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”
Leading UK artists including Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Athena Stevens and Anya Reiss will join Juno Dawson, Lemn Sissay and Naomi Sheldon among others for The Motherhood Project. Fifteen short films will explore the guilt, joy, absurdity and taboo surrounding motherhood in this online festival of dramatic monologues and personal reflections. The films will be available on the Battersea Arts Centre website from Monday 19th April; all ticket sales will include a 50% donation to Refuge.
Curator Katherine Kotz invited writers, artists and technicians to join forces and donate their time to create exciting new pieces to support vulnerable adults and children affected by the pandemic. Interrogating the relationship between parent and child, autonomy and responsibility, dramatic pieces were contributed by Irenosen Okojie, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Hannah Khalil, Anya Reiss, Suhayla El Bushra in addition to Naomi Sheldon, E.V Crowe, Jodi Gray, and Katherine Kotz. Continue reading “News: Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Athena Stevens, Anya Reiss, Juno Dawson and Lemn Sissay among the line-up for The Motherhood Project”
The Seagull full cast alongside Emilia Clarke announced
Emilia Clarke had previously been announced to play Nina in Anya Reiss’ adaptation of The Seagull.
Joining Clarke in the cast will be Danny Ashok as Medvedenko, Robert Glenister as Sorin, Tom Rhys Harries as Trigorin, Daniel Monks as Konstantin, Tamzin Outhwaite as Polina, Patrick Robinson as Dorn, Seun Shote as Shamrayev, Indira Varma as Arkadina and Sophie Wu as Masha.
So many of the recommendations for shows to see next year focus on the West End. And for sure, I’m excited to catch big ticket numbers like All About Eve, Come From Away, and Waitress but I wanted to cast my eye a little further afield, so here’s my top tips for shows on the London fringe (plus one from the Barbican) and across the UK.
1 Medea, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam at the Barbican
Simon Stone’s sleekly contemporary recasting of Euripides is straight up amazing. Anchored by a storming performance from Marieke Heebink, it is as beautiful and brutal as they come. It’s also one of the few plays that has legit made me go ‘oh no’ out loud once a particular penny dropped. My review from 2014 is here but do yourself a favour and don’t read it until you’ve seen it.
2 Macbeth, Watermill Theatre
2018 saw some disappointing Macbeths and I was thus ready to swear off the play for 2019. But the Watermill Ensemble’s decision to tackle the play will certainly break that resolve, Paul Hart’s innovative direction of this spectacular actor-musician team will surely break the hoodoo…
3 Noughts and Crosses, Derby Theatre, and touring
Pilot Theatre follow on from their strong Brighton Rock with this Malory Blackman adaptation by Sabrina Mahfouz, a Young Adult story but one which promises to speak to us all. Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2019”
“This is starting to get offensive”
Proving herself once, twice, three times a lady Chekhov adapter, Anya Reiss now finds herself in the slightly odd position where (I think) she’s had more of her adaptations produced than her original writing – it’s certainly one way of casting off the mantle of ‘saviour of new writing’ with which she has often been blessed/cursed. I didn’t catch her well-received take on Spring Awakening for Headlong earlier this year but it is reimagining the work of Chekhov that has really fired her mojo – recent versions of The Seagull and Three Sisters are now followed by an equally modern Uncle Vanya for the St James Theatre.
And whilst I’d love to say these adaptation are going from strength to strength, for me it is much more a case of diminishing returns. Moving The Seagull to a contemporary Isle of Man chimed well but Three Sisters suffered a little (well, a lot) in the shift to a modern British embassy and so too does Uncle Vanya here, relocated to a Lincolnshire farm in the modern day. The sense of crippling stagnation, of an entire way of life on the precipice is present but none of the deep emotion or eternal tragedy of the characters that should elevate its concerns to the universal. Continue reading “Review: Uncle Vanya, St James Theatre”
“Everyone’s here from the UK but it’s always the Cotswolds or Scotland or something so nice to have an actual…we’re moving back there you see”
What is it that draws writers to adaptation? Anya Reiss’ extraordinary debut of two cracking plays for the Royal Court has been followed by versions of 2 Chekhovs and Wedekind’s Spring Awakening for Headlong which is currently touring. The first Chekhov saw The Seagull transplanted to a modern day Isle of Man for the Southwark Playhouse and now for the same theatre, she has tackled Three Sisters which is located “near a British Embassy, overseas, now”.
Which is all very well but in a play that is predicated on the desire to return home, there appears to be no earthly reason why any of the Prozorova sisters – the modern women that they are here – can’t just book the next flight to the London they left just over a decade ago. Instead they languish in the non-specific country suggested to be somewhere we might have recently invaded, where their father served as a diplomat until his death, stuck because he sold their old family home. Continue reading “Review: Three Sisters, Southwark Playhouse”
“I always wanted to be a writer”
With an iPod blaring out tunes from the likes of Cat Power and Animal Collective, characters wearing battered Converse and slim-fit trousers and a wannabe writer bashing away at a laptop, it is clear that Anya Reiss’ adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull is aiming to demonstrate the timelessness of the Russian playwright. But this reinterpretation, directed by Russell Bolam, strips away too much without establishing a strong enough sense of its own identity.
Elements of the play sparkle under Reiss’ touch, in unexpected places. Emily Dobbs’ vivid Masha is a cracking portrayal of the disillusioned young adulthood that is the by-product of rural isolation, as she longs for the moody passion of Joseph Drake’s immature would-be playwright Konstantin yet finds herself resigned to the duller safety net of Ben Moor’s well-observed schoolteacher Medvedenko. And there’s a neat touch too in the Act 2 opening sequence that speaks so much about how deeply she can feel. Continue reading “Review: The Seagull, Southwark Playhouse”
“Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional”
Entering the Royal Court upstairs for Anya Reiss’ second play The Acid Test is a little delight as Paul Wills’ design of grimy corridors winds round the space to lead us into the small London flat that three girls in their early 20s share. Reiss’ first play Spur of the Moment was lauded with awards so there’s a certain level of expectation here that lies on her young shoulders that is met in most, if not quite all, part.
Reiss’ gift is clearly in characterisation and the creation of believable and effective dialogue. As we’re flung headlong into the world of these flatmates, there is great wit and huge likeability generated from the off as displayed by Phoebe Fox as the slightly dippy but hilarious Ruth with her boyfriend dramas and Vanessa Kirby’s self-possessed Dana who has her own issues balancing her work and sex life. Their other flatmate is Jessica whose arrival back at the flat with her father Jim, who has been kicked out by his wife, precipitates the long night of drinking and soul-searching that makes up this play. Continue reading “Review: The Acid Test, Royal Court”
THE SPOTLIGHT BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Zoe Wanamaker – All My Sons at the Apollo
Helen McCrory – The Late Middle Classes at the Donmar Warehouse
Jenny Jules – Ruined at the Almeida
Kim Cattrall – Private Lives at the Vaudeville
Nancy Carroll – After the Dance at the National, Lyttelton
Tracie Bennett – End of the Rainbow at Trafalgar Studios
THE SPOTLIGHT BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
David Suchet – All My Sons at the Apollo
Benedict Cumberbatch – After the Dance at the National, Lyttelton
Matthew Macfadyen – Private Lives at the Vaudeville
Rory Kinnear – Hamlet at the National, Olivier & Measure for Measure at the Almeida
Simon Russell Beale – Deathtrap at the Noel Coward & London Assurance at the National, Olivier
Toby Stephens – The Real Thing at the Old Vic Continue reading “2011 What’s On Stage Award nominations”