Review: The Motherhood Project

The likes of Hannah Khalil, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Sarah Niles and Juno Dawson deliver some excellent work in The Motherhood Project

“There’s so much talk of being perfect mums”

Ripping off the rose-tinted glasses and gagging any hint of yummy mummies with a used nappy, The Motherhood Project takes an uncompromising look at motherhood, shining a light on the things that the books don’t, or won’t, tell you. Suhayla El Bushra talks about the way it affects friendship, Jodi Gray and Katherine Kotz herself investigate the maternal instinct or lack thereof, Kalhan Barath speaks of her choice not to have children… Kotz, who is also the curator of the project, has gathered a mixture of monologues and musings, 15 short films in all, all seeking to redefine the modern myths around motherhood.  

There’s eight new monologues here, plus one repurposed one, making this a significant piece of new theatre writing. Jenni Maitland details the traumatising physical effects of childbirth in Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Inside Me, how it can fundamentally alters women’s relationship with their bodies, an issue already skewed by societal pressures of the feminine ‘ideal’. Hannah Khalil also delves deep into the hidden truths of becoming a parent through the medium of the (useless) advice she was given, the lyrical bent of Suited perfectly matched by Caroline Byrne’s expressionist direction and a quietly blistering performance from Emmanuella Cole Continue reading “Review: The Motherhood Project”

Review: Safe

Alexis Gregory’s Safe puts the stories of homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ young people front and centre

“It’s a…phase”

A digital verbatim theatre piece on 

Taking its starting point as the startling statistic that 25% of homeless and at risk young people identify as LGBTQ+, Alexis Gregory’s Safe is a piece of verbatim theatre that allows those very young people to have their stories heard. It’s an arresting and sometimes challenging piece to be sure but a beautiful thread of hope runs throughout, leading us to a place that is uplifting but pragmatically so. 

Safe weaves together the stories of four homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ young people that Gregory met through akt. From stories of self-realisation to cautionary coming-out tales, families who throw you out to families who close ranks to try and keep secrets, there’s a skilful mix of experiences that whilst are full of commonalities, reminds us of how intensely personal one’s own journey is. Continue reading “Review: Safe”

Some musicals news from the last week

News about new musicals in Leicester and Maidstone, plus concerts in the West End and Chiswick 

The line up has been confirmed for the first concert of the series for Monday Night at the Apollo – which will be performed in front of a socially distanced audience at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue on Monday 24 May, and simultaneously livestreamed to viewers at home via the theatre discovery platform Thespie.

Aimie Atkinson (Six, Pretty Woman), Cassidy Janson (&Juliet, Beautiful), Lucie Jones (Waitress, Rent), Cedric Neal (Chess, Motown the Musical) and Julian Ovenden (South Pacific, Downton Abbey) will join on-stage for an intimate night of music and theatrical chat, featuring ovation worthy performances of songs from their favourite genres with host Greg Barnett (Miss Littlewood, Swallows and Amazons). Continue reading “Some musicals news from the last week”

Some theatre news from the last week

New interview series from the NT, Julius Caesar and Sunset Boulevard reappearing digitally and Hushabye Mountain coming to the Hope Mill

© Louise Haywood-Schiefer

The National Theatre announced a new interview series Life in Stages, profiling some of the biggest names in British theatre. The series, which will be free to watch, will launch on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel on Thursday 22 April at 7pm BST with each new episode added at the same time every Thursday.  

The first episode boasts Olivia Colman and Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre Rufus Norris. The second episode on Thursday 29 April will feature Romeo & Juliet co-stars Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley. On Thursday 6 May the third episode puts Adrian Lester and Meera Syal together. Details of further episodes from this series will be announced later this month.  Continue reading “Some theatre news from the last week”

Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #5

Edition #5 of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper takes a more reflective approach to great effect

“Most people do it. Not me, I have a conscience”

The Royal Court’s Living Newspaper continues with edition #5 which feels a little less reactive to the headlines and a little more reflective on the state of the world as we find it today. It looks back, probing into how our history has shaped us but it also identifies the precipice of the current moment and how, more than ever, so very much is at stake. 

The quiet fury of Dalia Taha’s A Warning takes aim at Israeli border policies through the medium of books, Kayla Meikle’s devastatingly contained performance a real stand out. And Zia Ahmed’s elegiac scene/unscene finds a brutal poetry in its takedown of the systemic racism in the theatrical establishment, skewering good liberal intentions perfectly. Continue reading “Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #5”

Review: Talking Gods, Arrows & Traps online

Talking Gods sees Arrows & Traps move online with a creative hybrid of theatre and film hoiking Ancient Greek mythology into the modern age

“Do you know what comes up first when you type Zeus into Google?”

