Review: Sea Fret, Old Red Lion

“You can’t be too old for this and too young for that”

Is there another fringe theatre that transform itself oh so utterly as the Old Red Lion? You might not think it to look at the Angel pub theatre, with its inflexible seating on two sides, but clever programming and exciting creative thinking has meant that its playing space has constantly and consistently reinvented to great effect (wrestling ring, rooftops. 1930s New York) and new play Sea Fret is no different. 

Designer Rūta Irbīte converts the stage into a section of the Suffolk coastline that writer Tallulah Brown grew up around and under Simon Gethin Thomas’ sun-bright lighting and Daniel Balfour burbling sound design, it looks absolutely gorgeous, transformative in the best possible way. And on this bit of beach, the tangled friendship of Ruby and Lucy plays out a key stress-test of a moment – the summer where they’re 18, where the choice between university and home has to be made. Continue reading “Review: Sea Fret, Old Red Lion”

Review: One Arm, Southwark Playhouse

“The loss of his arm had apparently dulled his senses”

Tennessee Williams’ One Arm started life in the 1940s as a short story, was turned into a screenplay which remained unproduced in the 1960s and now finds itself adapted into a stage play by Moisés Kaufman, receiving its UK premiere directed by Josh Seymour at the Southwark Playhouse. Champion boxer and serving in the American navy, Ollie Olsen life is turned upside down when he loses his arm in a car accident and turning to prostitution, finds himself sucked into a world of increasing darkness and ending up on death row. From his cell, he reflects on his life and the strange contours of its journey.

Kaufman is perhaps best known for The Laramie Project (which Seymour directed in Leicester in 2012) and elements of that patchwork approach remain here, as this play has snippets from the screenplay quoted directly, including scene transitions and settings, upping the metatheatricality around Ollie’s story. But as it progresses, this device loses prominence amongst an increasing sense of Ollie’s fevered dreamworld taking over, allowing Seymour to bring out more of his own theatrical vision as with the incorporation of John Ross’ movement. Continue reading “Review: One Arm, Southwark Playhouse”