263 posts categorized "Fringe/pub theatre" Feed

Review: Jade City, Bunker Theatre - an interesting verbal boxing bout that ends up on the ropes.

In the confined space of the boxing ring and armed with just a couple of low bar stools Calvert and Quinn make the dialogue a dynamic sparring match.

Jade City  Barry Calvert and Brendan Quinn (credit Ali Wright) (3)
Jade City: Barry Calvert and Brendan Quinn. Photo: Ali Wright


Alice Malseed's play starts with Monty (Barry Calvert) and Sas (Brendan Quinn) standing in the audience either side of the stage which has a boxing ring at its centre.

It's the only time you'll see them outside the ring, the Belfast men talk of their childhood, bikes they coveted, japes and fun - champion times before life's battles became more challenging.

As they move into the ring they are older and a fight has begun, for freedom, for a place in the world and a simple happiness of cans of Harp.

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Interview: Director Harry Mackrill on his new play, working on Angels In America and dream casts

"I can’t begin to describe everything I’ve learnt from some incredible directors. Their passion and dedication is perhaps the most immediate thing that comes to mind."

Harry Mackrill - World's End
Harry Mackrill

Director Harry Mackrill lastest work is World’s End, the debut play from upcoming writer James Corley at The King's Head Theatre and he's recently been announced one of the theatre's new artistic associates.

As an associate director, he's worked on two epic productions at the National Theatre: Angels in America and Peter Gynt and spent a year at the Kiln Theatre.

I asked him about his latest work, the role of an associate director and if he knew Angels was going to be such a huge success.

Tell us a bit about World’s End the play you are directing at the King’s Head and what drew you to the work?

World's End is a story, set in 1998 against the backdrop of the approaching Millennium and the Kosovo war, which charts two neighbouring families – both single parents – and how their sons fall in love whilst playing Zelda on the Nintendo.

This is a play about first love. When we meet Ben and Besnik they are both dealing with their own fears and insecurities about the outside world, but together they find security and passion.

I think James [Corley] has written two wonderful LGBT figures in the two characters, but the love they find in each other is something that is universal.

It is a profoundly moving, visceral piece of storytelling. I am drawn to work that embraces stillness, and James understands the power of simplicity.

It’s a gift to be able to work on the play – both in the writer-director relationship, but also with the actors and seeing the characters come to life.

How would you describe your directing style and what was your approach for this play?

I’m not sure I’m best placed to answer this question – I have set of rules that I approach each production with.

My main passion for directing comes from a love and respect for actors: what they do and the fact that they are brave enough to do it.

I think my role as the director, in the rehearsal room, is to create a space that is supportive and rooted, so that actors can do their best work.

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Camden Fringe Review: All The Little Lights, Tristan Bates - brittle and tense

"If he knew I'd seen you, he'd kill me and worse"

CoLABorate All the little lights Jan 2019-311

What could be worse than being killed? For Joanne, the victim of child sex grooming gang you don't want to imagine but delivered in such a throwaway manner its potency is subtle. 

Jane Upton's play, All The Little Lights was inspired by news headlines about the Rochdale child sex abuse ring, not an easy or comfortable topic to broach. 

It is delicately handled, the story told through the eyes of Joanne (Lucy Mabbitt), her friend Lisa (Erin Mullen) and young newcomer Amy (Emily Fairn).

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Review: Actually, Trafalgar Studios 2 - complex and gripping college date-rape trial drama

Is saying 'actually', the same as saying 'no'? This is a question posed very early on in Anna Ziegler's play about two students whose drunken date night ends up in a rape accusation. 

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Yasmin Paige and Simon Manyonda in Actually at Trafalgar Studios 2

It is the first term at a prestigious university. A time for making new friends, enjoying the freedom of being away from home, finding out who you are and where you fit in.

Amber (Yasmin Paige) is Jewish at turns shy, awkward, talkative and forward. Tom (Simon Manyonda) is black, good looking and confident, occasionally to the point of being 'dickish', something he acknowledges.

When we first meet them they are on the fateful night out. It appears from the nature of the conversation that they are in the early stages of getting to know each other.

The narrative jumps back and forth piecing together the events leading up to the alleged rape and the college hearing that results from the accusation.

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Review: The Colours, Soho Theatre - quiet ordinariness is this play's secret power

Harriet Madeley's The Colours is a verbatim play based on interviews with people with life-limiting illnesses and those working in palliative care.

Morfydd-Clark-and-Mark-Knightley-in-The-Colours-Photographer-Hannah-Anketell
Morfydd Clark and Mark Knightley in The Colours: Photo: Hannah Anketell

While researching the play, Madeley herself was diagnosed with a potentially life-limiting illness but rather than fraught emotional meaning-of-life drama this a piece of quiet ordinariness - which is its secret power. 

It starts in darkness projecting the audience by way of a soundscape to the seaside but what it is, in reality, is a therapy session at a Welsh hospice.

