Review: Grotty, Bunker Theatre

Lesbian subculture is put under the microscope in Grotty at the Bunker Theatre, anchored by an idiosyncratic performance from Izzy Tennyson

“There’s got to be another lesbian like you”

There’s something a little extraordinary about Izzy Tennyson’s central performance at the heart of Grotty. Her Rigby is mesmerising, a young woman finding her way through the London lesbian scene, characterised as an almost grotesque clown, clambering over every inch of the Bunker Theatre, hunched over, tongue lapping, words gabbled, a striking presence indeed.

As strong as she is though, this isn’t a one-woman show and Tennyson’s idiosyncratic manner (she is also the writer here) doesn’t always sit easily within the wider world of the play she has created. The relationships she crashes in and out of, the hookups she searches out, the friendships she abuses – all are more conventionally conceived, insofar as this slice of lesbian subculture could be considered conventional. Continue reading “Review: Grotty, Bunker Theatre”

TV Review: Humans Series 1

“You’re just a stupid machine aren’t you”

I wasn’t going to write Humans up but I’ve spoken so enthusiastically about it with several people since I watched the whole thing in three days and so thought I’d better recommend it even further. If there’s any justice in the world, Gemma Chan will win all sorts of awards for her performance as Anita (later Mia), the Synth or human-like android that has become the must-have accessory for domestic service in this parallel present-day universe. 

Anita is bought by the Hawkins family who soon start to twig that something isn’t right in the way she is behaving and as Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley’s drama continues over its 8 episodes, we come to see that the lines between human and machine have been considerably blurred by technological advancement and its potential to be exploited identified as a key priority for the nefarious powers-that-be.

Continue reading “TV Review: Humans Series 1”

Review: Macbeth, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Ambassadors Theatre

“If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly”

There’s something a little ironic about NYT’s assurance that this is the “only West End showing of Macbeth this autumn” when I will have seen 3 productions of the Scottish play this month. Sure, the muddy paths of Clapham Common and the dusty hall of the London Welsh Centre might fall a little short of the shabby chic of the Ambassadors Theatre but it is a clear indication of the enduring popularity of this programming choice which forms one third of a rep season which also includes Private Peaceful and a modern telling of Dorian Gray in Selfie.

And sure enough, Ed Hughes’ concise adaptation offers up the best of the bunch for the season, the bold thematic vision working well and releasing the play from any dusty RP connotations. From the outset as Grace Chilton borrows the spirit of Alan Cumming’s iconic Emcee to the haunting presence of Lady Macbeth’s ghost during a key moment, Hughes’ liberating attitude (he also directs) makes this a rapid-fire success which pays its own tribute to the WWI anniversary as well as crackling with youthful energy. Continue reading “Review: Macbeth, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Ambassadors Theatre”

Review: Selfie, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Ambassadors Theatre

“Ugliness is unfortunate. Beauty is unforgivable”

Written and devised by Brad Birch along with the company of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain’s rep season (this is the second year they’ve ventured into the West End with a triple bill), Selfie is Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray reimagined for the iPad generation. Transplanted from the whirl of Victorian bohemia to the vacuous poseurs of Hoxton’s hipsters, the portrait of this Dorian (here a woman) is captured digitally but in other respects, largely follows the downwards spiral of Wilde’s original.

It is grindingly hard to care about Mountford, Shenton is grim and gruelling, Gardner has mediocre material – it is fair to say that Selfie didn’t really click with the critics but in all honesty, I couldn’t see quite what provoked such particular ire. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a fair deal that doesn’t work – especially in relation to the source material – but that this company (made up of 18 to 25 year olds) is being empowered to devise theatre for West End audiences feels like something to be celebrated and if they’re not allowed to take risks now, then when? Continue reading “Review: Selfie, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Ambassadors Theatre”