’s Prejudice and Pride programme L.G.B.T Poet Laureate Trudy Howson is coming to Smallhythe Place to explore The Smallhythe Trio: Edith Craig, Christopher St. John and Clare Atwood, through poetry and prose.

She will also be in conversation with our House Steward, Susannah Mayor and Curator of the current LGBT exhibition, Carla Danella, about Edy Craig and her circle of LGBT friends that lived at the property. There will be a Q&A session to close the event.

Free entry

Read the full article here: http://insidekentmagazine.co.uk/an-lgbt-celebration-at-smallhythe-place/