Review: All Quiet on the Western Front, VAULT Festival

Incognito Theatre Company present a powerful and physical take on All Quiet on the Western Front at the VAULT Festival

“We were eighteen years old, and just learning to love the world and being in it, and then we had to shoot it to bits.”

A sensitive and intelligent choice underpins this deeply moving adaptation of Erich Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front by Incognito Theatre Company. Though the narrative follows the experience of German trench warfare, the company speak in English accents and so you can’t help but feel for all of the many millions who were killed, regardless of their nationality.

The five classmates who are recruited from their schoolroom and shipped off to the frontline with just the scarcest bit of shoddy training could be from anywhere – patriotic feeling knows no borders – and the empty promises they receive sound the same in any language. Nobody was home for Christmas. What sustained them, as much as it could, was the camaraderie of their fellow soldiers. Continue reading “Review: All Quiet on the Western Front, VAULT Festival”

Film Review: Twelfth Night (2018)

With Sheila Atim playing both Viola and Sebastian, this film of Twelfth Night has many a highlight even if it is ultimately overlong

“You will hang like an icicle on a Dutchman’s beard”

As a debut for both Shanty Productions and Adam Smethurst as screenwriter and director, this Twelfth Night is an intriguing thing. At a more than healthy 2 hours 45 minutes, its slavish adherence to the text can feel like a bit of a challenge as it occasionally feels like it is moving at a glacial pace. On the other hand, it has Sheila Atim doing double duty as shipwrecked twins Viola and Sebastian and so it proves a great showcase for her.

Filmed over a single month in West Sussex on an economical budget, this contemporary imagining of Shakespeare’s tale of mistaken identities and affections gone haywire benefits from some astute casting. Shalini Peiris’s Olivia is younger than the average but it’s a choice that makes sense of her impetuous nature, and leaning into Antony Bunsee’s experience makes for a compelling Malvolio, the unlikeliness of any relationship between them all the more stark for once. Continue reading “Film Review: Twelfth Night (2018)”

Review: Snapshot, Hope Theatre

“I wouldn’t know what to do in a darkroom”

Budding (and broke) photographer James and his relationship dramas lie at the heart of George Johnston’s new play Snapshot. His barely-out banker boyfriend Daniel pays the lion’s share of the bills but has problems sharing his feelings, his new benefactor Frank has as many designs on being a sugar daddy as a genuine supporter, and old college friend and aspiring actor Olivia can’t keep away either. 

Structurally, there’s an interesting idea in the play as short scene follows short scene – flashing like the titular snapshots – and providing a non-linear jigsaw to piece together. But James McAndrew’s production loses it in the transitions, more interlude-like than immediate and highlighting the fragmented fragility of the storytelling. Continue reading “Review: Snapshot, Hope Theatre”