August casting update

 

Linda Bassett and John Heffernan have been cast in Caryl Churchill’s new play What If If Only, which will be directed by James Macdonald. With set design by Miriam Buether, lighting design by Prema Mehta, sound design by Christopher Shutt and assistant direction from Grace Duggan.

What If If Only will run in the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from Wednesday 29 September 2021 – Saturday 23 October 2021. Performances run Monday – Saturday at 6pm, plus Friday 8, 15 & 22 October 2021 at 10pm. The running time is a lush 14 minutes. Continue reading “August casting update”

The finalists of The Offies 2020

Offies Awards - Off West End Theatre Awards

The finalists for the 2020 Offies (for performances in 2019) have been announced and congratulations to all 89 mentioned below. A tip of the hat too to the 400+ nominees who you can find here.

DESIGN

Design: Costume
Adrian Gee, Amour, Charing Cross Theatre
Emily Bestow, 42nd Street, Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Hannah Wolfe , Great Expectations, National Youth
Theatre, Southwark Playhouse

Design: Set
Diego Pitarch, Night of the Living Dead – Live!,
Pleasance
Justin Williams, Whistle Down the Wind, Union
Theatre
Lee Newby, The View UpStairs, Soho Theatre
Rachael Ryan, Thrill Me, Hope Theatre

Design: Sound
Benjamin Grant, The War of the Worlds, New Diorama
Lex Kosanke, Hunger, Arcola
Matt Eaton, All’s Well That Ends Well, Guildford Bard,
Jermyn Street Theatre
Xana, Blood Knot, Orange Tree

Design: Lighting
Christopher Nairne, Preludes, Southwark Playhouse
Clancy Flynn, An Act of God, Vaults
Jessica Hung Han Yun, Equus, English Touring Theatre,
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Nic Farman, Night of the Living Dead – Live!, Pleasance

Design: Video
Andrzej Goulding, The Unreturning, Theatre Royal
Stratford East
Ben Bull, Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre
Douglas Baker, Moby Dick, Jack Studio Theatre Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2020”

Review: Effigies of Wickedness, Gate Theatre

“The world’s gone nuts, so best of luck”

Only a quickie for this as I didn’t make it until the end of the run. Effigies of Wickedness is exactly how you’d picture a musical at the Gate Theatre going and all the better for it, we need spaces led by the daring of the likes of Ellen McDougall to cock a sideways glance at how British theatre is run and gently suggest the many ways in which it could be better.

Running time: 100 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Helen Murray
Effigies of Wickedness is booking at the Gate Theatre until 9th June

Review: Trust, Gate Theatre

Trust, Gate Theatre, London

Jude Christian offers up something excitingly experimental with the German play Trust at the Gate Theatre in West London

“I have to keep being original here and that’s really hard work
I CAN’T BE FUNNY AND ORIGINAL ALL THE TIME”

Between the Mandarin lessons and the sleep masks, the tequila shots and extended yoga, there’s an awful lot going on in Trust. A hell of a lot. But given that the last time Jude Christian directed a show here at the Gate she put two actual piglets onstage, it should come as little surprise that she’s challenging us once again. Plus the play’s German, so of course it’s batshit.

From the minute you walk into the Gate, having been handed your guide to the art installation and gingerly stepping over the Roomba that’s beavering away, we know we’re not in Kansas any more. Or Notting Hill. Or anywhere the likes of Billers or DomCav will consider safe. And over the next 100 minutes, Christian experiments with this theatrical space in breathtaking ways, performing in the play as well as a kind of guide on its bewildering path. Continue reading “Review: Trust, Gate Theatre”

The finalists of The Offies 2018

The finalists of the The Offies 2018 have been announced and as ever, there’s much of interest there, in the choices made and the breadth of Off West End theatre celebrated. Play-wise, I’m delighted at the love for The Revlon Girl and An Octoroon here, nice to see the Bunker’s Eyes Closed Ears Covered rewarded too, plus Will Pinchin’s work in Frankenstein.

With the musicals, I’m not down with the love for Promises Promises, an ill-judged revival that added nothing to the conversation (and even less in these #MeToo times) and I’m disappointed that none of the boys of Yank! were recognised. The rest of the Southwark Playhouse’s spectacular year does get the appropriate plaudits though, with Superhero, The Life and Working all getting multiple nominations.

And lastly, at times it can seem like all you have to do is sing in your bathroom and you get an Offie nomination ? so it is interesting to see how the numbers break down, albeit somewhat vaguely. These 80 or so finalists have apparently been whittled down from over 350 nominations from over 190 shows – there’s clearly just a lot of Offies love to share. Should you wish to join in said sharing at the IRL award ceremony on Sunday 4th March at The Albany, Deptford, you can buy tickets here.

Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2018”

Review: Assata Taught Me, Gate Theatre

“That boy is a revolutionary, he just doesn’t know it”

Frankie Bradshaw’s design for Assata Taught Me at the Gate Theatre is nothing short of wondrous, with its turquoise walls patched with corrugated iron, faded tiles on the floor. Along with Jack Weir’s lighting, all the colourful character of old Havana is evoked, along with the complex history right up to its contemporary situation. And it is in the modern day there that we find Assata Shakur, a woman who has the infamy of being the first woman to make the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

Shakur (mother of Tupac FYI) really does live in political exile in Cuba but Kalungi Ssebandeke’s play is a work of fiction, imagining the relationship that develops between her and a young law student to whom she starts to teach English. Kenneth Omole’s Fanuco isn’t aware of who his teacher is, the backstory with which we’re briefly acquainted as the show opens but as their lessons progress, it is increasingly clear how diametrically opposed the pair are. Continue reading “Review: Assata Taught Me, Gate Theatre”

Re-review: Grounded, Gate Theatre

“You can’t hide from the eye in the sky, my children”

Grounded ranked in my top five plays of 2013 when it first played the Gate, and I enjoyed it so much that I went back when it came back in 2014. And could I resist one more chance to see Lucy Ellinson’s extraordinary performance in George Brant’s ever-acute one-woman show, could I heck! Directed by Chris Haydon, Grounded cuts deeply into the psychology of outsourcing military decision-making to remote drone pilots, particularly this one soldier who new motherhood calls into question her previously easily gung-ho mentality. Definitely recommended.

Running time: 70 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 25th March

Review: The Convert, Gate Theatre

“There’s no place for a highly educated African woman here”

Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed was the best thing I saw in 2015 so the prospect of seeing her 2012 play The Convert, also at the Gate Theatre, was a joyous one indeed. And once again, Gurira turns her focus to the African continent, exploring the kind of history that I’m pretty sure is rarely featured in the majority of Western schoolrooms. The year is 1896 and the place is Rhodesia, the country now known as Zimbabwe, and The Convert takes a look at colonialism there from the inside out.

Chilford may be a native of this territory but taken from his family as a young boy, he has been moulded into an approximation of ‘an English gentleman’, the only black Roman Catholic priest in the area and tasked with the job of converting the population to the ways of their colonial masters. On the run from an attempt at forced marriage, Jekesai finds sanctuary under Chilford’s tutelage, renamed as Ester and quickly becoming his star pupil but as she comes to understand just how much she’s expected to give up, she’s left to question if there’s any safe haven at all. Continue reading “Review: The Convert, Gate Theatre”