Review: VOLTA Festival 2015, Arcola Theatre

“The problem with Hannes is…”

One can always rely on the Arcola to bring interesting writing to light and in the form of the VOLTA International Festival, Artistic Director Andrea Ferran has managed that four times over, bringing together new work by four celebrated international writers, translated into English for the first time – Christopher Chen, Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Ewald Palmetshofer and Roland Schimmelpfennig. With four directors, James Perkins designing and an ensemble covering all the shows, it proved to be a fascinating festival and one which deserves more attention than it received.

Caught by San Francisco-based Christopher Chen twists wonderfully around notions of truth and fiction as three separate but interlinked scenes toy with how art plays with and changes under our perceptions. Cressida Brown’s direction cleverly plays up how we all find our own truth in everything, no matter how the subject is approached, preconceived notions shaping us even as they’re deconstructed and always, always making us think about what we’ve just seen. Chen takes no prisoners in the complexity of some of his thinking but it’s fascinating stuff indeed. Continue reading “Review: VOLTA Festival 2015, Arcola Theatre”

Review: The Hundred We Are, Yard Theatre

“Forget how to sit, that’s all we have to do”

I was introduced to Hobo Theatre earlier this year with their production of Hunger set in a bakery but The Hundred We Are sees them occupy a more traditional theatre space at the Yard in Hackney Wick. This award-winning play by Swedish writer Jonas Hassen Khemiri, translated here by Frank Perry, is a bit of a challenge though as three women sift through their memories and experiences, asking questions about the many different lives that we can and do live, and also pondering those that we do not choose.

For the trio, named enigmatically 1, 2 and 3, are all at different stages in the life of a woman and discuss, debate, disagree and engage in dialogue with each other, restating and rebuilding the personal history that makes them who they are, or even who she is. As fragments of the same person, Ida Bonnast’s fresh and fiery young’un, Katherine Manner’s brittle, dissatisfied middle-aged misery, and Karen Archer’s pragmatic voice of experience tussle and tug against each other, only slowly realising how much they need each other. Continue reading “Review: The Hundred We Are, Yard Theatre”