Review: The Wolves, Theatre Royal Stratford East

Sarah DeLappe’s play The Wolves proves a striking piece of ensemble work full of incisive teen insight at Theatre Royal Stratford East

“We should be, like, very very thankful for our liberties you know”

You don’t want to instinctively compare The Wolves to Dance Nation but as far as new plays written by American women about teenage girls involved in competitive sport go, the parallels are there. Sarah DeLappe’s debut play receives a visually striking production here from Ellen McDougall, with some superb design work from Rosie Elnile.

The sport here is football, indoor soccer to be precise, and we follow this team over five weeks’ worth of games. But the focus isn’t the games, it is the young women playing them – known only by their shirt numbers, not their names – the characters being formed by this intense group interaction, which ranges from jokey banter to the deeply profound. Continue reading “Review: The Wolves, Theatre Royal Stratford East”

2015 Offie Award Finalists

Offies Awards - Off West End Theatre Awards

Best Female
Linda Bassett for Visitors at The Bush and the Arcola Theatre
Laura Jane Matthewson for Dogfight at Southwark Playhouse 
Shannon Tarbet for The Edge Of Our Bodies at The Gate

Best Supporting Female
Leila Crerar for Martine at Finborough Theatre
Vicki Lee Taylor for Carousel at Arcola Theatre
Thea Jo Wolfe for Singing In The Rain at Upstairs At The Gatehouse

Best Male
Patrick O’Kane for Quietly at Soho Theatre
Harry Lloyd for Notes From Underground at The Print Room, Coronet
Robin Soans For Visitors at the Bush and Arcola Theatre Continue reading “2015 Offie Award Finalists”

Review: Autumn and Winter, Orange Tree Theatre

“What did you do to me?”

Autumn and Winter, at the Orange Tree in Richmond, opens powerfully with a Stockholm family dinner party coming to an end but debates over a range of subjects still coming thick and fast with predictably liberal Swedish upper-middle-class attitudes prevailing, whether about immigration, drug abuse or the economy. But this is no tidy social affair and the conversation returns over and over again back to themselves and their unique family dynamic. This is mostly driven by the behaviour of younger daughter Ann, relentlessly self-analytical and forever complaining about her struggles as a would-be playwright and single mum in the face of the comparative luxury of the rest of her family.

Lars Norén, little known in this country but one of Sweden’s best playwrights and very popular on the continent, keeps to a naturalistic style here with conversations spilling into each other, dialogue overlapping, people talking over each other whilst Ann behaves likes a spoilt brat and considering this was their first performance, the controlled energy from the cast was rather well calibrated, bouncing off each other well and creating that well-worn sense of long-suffering familial tolerance. But as the play progresses and each character gets their turn to air their long-held grievances and reveal a couple of shocking home truths, matters become a little wearing and, to be honest rather tiresome, as we slowly work our way around the table. Continue reading “Review: Autumn and Winter, Orange Tree Theatre”

Review: Beauty and the Beast, National Theatre

“You’ve never heard a fairytale until you’ve heard one told by a fairy…”

First in an ever-increasing list of the family Christmas show market is Beauty and the Beast, currently in previews at the Cottesloe in the National Theatre. Devised and directed by Katie Mitchell with text work from playwright Lucy Kirkwood, they have reworked the traditional fairy tale into this delightful new confection aimed at girls and boys over the age of eight (and those young at heart too!)

Mitchell’s twist is to have the story presented to us by magical creatures Mr Pink and Cecile with their helper, and it is these interjections that provide much of the laughs and the interesting narrative drive whereas we might be familiar with the tale of Beauty and the Beast, we have no idea where these characters might end up. She has introduced all sorts of lovely touches to engage her audience, my favourites of which were the mind-reading machine which is used on the characters to reveal their true thoughts but is also turned on some audience members too and the shadow puppets used with the lightbox to great effect. The fast-forward and rewind features were neatly done, Gareth Fry’s exaggerated sound effects are great fun, there’s a charming moment as we all look up into the stars: it all serves to capture the attention of her audience and keep it, the children around me all loved it. Continue reading “Review: Beauty and the Beast, National Theatre”