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Showing posts from April, 2020

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: #aiww The Arrest of Ai Weiwei ★★★

#aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei
Hampstead Theatre, London
Thursday 11th April - Saturday 18th May 2013In the final installment of their Theatre at Home season during lockdown, Hampstead Theatre presents their 2013 politically charged drama that focuses on Artist Ai Weiwei’s sudden arrest at Beijing Airport on 3rd April 2011, and the 81 days that followed in which he disappeared from view of everyone and the media. Howard Brenton’s script does a remarkable job in bringing stillness and tension to his writing through scenes confined in small locations, laid out bare to the audience with the stylylistic exhibition staging from Ashley Martin Davis, who puts our imagination at the forefront as we recount those 3 months were Weiwei was tested to his limits as an artist who passionately adhered to his freedom of speech.Taking on the titular role, Benedict Wong is absorbing as Weiwei in a way that keeps you mesmerised by his scale of emotion that he can conjure up in a heartbeat; when interrog…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Common Lore ★★★★

Common Lore
King Street Studios, Newcastle
Saturday 25th April 2020 (Live Streamed Performance)Following on from the streamed performance held on Stute Theatre’s website and youtube page over the weekend, recorded live from King Street Studios in Newcastle, it’s abundantly clear as to why resident performer Sophia Hatfield won the Breakthrough Performance of The Year 2019 by Rural Touring Awards; her excelling nature to entertain and capture the imagination for an audience through her talents in storytelling and musical nature is a true gift to watch through the screen, and if Common Lore was to resume it’s tour following the lockdown, I would most definitely recommend trying to catch it wherever possible. As we follow 18 year old Scarlett through her repetitive life of bus journeys to her nan’s, as well as her love life taking an unexpected and quite worrying turn after swiping right on a certain dating app, Sophia propels us into Scarlett’s world that so many rural towns may recogni…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Bound ★★★★

Bound
Southwark Playhouse, London
Wednesday 28th September - Saturday 22nd October 2011Originally performed underneath London Bridge Station back in 2011, where The Southwark Playhouse was situated until it’s move to its current home in Elephant & Castle back in 2013, Bound is a play which solely focuses on the lives of the brave men who venture out to sea, battling choppy seas and risking their lives just so they can provide food and shelter for those loved ones back on the mainland. As a polish worker recruited by an agency to join a team of five strong men, Kerdzic (Thomas Bennett) is highlighted as our device to get to know the team of trawlers a little bit more, as Kerdzic meets them one by one; all recent graduates of East 15 Acting School Acting school when the play was premiered in 2011, the six men as a collective stand out with maturity and gravitas in their performances, taking you to that moment of reminding yourself that they are just actors on a stage underneath a tu…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Tiger Country ★★★★

Tiger Country
Hampstead Theatre, London
Monday 8th December 2014 - Thursday 15 January 2015Originally streamed back in July 2015 after a successful winter run the year before, Nina Raine’s Tiger Country continues to showcase some of theatre’s finest talents from it’s cast to creatives, in the latest stint of Hampstead Theatre’s ‘at home’ season. After being transfixed on her 2017 run of Consent at The National Theatre, I was delighted when it announced that Raine’s previous writing credits were to be showcased, with a production I was unfamiliar with, coming to realise following just how brilliant Nina’s ability is to write characters that we can care for within moments of being introduced to them due to the layers that drives deep into the body of work.We are charged straight into the operating room at the start of the show, where the heart of the action sees our characters flourish, with A&E registrar Vashti (Indira Varma) performing a delicate operation to remove a testicle. Wh…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Night of The Living Dead™ - The Remix ★★★★

Night of The Living Dead™ - The Remix
Leeds Playhouse
Friday 24th January - Saturday 15th February 2020Digitally Streamed on Imitating The Dog’s Website following the closure of it’s tour on Saturday 14th March in Dundee, this ‘remix’ of the 1968 cult classic film is rather astonishing in it’s own right; originally made on a budget of just $114,000 at the time, George A. Romero’s directional piece went on to gross over $30 million worldwide, and this shot for shot remake over 50 years later is a clear dedication and has the drive from it’s stimulus to create tension in the most unexpected ways.With a blank backdrop of white walls and thinly layered strips for performers to enter and exit, Imitating The Dog’s ensemble members are thrown into the action of being set the task to take the 96 minute movie and re-create the whole movie with just few cameras (mixture of handheld and tripod), operated in turns from the company of eight performers, as well as a foley artist in the corner to cr…

