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Death becomes her: A Brief List Of Everyone Who Died @finborough

For a natural process, death is not a topic that comes up naturally for people. We ask how people are doing but expect the response to be “I’m great”, not “I’m not dead yet”. And so for the main character in A Brief List of Everyone Who Died, Graciela has a death issue. Starting with when she was five and found out only after the matter that her parents had her beloved dog euthanised. So Graciela decides that nobody she loves will die from then on. And so this piece becomes a fruitless attempt at how she spends her life trying to avoid death while it is all around her. It’s currently having its world premiere  at the Finborough Theatre . As the play title suggests, it is a brief list of life moments where death and life intervene for the main character, from the passing of relatives, cancer, suicides, accidents and the loss of parents. Playwright Jacob Marx Rice plots the critical moments of the lives of these characters through their passing or the passing of those around them. Howeve

Love and marriage: Mrs Orwell @ORLTheatre

London in 1949 was a grim time with ration books and strange fish from South Africa. But it's amazing the lengths people will go to keep up morale. Or secure a future income. The business of marriage is explored in Mrs Orwell, currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre.

It opens shortly after the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four. George Orwell is dying of tuberculosis in hospital. But in his rage against the dying light he believes he has at three more novels in him. So to keep up his morale he proposes to his friend Sonia Brownell, an assistant magazine editor.

Brownell is clear that she is not in love with him, but she does care for him. And she realises she could be his only hope to keep him going. Her heart is with a French Philospher and her body is often with Lucien Freud. Well, such is the glamorous life living with artists.

A terrific cast has been assembled here. Cressida Bonas as Sonia is cool and conflicted as the great beauty and potential saviour. Peter Hamilton Dyer as Orwell captures his obsessions and contradictions as he struggles to live to write that next novel. And Edmund Digby Jones is a delight as a Lucian Freud, presented here as a provocative sexual predator.

Robert Stocks as his publisher and Rosie Ede as his Nurse also serve to create further context of his life and the time.

It is a great looking production too. Rebecca Brower's fantastically plain looking hospital room sets the right mood.

Tony Cox's script brings together the intrigue and gossip of the time to create a simple story about art and compromises. It also gives a different take to the view Brownell was a gold digger. Considering she died penniless in 1980 she wasn't a very good one if she was.

Directed by Jimmy Walters, this production by Proud Haddock deserves to be around longer. But for now Mrs Orwell is at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 26 August.


Photos by Samuel Taylor

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