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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

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In offering proof that Kafka is everything to everyone - writer-performer Jack Klaff plays various roles, including the man himself in what is a part tour, part immersion and part legend of Franz Kafka. He is a writer who achieved fame after his life was cut short due to succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of forty. He is probably better known for his reputation and the Kafkaesque style attributed to his writing than his life. But after this piece, you’re left curious to learn more about the man and his works. And that has to be the best theatrical tribute you could give a writer, even for a writer who stipulated that his works be destroyed upon his death. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre . Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. In 1901, he was admitted to a university and began studying law. While studying, he met Max Brod, who would become his best friend and eventual literary executor. Brod would posthumously publish many of his works and writings. Kafka’s life co

Seconds: Makeshifts and Realities @finborough

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The Finborough Theatre presents three short plays about women at the turn of the last century that feels both modern and foreign. The manners and traditions may have changed since the early 1900s. Still, something about the expectations for women and the challenges of being independent resonates today, not at least given the popularity of a particular summer movie .  Gertrude Robins wrote the first two pieces. She was an actor who turned to writing plays focussing on issues of the day; she died from tuberculosis in 1917, and performances of her works stopped. Her contribution to theatre may have been forgotten, at least until now.  The first piece, Makeshifts, introduces us to the Parker sisters, Caroline and Dolly. Caroline is the older sister with her shy demeanour and sense of duty to her family, which includes caring for their older mother and keeping the house in order. While Dolly is a teacher, she notes that "men fight shy of girls like me. They think we're too clever&

Someone to watch over me: Dangerous Lenses #dangerouslensesplay @VaultFestival

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As I am writing up my thoughts on Dangerous Lenses I can see the neighbours opposite have switched on their lights. They look like they're getting ready to head out. And the people below them are setting the table for dinner. Perhaps the life of a blogger and the recluse at the centre of this piece are converging. The premise is that Ann (Grace Chilton) who lives alone is watching the lives of her neighbours as hers goes by. But when a new tenant and his daughter move in. And the tenant says she has no daughter. Ann starts to obsess about what she saw and didn't see. Written by Brooke Robinson and directed by Melissa Dunne, this monologue is a great exploration of loneliness and obsession in the city. Chilton is great (and a little creepy) as the lonely people-watcher. It's enough to make you reflect on all the times you've made assumptions or watched others. Assuming you've done that sort of thing. Papercut Theatre , presented Just To Get Married at the

Me too thirty years ago: Masterpieces @Finborough

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Long before the #metoo movement called out sexual harassment (and worse), there was Masterpieces by Sarah Daniels. But instead of wearing pink hats or marching, one of the characters pushes a man under the tube.  It’s having its first professional London production in 35 years at the Finborough Theatre . It’s an opportunity to see if the arguments of thirty years ago hold insight into the ones of today. In many ways they do. In others they don’t. The play presents three women living as second class citizens in a first world country. There’s earnest social worker Rowena (Olivia Darnley), her mother (Sophie Doherty) and her friend Yvonne (Tessie Orange Turner).  Set in the era when sex cinemas were part of the West End fabric, on one level it feels quaint with its approach to pornographic magazines. Studies on the effects of pornography have been inconclusive. But here they’re seen as the source of violence and men’s power over women. The men in the piece are either lecherous or ignorant

Jam: Just To Get Married @Finborough

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What's exciting about watching Cicely Hamilton's Just To Get Married is how it captures the spirit of a changing world. The piece is having its first London production in over 100 years at the Finborough Theatre . It's lost none of its bite with its central argument that women are forced into marriage for their own survival. It's the only way they are judged as a success and they don't get the same opportunities as men. It also captures life in Edwardian England where there was a fine line between living comfortably and just about managing. Here there is no safety net. No pensions. And if you're a woman, no right to vote either. Today, while some of the attitudes and priorities may have changed, some of the values may still seem familiar...