The world of Greek mythology has long proved fruitful fodder for playwrights and it is to here that Ross McGregor has turned for his season of modern Greek myths – Talking Gods. And whilst the titles of these five digital plays might resonate – Persephone, Orpheus, PygmalionAphrodite and Icarus – the approach that McGregor’s writing takes means that these characters are refracted in sometimes significantly different ways. It’s a wise move, which proves something of a commentary on the act of myth-making as well, an acknowledgement that to remain relevant one needs must adapt whether celestial or commonplace.

So the art that bewitches Pygmalion so becomes an online avatar in the video game he is creating (a superb performance from Edward Spence), Ares may be the god of war but not even he can outrun PTSD here (edgy brilliance from Buck Braithwaite), Icarus is worried less about wings than the family secrets that are pouring out following the death of his father. Recasting the stories this way also allows a more direct way for the plays to speak to contemporary issues – family atomisation, climate change, identity struggles and isolation in so many different forms. Continue reading “Review: Talking Gods, Arrows & Traps online”

Review: Disenchanted

Musical revue Disenchanted takes a deeper look at the lives of Disney princesses and whether happy ever after is all that

“One more once upon a time and I swear I’ll go insane”

Revisiting fairytale endings and reclaiming female historical narratives will be familiar to fans of Into the Woods and SIX but Dennis T Giacino’s Disenchanted attempts to tackle both in an ambitious if patchy musical comedy. Returning to some of the characters so familiar from our storybooks, the show gives them new voice to explain what life as a ‘princess’ is really and how the stories we’ve been told don’t necessarily reflect ‘reality’.

In some ways, this is powerfully effective. You can’t help but hear echoes of Thandiwe Newton’s recent decision in Badroulbadour’s story of how her name and ethnicity were changed in order to become a secondary character in Aladdin. Or nod at Mulan’s recognition that the reason she’s one of the only princesses not to end up with a partner is because she’s a lesbian. Throw in commentary on typical cup size and waist measurements and you see how much social conditioning has gone on through this mode of storytelling. Continue reading “Review: Disenchanted”

News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #4

Bukky Bakray, Stacey Gregg, Tanika Gupta, Ellie Kendrick, Sabrina Mahfouz, Nathaniel Martello-White, Eoin McAndrew, Caitlin McEwan, Rachel Nwokoro, Annie Siddons, Stef Smith, Caro Black Tam, Ed Thomas, and Michael Wynne will write Edition 4 of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper.

A sideways look at the people who govern us. A space for protest. Because we can’t party without protest and we can’t heal without it either.

Edition 4 will feature Rishi Sunak as your romantic Indian soap hero, sign language interpreters prepping for a Covid briefing at the Northern Irish Assembly, a teenager watching the End SARS protests play out on Instagram, a love letter to Nicola Sturgeon, an internet boy who becomes a museum piece, an unravelling of Peruvian independence day celebrations and a box office supervisor who tells it like it is. Continue reading “News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #4”

Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #3

The third edition of Royal Court’s Living Newspaper moves online only, with some seriously fierce political writing this time around

“You want me stuffing my face in Pret A Manger so your city can feel real again”

The flexible and modular nature of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper series means that it is sufficiently adaptable to cope with ever-changing lockdown restrictions. Previous editions had the option of being consumed either digitally or in-person at Sloane Square but this third edition is online only. #3

As a multi-authored, rapid-response foray into theatre-making, structured loosely around the section of a newspaper, it possesses an up-to-the-minute urgency that is rarely captured seen onstage. Pithy soundbites from Boris Johnson are torn apart (in the corking Crocus of Hope that forms the first page), the hollowness of Emily in Paris is exposed, and there’s variety in the vitriol too. Continue reading “Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #3”

Review: Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre via Sky Arts

Jessie Buckley is astonishing as the National Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet makes the jump from stage to screen to extraordinary effect

“What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?”

By rights, we should have seen Simon Godwin’s Romeo and Juliet at the National Theatre last summer but the stars realigned for these star-cross’d lovers and now we have the gift of the National’s first ever film. Emily Burns’ sleek adaptation has been reworked for the camera and with DP Tim Sidell reimaginging the possibilities of working onstage, something truly cinematic yet innately theatrical has emerged.

With a supporting company (plucked from my dreams) that included Deborah Findlay, Lucian Msamati, and Tamsin Greig, I was pleasantly surprised that the young leads lived up to their billing with two fine, emotionally wrought performances. Josh O’Connor’s Romeo carries the weight of the world on his shoulders but flickers beautifully into life upon the stolen touch of fingertips with Juliet. And Jessie Buckley as Juliet shimmers with luminosity with the intensity of the feelings that take her over. Continue reading “Review: Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre via Sky Arts”