Review: Doubt – a Parable, Southwark Playhouse

“What do you do when you’re not sure?”

John Patrick Shanley’s play Doubt, a Parable comes lauded with garlands – Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Hollywood adaptation with none other than Meryl Streep – so it must be a modern classic right? But, written in 2004, with all of the hindsight of how cases of historical sexual abuse in the Catholic church have been (mis-)handled, I find its dramatic ambivalence hard to stomach.

Shanley sidestepped the issue by setting his play in 1964 where a scandal is brewing at the St Nicholas Church School in the Bronx. Or is it? Ferociously strict principal Sister Aloysius is convinced that there is inappropriateness occurring between parish priest Father Flynn and the school’s first black pupil, but her views are coloured by her loathing of Flynn’s modernising ways. Continue reading “Review: Doubt – a Parable, Southwark Playhouse”

A whole load of Friday casting news

I want to be able to resist anything to do with Alan Ayckbourn but the cast and creatives for Chichester’s production of The Norman Conquests is making it very hard indeed. Wunderkind director Blanche McIntyre is at the helm of a company for the trilogy of plays that consists of Jonathan Broadbent, Trystan Gravelle, Sarah Hadland, John Hollingworth, Hattie Ladbury and Jemima Rooper. Best get booking then…

Continue reading “A whole load of Friday casting news”

News: Camden Stands with Grenfell Tower – an evening of music and poetry

Camden Stands with Grenfell Tower: An evening of music and poetry in aid of Grenfell Tower Fire Fund.

Hosted by Ché Walker, Friday 23rd June sees a night of music and poetry in honour of the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and to benefit the Grenfell Tower Fire Fund. Doors will open at 7pm, with the event starting at 7.30pm at Wac Arts’ premises near Belsize Park.

Tickets £20, £10 concessions: bookings can be made online here.
If you want to donate directly to the fund established by Queen’s Park Councillor Eartha Pond, the link is https://www.gofundme.com/grenfell-tower-fire-fund. Continue reading “News: Camden Stands with Grenfell Tower – an evening of music and poetry”

Review: Chigger Foot Boys, Tara Arts

“We were chosen because we think like Englishmen”

At a moment in British history when the political discourse around the contribution of (at least part of) the immigrant population has never been more highly charged, Patricia Cumper’s Chigger Foot Boys could not be more timely. A largely unheralded part of the British Army in the First World War were the 15,600 men who formed the British West Indies Regiment, volunteers from British colonies who provided invaluable service and yet received despicable treatment.

Cumper is far too canny a writer to make her play – based on meticulous research and inspired by real events – that didactic though. The consequences of colonial attitudes and their prejudices are implicit, threaded through every heartbeat of her five fictional characters but never the sole focus, complicated as they are by the intersection of so many other things like cruel twists of fate and the full spectrum of human nature from its self-sabotaging worst to its soul-searching best, to create the rich fabric of their own narratives.  Continue reading “Review: Chigger Foot Boys, Tara Arts”

Review: Corbyn the Musical – The Motorcycle Diaries, Waterloo East Theatre

“Do it for Islington”

You make theatre, musical or otherwise, out of political satire at your peril. Last month at the Waterloo East Theatre saw UKIP! The Musical, written last year, already feel like a period piece and at the same venue, Corbyn the Musical – The Motorcycle Diaries has now opened, written more recently but still unable to keep up with the fast-moving and quite frankly ridiculous state of modern British politics and the media coverage thereof. 

It’s not so much that Corbyn the Musical feels dated but rather that the nature of its comedy means that you want it to be as up to date as possible as the days when Corbyn’s every action was decried as a front page gaffe seem to have passed. This show is competing in a market where the likes of Merton and Hislop are able to quickly respond to, for example, Ken Livingstone being cornered in a disabled loo having to defend his views on Hitler (a subject surely ripe for a one-man musical epic) and as such, lacks the requisite contemporary bite. Continue reading “Review: Corbyn the Musical – The Motorcycle Diaries, Waterloo East Theatre”

Review: Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Globe

“Laugh to scorn the power of men”

Who’d’ve thought 2013 would turn out to be the year of the impressive Malcolm? After Alexander Vlahos’ strongly defined interpretation of a fast-maturing young man for the MIF’s Macbeth in the summer, so now Philip Cumbus makes his own successful stab at the character for the Globe’s take on the Scottish Play, making him an unmistakeable stateman from the off even if he hides it well. The production is most notable for marking the directorial debut of that product-of-a-star-dancing Eve Best and a striking one it is too – whereas Lucy Bailey went all-out Dante back in 2010, Best treats it with a much lighter, even comedic, touch.

It’s a bold choice and one that is just so different that in the trickier moments, it was hard to tell whether I felt it was genuinely unsuccessful or rather that it was just so unexpected. Generally speaking, the vein of black comedy that was teased out was stronger than the broader strokes that often appear in Globe comedies, but the sound of so much laughter in the play did feel at odds with its increasingly darkening horizons, the creeping sense of horror never really materialises as the tonal balance of the production makes it hard for the actors to shift modes and carry the audience with them. Continue reading “Review: Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Globe”