Review: Who Do We Think We Are, Southwark Playhouse

“Maybe, just maybe, there is some hope”

Hope indeed, if new theatre company Visible are anything to go by. Gathering together a group of performers to create the only professional British theatre ensemble made up of older actors (60+ if we have to put a number on it) Who Do We Think We Are? sees them work with Sonja Linden to create a tapestry of tales of their considerable lives and experiences which stretch over so many of the key events of the twentieth century.

The concept is simple – the ensemble each work through a telling of their personal histories and given the international make-up of the group, the narrative stretches across the globe as well back to the outbreak of the First World War. As tales of grandparents and parents turn into stories of themselves – sometimes told alone, sometimes assisted by fellow members – the cumulative effect turns into something gently breathtaking in scope, in meaning, in power. Continue reading “Review: Who Do We Think We Are, Southwark Playhouse”

Review: The Queen of Spades, Arcola Theatre

“I thought I saw the Countess quiver.
‘Fret not, it was just the start of rigor.
Mortis.’”

There are some things I know a fair bit about and there are others I do not and Alexander Pushkin is one of those. Ask me to name a couple of Russian writers then I’d give you Chekhov and Tolstoy, but Pushkin has never really crossed my radar before despite him apparently being the Russian Shakespeare, according to t’internet. So the adaptation of his short story The Queen of Spades that has just started at the Arcola Theatre’s smaller Studio 2 held a little intrigue for me but for once, absolutely no preconceptions about how it ‘should’ be done or indeed any knowledge of what it was about.

What unfolded in Fusebox’s imaginative production was a kind of twisted dreamscape in which creepy circus performers ushered us to our seats, half-naked men appeared from the artfully arranged mountain of sheets that filled the stage and grasping hands tried to pull him back. As we come to find out, the man is Hermann – an officer in the Russian army – who has been committed to a mental asylum and the circus figure is an old woman who torments his psyche. The story of how Hermann ended up here is then told in nightmarish flashback through a range of theatrical devices. Continue reading “Review: The Queen of Spades, Arcola Theatre”