Review: Like A Fishbone, Bush Theatre

“How could there be a meaning there?!”

The timing of an opening of a new show is everything: later this week I’m going to the Tricycle to see Then and Now, their Women and Politics multi-part extravaganza at a time when the new cabinet has fewer women than ever so it feels even more appropriate. Such immediate relevance can be a double-edged sword though as Like A Fishbone, the new play by Anthony Weigh opening at the Bush Theatre about the memorialisation of a school shooting, comes less than a week after the tragic events in West Cumbria and whilst not directly connected, there were moments when it felt really quite close to the bone.

Like A Fishbone takes its title from the Robert Lowell poem For the Union Dead referring to the memorial for the war dead in Boston as this play examines what is appropriate when it comes to dealing with the legacy of a tragic event. A leading architect has been commissioned to create a memorial for the victims of a terrible crime, all the children of a village murdered in their schoolhouse, and she is preparing to unveil her work to the public. When a blind woman somehow makes her way into the office where the model of the memorial is being kept ready for delivery, the scene is set for a confrontation between the two as it turns out she is the mother of one of the children who died in the attack. They then challenge each other about what constitutes a fitting monument to the dead, what it means to be a mother and the relative merits of clinging onto faith over the stark acceptance of the brutal truth. It’s heavy-hitting stuff, almost claustrophobic in its one room, real-time setting, but genuinely thrilling. Continue reading “Review: Like A Fishbone, Bush Theatre”

Review: Rope, Almeida Theatre with Q+A

“People argue about the queerest things nowadays”

Perhaps an odd choice for a festive show, Rope at the Almeida Theatre is a dark tale of murder, abusive relationships and a dinner party (which I guess is what Christmas is about for some people…) Two Oxford students, Brandon and Granillo murder a third for the existential thrill of committing the ‘perfect murder’, they then invite people, including the dead boy’s father, round for supper, which is served on the chest where the body is stashed. Only one guest begins to suspect something is amiss, Rupert Cadell, a WWI veteran now a world-weary Nietzschean and over the course of the evening, the men try to argue the case for their intellectual superiority and play the dangerous game of trying to get away with murder.

The most arresting thing about this production upon entering the theatre is that it is presented in the round. This is a first for the Almeida and it is highly effective. It gives the real sense of being in the room with the protagonists and also has the visually pleasing effect of placing the chest in the centre of the action, both physically and metaphorically. This worked beautifully in the scenes which had several of the characters on stage, but I felt that when there was just two or three of them, more could have been done to utilise this format: the final face-off scene in particular was very static and played as if on a normal stage. This worked fine for us in our central seats but people to the side would have just seen the back of one or other of the main characters for the final 20 minutes of the play.

Continue reading “Review: Rope, Almeida Theatre with Q+A”