THEATRE AT HOME: Zara ★★★

Zara
Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, Imperial War Museum
Friday 10th - Saturday 11th May 2019Taking place in the grounds at The Imperial War Museum, Zara is an outdoor performance piece led by MTG Studios, which was staged last April in the bid to break the stigma surrounding adults with learning disabilities bringing up a child, and in particular for this performance focuses on Zara (Joanna Haines), who just meer moments after the start of a protest, to which the production sets as it's backdrop, gives birth to her child. Commissioned by Francis Morgan, the draw for the audience on this occasion is a puppeteered baby that reaches over 14ft high, the equivalent of one double decker. With Sam Hill presenting breaking news on the due date of the baby, his presence is ramped up with energy and charisma throughout, completely guiding the whole storyline and coming off a gentleman whenever he is faced with interviewing the public on the grounds. It should be noted that pretty much ever…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Curtains ★★★

Curtains
Wyndham’s Theatre, London
Friday 13th December 2019 - Monday 13th January 2020Based on Peter Stone’s Book of the same name, Curtains is a musical production set in 1959 Boston, where a performance of Aaron Fox (Ore Oduba) and Georgia Hendrick’s (Carley Stenson) Robbin’ Hood of The Old West gets struck with disaster on it’s press night  when Jessica Cranshaw, the show’s leading lady, collapses and is later pronounced dead following an incident that evening. It’s not long into the night that Lt. Frank Cioffi (Jason Manford) enters the scene, and intead of focusing on the murder itself, we follow Cioffi as a dectective who has longed to be have a career on the stage.Stunt Casting in the UK has in recent years become more prominent, with West End Shows such as ‘Everybody's Talking About Jamie’ and ‘Waitress’ taking the forefront, to give celebrities the chance to prove they are more than just a vlogger or a pussycat doll. Here, Presenter and Comedian Jason Manford, as well as…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: V&V ★★

V&V
The Studio, The Vault Festival
Tuesday 3rd - Sunday 8th March 2020
Spanning across two timelines, the message that V&V tries to convey through it’s performance is the art of communication between lovers; in an undisclosed year, though around 1922 would be a guess due to when Viginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West’s first met with each other, they are writing sweet letters and anxiously waiting upon the others response, whilst in the modern era, Lottie and Mia are texting over a dating app, getting instant replies, and learning just what it’s like to love each other through only images and some raunchy sexting.
As a piece of writing, Misha Pinnington pens juxtapositioned lover affairs that ultimately do not hold up in grabbing our attention and feeling any empathy for the characters on stage; Mia especially in the modern world comes across as someone who is out to hurt those she comes across and the way in which she is depicted in the latter stages of the piece is quite dis…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Drawing The Line ★★★

Drawing The Line
The Hampstead Theatre, London
Tuesday 3rd December 2013 - Saturday 11th January 2014Originally playing the latter months of 2013 and streamed on The Guardian’s website at the time, Drawing the Line is the third and final filmed archive performance being released to coincide with The Hampstead Theatre’s 'At Home' programme. Watching and noting all three productions has been interesting, to see how theatre can widen its audience through the service, proving that there is a thirst for this type of theatre in our climate, and hopefully has gained a few new future theatregoers along the way.Drawing The Line, which concentrates on Cyril Radcliffe’s (Tom Beard) five week mission to draw a partition through India in 1947, horrifically displaced 15 million people as a result, with a million of those killed. Having passed away from cancer in 2015 at the age 50, a beautiful ‘In Memoriam’ tag is placed at the start of the show for Beard, as well as for director Howard Dav…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak ★★★★

The Depraved Appetite of Tarrare the Freak
Wattle and Daub Theatre Company
Streamed Performance from Wattle and Daub's WebsiteBorn into Rural France during 1772, and having spent his whole life as part of a freak show along with prostitutes and thieves, Tarrare ‘The Freak’ was a man who had an appetite like no other, constantly eating more than anyone could ever record, with a statement saying that he once ate a meal intended for fifteen people in one sitting. Wattle and Daub Theatre Company, inspired by this tale, have turned it on it’s head to create a macabre Chamber Opera from Tom Poster and Tobi Poster-Su, and follows Tarrare’s journey in becoming a spy for The French Revolution, with the use of puppetry from Wattle and Daub, with Emma Powell brought in to continue the vision.Taking their positions and preparing the operating table at the top of the show, already the production feels like a polished piece, with clear direction from the company who all appear wearing brown apr…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Flowers for Mrs Harris ★★★★★

Flowers for Mrs Harris
Chichester Festival Theatre
Saturday 8th - Saturday 29th September 2018 (Digital Streaming Online)