Sands of time

Sand is a physical motif throughout. It represents the shoreline, the beach from patients' therapy sessions but also the flowing sands of time as seen from the bucket at the back of the stage.

We are introduced to two cancer patients and another with motor neurone disease, getting snatches of their conversations with family, doctors and their thoughts through diagnosis, initial treatments and then palliative care.

The tone, for want of a better comparison, is like animation series Creature Comforts which is voiced by ordinary people.

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Review: The Actor's Nightmare, Park Theatre - a few giggles but it needs more bite

The Actor's Nightmare is six short plays, linked by themes of acting, theatre and performance and brought together for the first time at the Park Theatre.

The Cast of The Actor's Nightmare. Photo credit - Ali Wright
The Cast of The Actor's Nightmare. Photo: Ali Wright

It kicks off with a monologue, Mrs Sorken, which is in part a lecture about the etymology of words such as 'theatre' and part reflection from a theatre-goer.

While observations about the ancient origins of the language around theatre and performance elevate the importance of the medium, the theatre-goer brings things down to earth with a bump, talking about the practicalities of outside theatre and wanting to be home by 10.30.

The irony of the arts perceived lofty importance pitched against mundane reality is refreshing and I'd have liked to have seen more of the audience perspective explored.

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Coming soon klaxon...a fringe play you should see

Squarehires
One of the highlights of my trip to the Edinburgh Fringe last year was Nouveau Riché's Queens of Sheba.

It was an exhilarating watch and sparked a strong emotional response so I'm chuffed to see that it is touring the country in the Autumn.

Details of the tour can be found here and if you are London-based, like me, then Queens of Sheba will be at the Battersea Arts Centre 18-23 November.

It's a show I can't recommend enough and if you want to know more, you can read my review here.


Review: Seven Methods Of Killing Kylie Jenner, Royal Court - makes a lot of what is on stage look stodgy and staid

It made me feel young and old, angry and ashamed, it was interesting, revealing and funny.

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Seven methods of killing kylie jenner, Royal Court: Photo Helen Murray

London's theatre scene is awash with productions which offer a 'fresh' take on classics but Jasmine Lee-Jones' play Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner demonstrates exactly what really 'fresh' theatre is - and should be.

Closeted in her bedroom, Cleo (Danielle Vitalis) is venting her anger and frustration at the world using Twitter.

However, she doesn't anticipate the storm she will create not just on social media but with her friend Kara (Tia Bannon).

Starts with a Tweet

It starts with Cleo's sarcastic tweet under her handle @incognegro about reality TV star Kylie Jenner being described as a 'self-made billionaire':

"YT woman born into rich American family, somehow against all odds manages to get more rich..."

She goes on to call out the hypocrisy pointing out the cultural appropriation, colourism and inequality.

A glib death threat becomes a musing on how you kill a 'social media figure' and the ensuing Twitter storm serves to highlight not only the toxicity that exists on social media but within society.

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Review: Dark Sublime, Trafalgar Studios - laughs and hammy 80s sci-fi but could be slicker

While the play gets off to a punchy start with plenty of laughs it doesn't feel like the focus on relationships, loneliness and the nature of friendship get sufficient purchase. 

Dark Sublime  Trafalgar Studios (credit Scott Rylander) (3) Marina Sirtis and Kwaku Mills
Dark Sublime Trafalgar Studios: Marina Sirtis and Kwaku Mills. Photo: Scott Rylander

There are two actors playing actors on stage in London at the moment and both characters present as needy and vain.

Andrew Scott's Garry in Present Laughter (Old Vic) is at the extreme end of the spectrum but there are elements too in Marina Sirtis' Marianne.

She's an actress whose star has long been in the descendent having reached the heady heights of a 1980s sci-fi series called Dark Sublime and some episodes in a soap.

Now she gets by on the odd bit of radio work and corporate training gigs and spends her evenings drinking and grumbling with old friend Kate (Jacqueline King) when she isn't seeing her new, young girlfriend Suzanne (Sophie Ward).

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Review: Summer Rolls, Park Theatre - tough love viewed through a lens in the first British Vietnamese play

Actress and writer Tuyen Do's first full length play Summer Rolls brings a story about a British Vietnamese family to a UK stage for the first time.

13. Anna Nguyen - Summer Rolls - Photographer: Danté Kim
Anna Nguyen - Summer Rolls, Park Theatre. Photo: Danté Kim

Mother (Linh-Dan Pham) believes hard work and drive will result in success. She is strict with her two children Mai (Anna Nguyen) and Anh (Michael Phong Lee) and her husband (Kwong Loke) doesn't come off lightly either.

Mai is bright and works hard but pushes against the boundaries imposed by her mother.

She enjoys photography and delving beneath the surface of a photo but it makes her realise there is far more to her parents and what they've experienced than they outwardly present.

But, she doesn't know how to talk to them about it until almost too late.

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