Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Previewing grey matter: Grey Man @Theatre503

 
Part theatrical experiment, part exploration on perspectives, the Grey Man at Theatre 503 promises to be an interesting night out. Two women, one half the age of the other, take a different perspective to the same event.

The piece explores how different perspectives reshape the world around us, and how the power of story telling.

Maya is a 50 year old woman revisiting the site of a terrible family tragedy. Meanwhile Maya is 25 year old woman returning to her family to help her sister who is recovering from a mental illness. 

One is dark. One is light. And if you missed a line first time around, you are bound to catch it on the second.

This is the second production from REND which aims to embark on risk-taking theatre experiences.

The piece is written by Lulu Raczka, who was part of the Royal Court Writers Programme in 2014. Her recent work, Clytemnestra, was part of The Iphigenia Quartet at Theatre503’s sister theatre, the Gate. 

The piece is directed by Robyn Winfield-Smith, who is is Artistic Director of REND Productions. 

It is on this week only at Theatre503 in Battersea.

Photo credit: Nick Rutter

Monday, June 13, 2016

Passing strangers: Off The Kings Road @JSTheatre

Off The Kings Road. People come, people go. Nothing happens. Or perhaps not much happens. This isn't Grand Hotel in terms of melodrama or scale. Instead, there are two people in their autumn years trying to get over the past and move on. Oh and there is a hooker, a camp hotel clerk and a dodgy psychiatrist to Skype with.

It is an interesting concept. But you get the feeling this small-scale production feels a bit crowded with all these characters. Perhaps played as a two-hander it might have given us the chance to get to know the two main characters more.

Michael Brandon plays Matt. He has come to London from California for a holiday after the death of his wife. He has brought his Valium, mouthwash and a sex doll. He is a man trying to get over her passing. He has plans to do all the things they would have wanted to do. Go to the park, go to a gallery. Live life.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The brown word: The Spoils @TrafStudios


Bromance is in the air in with The Spoils, Jesse Eisenberg’s funny new play now at Trafalgar Studios. Women and relationships feature throughout the piece. But the real relationship at the heart of this piece is between obnoxious New Yorker Ben, and his flatmate Kalyan, a hard-working immigrant student from Nepal.

Eisenberg is making his West End debut as a writer and star of his show which has transferred from New York. As Ben, he is a tightly wound guy full of tics and mannerisms as he rages against everyone and everything. He does not really have a job and lives in a flat his father bought him. It’s a mostly unappealing character but Eisenberg gives him enough of the best lines and occasional vulnerabilities to make you feel a bit sympathetic towards him.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Mister cellophane: Christie in Love @KingsHeadThtr


There is always someone that has to takes something too far... Usually it is a joke. Here in Christie In Love, the central message seems to be that Christie's penchant for weird sex practices was a step too far. His punishment was execution. This seemed fitting for a man who indulged in that... And mass murder.

Rough Haired Pointer attempt to understand the motivation of a seemingly dull serial killer John Christie in this production now playing at the Kings Head Theatre.

You get the sense that there is a lot more that this piece could have told. Written in 1969, back then there was probably a greater awareness of the details of the case. This production doesn’t let you in on that.

The play runs about an hour and calls for the action to be played very slowly. This emphasises the tedium and ordinariness of the man committing the horrors and those uncovering it. But it isn’t always easy to watch and may not to be everyone’s taste.

Still for those who are game, there is much to admire. The cartoon police constable (played by Daniel Buckley), is digging the garden looking for evidence and reciting dirty limericks all the time. The pragmatic Inspector (Jake Curran) keeps an emotional distance from the horror.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Odd Shaped Balls Preview @ORLTheatre


Now playing at the Old Red Lion theatre is Odd Shaped Balls. It's a play about an outed Rugby Player James and the fallout created from it.

Odd Shaped Balls is a one man show that tackles the issue of homosexuality in sport and probes into why it's such a big deal in the first place. And ultimately, isn't it more important how you play the game and work as a team?

Matthew Marrs plays James Hall. He has the world at his feet as a professional rugby player but after people find out his sexuality, he finds his life changing dramatically. James has to decide whether he has the courage to not only be true to himself, but act as a role model for others.

A glass half full: A Twist of Lemmon @St_JamesTheatre


Every son probably has imitated their father at some point (either intentionally or not). But when your dad is actor Jack Lemmon, you know this is going to be a fascinating night out.

Based on his memoir of the same name, A Twist of Lemmon at the St James Theatre studio is Chris Lemmon’s way of giving us a little bit of insight into what it was like growing up as the son of a big Hollywood star.

With some simple projections and footage from his career, Chris’s one man show brings to life his father. His mannerisms, his movies, and most of all, his relationship with his son.

It is an evening of gentle storytelling, but clever in how it describes not just the life and times of his father, but their at times complex and difficult relationship.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Kitchen sink dramas: Knife Edge @BigHouseTheatre

Chicken! Chicken and chips! Chicken! Chicken and chips! Chicken! Chicken and chips! Chicken! Chicken and chips!

Early on in Knife Edge, the cast bursts into chanting this. Soon there is a driving percussion backing it and it sounds like it is not just a call to eat but a way of life. And so unfolds a tale written by David Watson and directed by Maggie Norris about a girl with big dreams and more than a few issues.

The piece is produced by The Big House. It is a charity that helps young people in care to fulfill their potential. Almost half of all prisoners under 21 have been in care and the charity uses drama, mentoring and support to tackle breaking this cycle.

Over 12 weeks they developed the piece and the cast - most have never acted before - worked to devise the production.

Cooking with gas: Kenny Morgan @ArcolaTheatre


Gay angst, cigarettes and gas. Kenny Morgan at the Arcola Theatre re imagines Terrence Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea as how things might have happened.

The suicide of bit actor Kenneth Morgan may have been the inspiration for this work about a woman abandoned by her alcoholic younger lover. Here Mike Poulton takes the story and places it in gritty, closeted post war Camden.

After a decade of living in a closeted relationship with Terrence Ratigan, Kenny Morgan leaves him for a young bisexual actor, Alec.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Loyal and obedient: A Subject of Scandal and Concern @Finborough


John Osborne's incisive look at freedom and intolerance is given a fresh look in this resourceful production playing for a short run at the Finborough Theatre.

Originally written for television in 1960, simple staging and riveting performances will have you transfixed.

The story follows George Jacob Holyoake, the last man to stand trial for blasphemy in England. He is played here by Jamie Muscato who gives the role a dark intensity and determination as a man whose world crumbles around him while he holds onto his beliefs.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lost and found: Stone Face @Finborough


Stone Face by Eve Leigh, tackles the subject of abuse and recovery in a sensitive and humorous way. It is currently playing at the Finborough Theatre. With its gentle storytelling, it draws you into the story and allows the performers to shine.

Inspired by true events, the story revolves around Catherine. Found after her mother killed herself, nobody is sure if she ever left the one bedroom flat they shared. She can neither walk nor speak.

It starts with her receiving medical care thanks to a tabloid newspaper campaign that manages to finance it. Catherine's half sister Ali, her doctor and a tabloid journalist are the only people in her life. Over the course of roughly ninety minutes we are drawn into a world of lost children, mental health and isolation.