Review: A Lie of the Mind, Southwark Playhouse

“Love… its a disease that makes ya’ feel good. While it lasts. Then, when it’s gone, yer worse off than before you caught it”

Despite being blown away by True West, something about Sam Shepard makes me a little wary. I liked rather than loved Fool For Love and ultimately steered clear of the recent Buried Child and it was with a little trepidation that I allowed myself to make my way into A Lie of the Mind, produced here at the Southwark Playhouse by the folks at Defibrillator Theatre. Part of the problem I think lies in my antipathy towards the American dream as a narrative driver, in all honesty I often find I could care less about characters who are constructed around it. So a production has to do a lot to create the kind of context that makes me care and I’d say that director James Hillier just about manages it here, albeit with a couple of reservations.

In rural Montana, a part of the declining American West, the fallout from a particularly vicious episode of the brutally abusive marriage between Jake and Beth plays out. He’s retreated back to his childhood bedroom and she is recovering from her substantial injuries at her family’s cabin and in parallel, we track – through the most abstracted of ways – the dysfunctional family bonds, their violent legacies and the crucially unexpressed love, that have led them to this point and which appear to offer little alternative beyond. Continue reading “Review: A Lie of the Mind, Southwark Playhouse”

Review: Fool For Love, Found111

“You do nothing but repeat yourself”

And so the Found111 experiment comes to an end with this final production in the upper reaches of the former Central St Martins space. Emily Dobbs Productions has put together quite the programme of plays over the last year or so (The Dazzle, Bug, Unfaithful) with some astute casting decisions (Andrew Scott, James Norton, Matthew Lewis) bringing the buzz to the venue from the off. It’s not been unproblematic – its lack of access for one – but one of its issues has now been addressed with the introduction of allocated seating for the final play of this season.

That play is Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love and once again the casting has a hook to it, this time reuniting Ripper Street Series 3 couple Adam Rothenberg (making his London stage debut) and Lydia Wilson as ill-fated lovers Eddie and May. He’s tracked her down to the motel room in the Mojave desert to where she’s escaped and he’s determined to whisk her back to life in Wyoming. But as they squabble and fight, we see that this is a dance that’s been played out before, their’s is the kind of love you can’t live with or without, they just keep on coming back for more. Continue reading “Review: Fool For Love, Found111”

Nominations for 2015-2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards

John Gassner Playwriting Award
Lindsey Ferrentino, Ugly Lies the Bone
Lauren Gunderson, I and You
Martyna Majok, Ironbound
Marco Ramirez, The Royale
Anna Ziegler, Boy

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, The Humans
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Frank Langella, The Father
Mark Strong, A View From the Bridge
Ben Whishaw, The Crucible Continue reading “Nominations for 2015-2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards”

Review: True West, Tricycle

“I love the smell of toast. It makes me feel like anything is possible. Like a beginning”

The list of the NT2000 top 100 plays of the last centuryhas actually proved to be quite useful in ensuring a wider variety in my theatregoing than might otherwise have taken place. With a trusty partner in crime who’s equally determined to tick off the whole list, I’ve seen a few things now that I wouldn’t necessarily have gone to – the notion of a ‘classic’ play isn’t necessarily something that appeals to me in and of itself, I want to be able to make up my own mind thank you very much. But this is a list that knows of what it speaks and this week it sent me to the Tricycle to see Sam Shepard’s 1980 play True West.

And sho’nuff, it’s a stone cold classic. This production premiered at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow last year and whilst it may have taken a while to transfer to London, we should be grateful indeed that it has for Phillip Breen marshals some extraordinary stage work by Eugene O’Hare and Alex Ferns as a pair of dichotomous brothers who represent the split in America itself. The well-put-together Austin is a family man who is an aspiring screenwriter on the cusp of a breakthrough deal in Hollywood, whilst Lee is an altogether more primal spirit, a drifter and a petty thief more at home in the Mojave Desert. When they meet for the first time in five years whilst house-sitting for their ma, sparks inevitably fly. Continue reading “Review: True West, Tricycle”

Nominations for 2010 Lucille Lortel Awards

Outstanding Play
Clybourne Park; Written by Bruce Norris; Produced by Playwrights Horizons
The Brother/Sister Plays; Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney; Produced by The Public Theater in association with McCarter Theatre 
The Orphans’ Home Cycle; Written by Horton Foote; Produced by Signature Theatre Company and Hartford Stage 
The Temperamentals; Written by Jon Marans; Produced by Daryl Roth, Stacy Shane and Martian Entertainment
When The Rain Stops Falling; Written by Andrew Bovell; Produced by Lincoln Center Theater   

Outstanding Musical
Click, Clack, Moo; Book by Billy Aronson, Lyrics by Kevin Del Aguila, Music by Brad Alexander, Based on the book by Doreen Cronin with illustrations by Betsy Lewin; Produced by Theatreworks USA 
Everyday Rapture;Written by Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott; Produced by Second Stage Theatre
The Scottsboro Boys; Book by David Thompson, Lyrics and Music by John Kander and Fred Ebb; Produced by Vineyard Theatre  
The Toxic Avenger; Book and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro, Music and Lyrics by David Bryan, Based on Lloyd Kaufman’s The Toxic Avenger; Produced by Jean Cheever and Tom Polum  
Yank! A WWII Love Story; Music by Joseph Zellnik, Book and Lyrics by David Zellnik; Produced by The York Theatre Company, Maren Berthelsen/Pamela Koslow/Stuart Wilk, Matt Schicker, Hugh Hayes, Jim Kierstead and Sondra Healy/Shidan Majidi Continue reading “Nominations for 2010 Lucille Lortel Awards”