Bridge Theatre new season – excited by new writing or disappointed by lack of diversity?

Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr have announced the opening programme for their The Bridge Theatre venture – the 900-seat commercial venue near to Tower Bridge which marks their re-entry into the London theatre landscape. The first three productions, all booking now, are:

Continue reading “Bridge Theatre new season – excited by new writing or disappointed by lack of diversity?”

Review: Rules for Living, National Theatre

“Let the bedlam begin”

The final play to premiere in Nicholas Hytner’s final season in charge of the National Theatre is Sam Holcroft’s Rules for Living, directed by Marianne Elliott in the Dorfman. Was it a pointed decision to end his reign with a show both written and helmed by a woman, who knows? Either way, it’s always good to see this venue providing such high profile opportunities for the writers it nurtures. Holcroft’s short(ish) Edgar and Annabel played as part of the Double Feature season in 2011 and she was a writer-in-residence here at the NT in 2013, from whence this rather cracking new comedy has emerged. 

And boy is it funny, I don’t think I have laughed this thoroughly and consistently at a play in ages. As someone for whom farcical goings-on too often fall flat, I’m often left bemoaning the fact I’m sitting stony-faced in a sea of hilarity (cf. One Man Two Guvnors et al) but for once I was right with them. Holcroft’s set-up has an extended family coming together for Christmas lunch, an event for which Edith has been preparing since January. She’s looking forward to seeing both her sons, Matthew and Adam, and their partners, and they in turn are keen to see their father who has been in the wars recently.  Continue reading “Review: Rules for Living, National Theatre”

Review: Edgar and Annabel, National Theatre

As mentioned in the main review for Double Feature 1, of which this is the opening play, the less you know about Edgar and Annabel in advance the better, as this really is one of those watching experiences that benefits hugely from being allowed to unfold in front of us without any forewarning. So this is your last warning, I will try to avoid too many spoilers but if you’re thinking about going to see this, stop reading (and then come back afterwards!)

Sam Holcroft’s tightly-crafted new play takes place in a land gripped in a police state, with people under constant surveillance in their own homes, where a brave few are attempting to stand up to the ‘Orwellian establishment’. In their kitchen, young married professionals Edgar and Annabel go about their daily business, but it is soon apparent that not all is what it seems. Continue reading “Review: Edgar and Annabel, National Theatre”

Review: Dancing Bears – Charged, Soho Theatre

Part of the Charged season at Soho Theatre

“You got to show them that you ain’t messin’ around”

I can’t really say too much about Dancing Bears as I heard so very little of it. Sat where I was by the staircase up to the bar, the ambient noise of chatter and the music playing obscured most of the dialogue for me and in a tightly packed space, there was nowhere I could have moved to without causing considerable disruption. Compared to Dream Pill (for which I was sat on the opposite side of the room) where the level of hubbub helped the piece as it was set in the basement of a similar establishment, I could not see the same logic as we were set in a non-specific outdoor scenario where the noise made no sense to me. Additionally, our seats were awkwardly placed so much of the action with the injured Aaron was lost to us too: so all in all it was a shocker of an experience and really rather unsatisfactory.

Which was a shame as from what I could see of the play, it was interestingly set up. Looking at gang violence both through the perspective of young men, as the performers all initially arrive in hoodies playing boys, one by one they strip off the tops to become young women, sisters, girlfriends, comrades of the boys who ostensibly are sick of the lifestyle thrust upon them by men, only to form their own equally damaging little group, capable of just as much horrific violence. Ony Uhiara managed to stand out amongst the din with a physically intimidating performance as both a boy and girl whose lives are dominated by the idea of their gang as ‘family’ and unable to accept anything but total dedication.

Review: Pink, Women, Power and Politics at the Tricycle

 

The fourth play of the Now half of Women, Power and Politics season at the Tricycle Theatre

“It never ceases to surprise me that the critics are usually women”

Pink is set in the green room of a television studio as Kim Keen is preparing to launch a new product line. She is a hugely successful businesswoman but when she receives an unexpected visit from an equally powerful woman Bridget, with a completely different agenda, there’s a faceoff between the two and huge decisions to be made, with the clock ticking away the minutes until Kim is live on air.

The clash between these two formidable women was just electric, each with their own prejudices about the other and what they do and how these perceptions inform so much of our interactions with people. Looking back, this was perfectly exemplified in Amy Loughton’s brief cameo as a production assistant going through the questions for Keen’s television appearance with a barely disguised disdain, the reason for which only becomes apparent once we know just what it is that Kim is promoting. Continue reading “Review: Pink, Women, Power and Politics at the Tricycle”