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Showing posts with the label Old Red Lion Theatre

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The male gaze: Turning the screw

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It's been a while since trips to the theatre. I've been busy. But it's nice to see that it's the creative process that is at the heart of Kevin Kelly's Turning the Screw. And what gives rise to it. It's a dramatisation of the creative process leading up to composer Benjamin Britten's premiere of his opera, The Turning of the Screw. With deadlines approaching, Britten seems stuck over melodies and unsure about completing the piece for its summer premiere. But the selection of twelve-year-old choirboy David Hemmings in the leading role of Miles within the opera is the spark that motivates him to complete the piece. And his presence may stir other feelings, too. It's currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre .  Britten's fascination with young boys has been the subject of a detailed book, Britten's Children. The book suggests that Britten saw himself as a young boy of 13. It's almost as if he saw himself as Peter Pan, albeit if Peter Pan was a

I know what you did last summer: Last Orders @ORLTheatre

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The Old Red Lion Theatre during the summer months is hot and oppressive at the best of times. But theatre troupe The Knock Knock Club decided to hold a seance and a ghost hunt at the venue to see if there was any truth the number of hauntings that people have reported. There's been a pub on the site of the Old Red Lion since 1415. Over the years, there's been reported sightings of spirits of the non-alcoholic kind.  There are enough witness accounts of a ghost on every floor of the venue. There's the ghost who likes the drama (but not lost Arthur Miller plays) on the theatre floor. There's the ghost at the bar level that wants to fling glassware and frighted the resident dog. And below the bar at cellar level, there's something like the gateway to the underworld that freaks everyone out. The show is part documentary about what the troupe did over the summer and part unearthing bizarre facts about the Old Red Lion. It's funny and intriguing as the te

Previews: Danelaw @ORLTheatre

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Written fifteen years ago as an absurdist comedy, a portrayal of an attempt by a far-right group to set up a white-supremacist state in East Anglia could today be seen more like a documentary of today’s troubling times. But there is nothing like a funny and timely reminder of the deadly threat that far-right groups still pose to this country.   Partially inspired by the neo-Nazi group Combat 18’s attempts to set up such a homeland in the 1990s, it follows an MI6 agent’s attempt to infiltrate the group.  But a funny thing happens on the way to set up a white-supremacist enclave as a gruesome murder is committed on some waste ground in Harlow. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day either. But Peter Hamilton’s play, Danelaw is currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 5 October. See it and laugh nervously... 

The man with the banana: Flinch @ORLTheatre

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Flinch is a play about gender roles. But it’s also a timely reminder that you date actor-writers at your own peril. As you never know if you’re going to be the material for their next piece. Emma Hemingford writes and co-stars in this piece about modern relationships which is having its debut at the Old Red Lion Theatre . She plays Jess, an actor of sorts struggling with auditions and lecherous directors. Mark (Joseph Reed) works in the city as a trader. Just as they move in together into his Bethnal Green flat, an incident happens. A violent mugger appears and threatens them both. Mark flinches (or according to Jess screams and runs away, leaving her alone). It turns out it was a bit of a joke since the mugger was brandishing a banana (and wearing a pretty camp t-shirt). But this sets in motion a series of innocent conversations that lead into darker territory about the disappointments they have with each other.  The piece works at it’s best during these conversations. And i

Game play: Lamplighters @ORLTheatre

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The world of spies as depicted in John Le Carre novels seems to be an unlikely source of amusement. All that drinking, bureaucracy and lying. But in Lamplighters it’s really a backdrop for some inspired improvisation and audience participation.  Led by Neil Connolly as the spymaster, he’s living out a childhood dream to play spies... With a bunch of random audience members.  It’s an immersive theatre experience. Which means that when you enter The Old Red Lion Theatre you can expect to be part of the entertainment.  But only if you want to.  After he’s finished chatting you up at the start (and sizing you up), there’s a slightly unconvincing mystery to solve, villains to find and stop. And a secret briefcase. And he needs the help of the audience to make it happen. And get laughs. This concept works well in making the ordinary seem hilarious. Assuming there’s always the right balance of weird and adventurous audience members to make the show hilarious every night.  On my night the aud

Those were the days: Plastic @ORLTheatre

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Even if the subject matter and setting is a bit grim, there’s a lot to like about Plastic. Kenneth Emson’s gritty and evocative play about growing up in Essex. School can be the best of times and the worst of times. And here is a tale about school life that defines and haunts two characters in the years to come. It’s currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre . Coming of age can come quickly. Girlfriends, peer pressure, schoolyard beatings. And football of course. The piece mixes drama and performance poetry to tell the story of young people forced to grow up.  There’s Lisa (Madison Clare - making her professional debut) with her blazer and bold personality. Kev (Mark Weinman) the former captain of the football team who scored the winning goal in the final, but who can’t seem to make much of a living now. Ben (Thomas Coombes) who always got beaten up and now’s an accountant. And his loyal mate Jack (Louise Greatorex) who will stick up for him no matter what. The cast work well to br