Review: Heart of Darkness, Birmingham REP

A hugely thought-provoking, contemporary retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness from innovative theatre company imitating the dog

The story is impossible to tell, but it must be told”

Are some stories just too problematically complex to tell in today’s society? Or is there value in trying to pick them apart, to get to the heart of them in an attempt to understand? imitating the dog clearly cleave to the latter point of view as they forensically dissect Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (“it’s of its time, and that time is racist”) in this hugely thought-provoking production which creates a film noir-inspired adaptation in front of us.

Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks’ reworking is breath-taking in the formal invention of its scope, exploring the intersection of theatre and technology as well as thoroughly interrogating the text. So discussions about the inherent problems of the story smash up against striking effect-laden work on a green screen, spoken stage directions nestle next to a lip-synced Francis Ford Coppola. It’s a sensory overload. Continue reading “Review: Heart of Darkness, Birmingham REP”

Friday feeling – news aplenty

All hail the return of Nicola Walker to the stage! Get your tickets for Camelot! Discover the Heart of Darkness! Get your exam in musical theatre singing with ABRSM!

London Musical Theatre Orchestra has announced casting for Saturday’s concert version of Camelot at the London Palladium and there’s still a few tickets going. Packed with some of musical theatre’s best songs, LMTO’s concert version with full orchestra will celebrate the centenary of Alan Jay Lerner’s birth.

The role of Arthur will be played by Olivier Award-winner David Thaxton (Passion / Les Misérables / Jesus Christ Superstar), Guenevere will be played by Savannah Stevenson (Wicked / Aspects of Love / Follies), and Lancelot will be played by internationally renowned opera star Charles Rice (Mozart’s Requiem The Barber of Seville / Candide). Continue reading “Friday feeling – news aplenty”

Review: A Farewell To Arms, The Old Market Brighton

“Reading makes the text habitable, like a rented apartment”

Combining theatre and film with text and technology, Imitating the Dog’s adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s 1929 novel A Farewell To Arms is an adventurous trek into multimedia storytelling. Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks’ direction sees the leads filmed live but separately, the footage combined into a single scene on large screens all around; Simon Wainwright’s video design sees pages of Hemingway’s book projected onto walls as the words deconstruct and dissolve around the actors; the adaptation foregrounds the epic love story between US ambulance driver Frederic Henry and British Catherine Barkley play out against the final year of the First World War, but it also sees the company commenting on and questioning the action even as they’re acting it out.

Furthermore for this performance (which I only later discovered was captioned as opposed to them being an integral part of the design) were the subtitles, adding in an extra layer to the potent mixture as another iteration of Hemingway’s narrative voice. The resulting interplay between the various media added a most fascinating texture – the text a constant reminder of its novel form, the minor variations uttered by the performers an indication of the artificiality of said context, and the live video slipping in and out of sync heightening the theatricality, becoming something more than just a simple replication of what is occurring but an interpretation of it, an alternative version even. The post-show discussion revealed a fair few people disgruntled by the time lag but for me it niggled with interest. Continue reading “Review: A Farewell To Arms, The Old Market Brighton”