Following it’s 2016 run at the Sheffield Crucible, Flowers for Mrs Harris was a part of the 2018 Spring Season at The Chichester Festival Theatre, a musical that follows the life of Ada Harris (Clare Burt), a woman who believes she has everything she’s always wanted right at home, where she is comforted by chatting to her departed husband Albert (Mark Meadows) and natters with best friend Violet Butterfield (Claire Machin), until one day whilst covering for Violet at Lady Dant’s (Joanna Riding) establishment, stubbles across Ravishing, the title of the most beautiful dress that Ada has ever seen. Here begins a journey that takes her over two years to save up enough money from her clients, and be whisked away to Paris to buy her own Christian Dior dress in his newest collection, even if that means departing with the most sentimental item she has ever kept from her …

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Time of Your Life ★★★★★

Time of Your Life
Gecko Theatre Company
Digital Streaming, Gecko WebsiteOriginally broadcast on BBC Four in 2015, Geco Theatre Company's Time of Your Life Your Life follows Peter (Amit Lahav) as he navigates, with the help of an ensemble, through monumental milestones that occurs throughout his lifetime through the art of multiple rooms amongst the soundstage, taking us as the viewer through a rollercoaster of emotions along the way and messing with our perceptions and itching for the rewind button for a second viewing.Opening up upon what can be described as a suprise birthday gathering, all seems smooth to start as Peter interacts with the company around him, who all move effortlessly around him as they submit positions dotted between the sofas to the open space of the living room, until not too long after we see Peter suffocating under a sheet and escaping soon after, symbolising a rebirth and subsequently the start of a journey which will see Peter going through the motions of…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Wonderland ★★★

Wonderland
The Hampstead Theatre, London
Digital Streaming Until Sunday 12th April 2020
Originally Streamed on The Guardian’s Website in July 2014, The Hampstead Theatre’s 2020 digital streaming initiative continues with Beth Steel’s production taking over the web for the week. Based around the real life events of the 1984 Miners Strike,  Wonderland follows the story of two young 16-year-old boys, Malcolm (David Moorst) and Jimmy (Ben-Ryan Davies) who are about to discover what the mining world is truly like. Steel’s script slashes between the lives below the surface to juxtaposition with those in charge above. Directed by Edward Hall, the piece constantly holds up where it can, coming off with razor-sharp humour, displaying throughout the musical talents of the company as they cross-fade into juxtaposed settings.
Following on from last week’s stream of Mike Bartlett’s Wild, the overriding similarity between the two productions has been the sheer detail and effort that has gone into …

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Lights Over Tesco Car Park ★★★★

Lights Over Tesco Car Park
Digital Streaming, Youtube
Poltergeist Theatre Company
Developed in association with The North Wall, Poltergeist Theatre Company's devised production boldly states at the start that ‘All of This is True’ across the back wall. They are of course referring to a man named Robert, who one evening in a Tesco’s car park in London encountered four red lights hovering in the air and believes that this was in fact an extraterrestrial sighting. Through the form of abduction cases and a whole tub of flying saucer sherbet sweets, this devised creation brings to life all forms of multimedia landscapes and visionaries, thanks to Jack Bradfield’s inventive script.
In what feels reminest of a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Series, the audience are solely in control of how the performance runs, for the fact that four options pop up onto a projected screen, and if members of the audience feel brave enough, they volunteer themselves forwards to decide which path the producti…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Missing ★★★

Missing
Gecko Theatre Company
International Tour 2013 - 2019

The magic behind a Gecko production is that you're guaranteed that not everyone will come away with the same opinion as to what that certain production you have just witnessed is truly about. With Missing, we know that the performance centres Lily, where apparently her soul is decaying as she becomes successful in life but feels like she is straying far from her past, the roots that made her and grew her up from the ground. What was see on Stage however is an amalgamation of dance through multilingual languages that we absolutely would not understand every word of, but through the rhythm and emotion projected on stage are thrown into this world that I believe many will find familiar.

I’ve also admired Gecko for going out with a bold setting, whether that’s the industrial setting of Institute, or the Bridal / Abstract Office state of The Wedding. Missing continues this thread of giving it’s audience their own space to d…

THEATRE AT HOME REVIEW: Wild ★★★

Wild
The Hampstead Theatre, London
Saturday 11th June - Saturday 24th July 2016
Streaming Now on The Hampstead Theatre’s Website and Youtube Page until 10pm on Sunday 5th April 2020, Mike Bartlett’s 2016 play feels heavily inspired by the Edward Snowden Movement from back in 2013, where he leaked highly classified information from the NSA. In Wild, We find Andrew (Jack Farthing) isolated away in a hotel room in Moscow, having that very same week changed the whole existence of his country through the simple touch of a button. Confined with only a cast of three in one setting, Wild takes you on a journey of mystery and intrigue, and most hits with it’s concept, if not aside from an overly-drawn out script and an unemotive presence from one of it’s characters.
The thrill of the theatre is when you are thrown straight into action with no real explanation. Bartlett’s script isn’t here to feed you constantly with the answers that you are looking for, more to the fact that it shoves questio…