Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #6

Moments of dark humour are scattered throughout Edition #6 of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper but elsewhere it is a bit more hit and miss

“I loved every minute of it, yeah, fuck it, why not, five stars!”

Originally planned as a six-edition run, the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper will actually be gaining a bonus seventh instalment with pieces written by writers aged 14-21. But Edition #6 is now live with its intention of  exploring “the strange and contradictory relationship between a closed theatre building and the world outside; asking questions about why we gather together and who we might have lost when we do so again”.

There are some short, sharp stabs of real brilliance here. Stacey Gregg picking through the minefield that is talking about Northern Ireland whether in English, ISL or BSL; Rory Mullarkey raking theatre critics over the coals in the highly amusing This Play (Louisa Harland, Sule Rimi and Micllicent Wong clearly having lots of fun); Amy Bethan Evans’ scabrously funny take on the agony aunt in Neurodiverge-Aunt, delivered beautifully by Cian Binchy. Continue reading “Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #6”

News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #6

The cast and writers of Edition 6 of Living Newspaper have been announced. It will be written by Pamela Carter, Hester Chillingworth, Tim Crouch, Molly Davies, Amy Bethan Evans, Robert Alan Evans, Stacey Gregg, Rose Lewenstein, Simon Longman, Rory Mullarkey, Lettie Precious, Pavel Pryazhko, Testament, Joe Ward Munrow, Kit Withington and Rachael Young. Pavel Pryazhko’s contribution will be translated by Sasha Dugdale.

Edition 6 explores the strange and contradictory relationship between a closed theatre building and the world outside; asking questions about why we gather together and who we might have lost when we do so again. It takes us on a journey from the familiarity of an old English pub, down the streets of Belarus, into the heady territory of global financial markets, stop briefly on a quiet park bench before bringing us back into the heart of the Royal Court itself. Continue reading “News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #6”

The finalists of The Offies 2020

Offies Awards - Off West End Theatre Awards

The finalists for the 2020 Offies (for performances in 2019) have been announced and congratulations to all 89 mentioned below. A tip of the hat too to the 400+ nominees who you can find here.

DESIGN

Design: Costume
Adrian Gee, Amour, Charing Cross Theatre
Emily Bestow, 42nd Street, Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Hannah Wolfe , Great Expectations, National Youth
Theatre, Southwark Playhouse

Design: Set
Diego Pitarch, Night of the Living Dead – Live!,
Pleasance
Justin Williams, Whistle Down the Wind, Union
Theatre
Lee Newby, The View UpStairs, Soho Theatre
Rachael Ryan, Thrill Me, Hope Theatre

Design: Sound
Benjamin Grant, The War of the Worlds, New Diorama
Lex Kosanke, Hunger, Arcola
Matt Eaton, All’s Well That Ends Well, Guildford Bard,
Jermyn Street Theatre
Xana, Blood Knot, Orange Tree

Design: Lighting
Christopher Nairne, Preludes, Southwark Playhouse
Clancy Flynn, An Act of God, Vaults
Jessica Hung Han Yun, Equus, English Touring Theatre,
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Nic Farman, Night of the Living Dead – Live!, Pleasance

Design: Video
Andrzej Goulding, The Unreturning, Theatre Royal
Stratford East
Ben Bull, Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre
Douglas Baker, Moby Dick, Jack Studio Theatre Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2020”

Review: Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival – A Question of Identity

“I’m laughing on the outside but screaming on the inside”

The first session of the Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival, tucked away in a rehearsal room under the stage, was entitled A Question of Identity, featuring three contrasting works of equal but different power. I saw Rose Lewenstein’s Fucking Feminists as part of the Acts of Defiance festival at Theatre503 a couple of months ago, but its rapid wordplay and competing voices which parse and pull apart notions of contemporary feminism easily allow for repeated viewing as you consider whether a chair can be feminist or if white feminists are only interested in getting themselves above the glass ceiling.

As directed by Lisa Cagnacci, the foursome of Ania Sowinski, Jody Jameson, Karlina Grace-Paseda, and Anna Elijasz are clearly revelling in the familiarity with their material and pushing both its thoughtfulness and cheekiness. By comparison, Stephanie Ridings’ The Road To Huntsville is much more restrained, a one-woman show tracking a writer’s research journey into the world of women who correspond and enter in romantic relationships with convicts. Though perhaps less overtly theatrical, its message is no less chilling (I’m still reeling from the Danielle Steel titbit) and Ridings expertly manoeuvres our sympathies through her discoveries. Continue reading “Review: Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival – A Question of Identity”

News – Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival begins

Monday 14th November sees the launch of the Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival at Hampstead Theatre and The Actors Centre. Produced by Sphinx Theatre Company and Joanna Hedges, Women Centre Stage exists to promote, advocate for and inspire women in the arts and has developed and commissioned a wide range of new work which uniquely brings together a diverse array of women characters far from the margins into centre stage.

This is the second year of Women Centre Stage and the festival features a range of workshops and creative comings-together which will culminate in the Performance Day on Sunday 20th November which will feature seven programmes throughout the day. This will include opportunities to see emerging work from new and established writers, plays commissioned from last year’s festival, and see four playwrights respond the headlines of the day in writing a new play each in 24 hours. 

Continue reading “News – Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival begins”

Review: Acts of Defiance – The Festival, Theatre503

“I’m in a cop car
I got here by accident
I think”

Produced by Mama Quilla and Theatre503, Acts of Defiance is a multidisciplinary festival which is “an explosive examination of female dissidence and a shameless celebration of global female defiance”. Film, spoken word, community-based work sit alongside a programme of six short plays, curated by Kay Adshead, which fold in a world of influences – feminism, diversity, sexuality, race, motherhood – to their tales of defiance, all accompanied to brilliant effect by Rosie Bergonzi’s percussion, evoking both the freeing beauty of dancing in a gay club to the fear of being caught in urban nightmare with the beat of her drum.

Once the cast found their feet, opening playlet The Nightclub by Chloe Todd Fordham proved to be one of the most quietly affecting. Directed with graceful economy by Rachel Valentine Smith, the tales of three disparate American women – an 85 year old recent widow, a middle-aged mother estranged from her daughter, a young Muslim (Marlene Sidaway, Kiran Sonia Sawar, Karlina Grace-Paseda respectively) – all searching for something different yet fatefully entwined together. Continue reading “Review: Acts of Defiance – The Festival, Theatre503”

Review: Now This Is Not The End, Arcola Theatre

“Everybody told us to forget about it. Now we’re all dying and everybody wants us to remember”

Eva’s memory is failing, daughter Susan recorded some of her recollections of her youth in Berlin but the cassette has gone missing and her daughter Rosie couldn’t care less, having adopted Berlin as her new home, withdrawing from the very family connection that her mother is trying to preserve. Skittering between London and Berlin and over the course of more than a decade, Rose Lewenstein’s Now This Is Not The End is a slight but serious piece of drama that eloquently explores how we’re moulded by our families, no matter how much emotional or physical distance we try to put between us.

Katie Lewis’ production is strongest when these three women are interacting, demonstrating that even though they’re trying the opposite, they’re carrying so much of their family legacy down from one generation to the next. Brigit Forsyth’s Eva subtly suggesting that her aloofness isn’t just a symptom of the early stages of her condition, Wendy Nottingham’s brittle Susan trying and failing not to repeat the lessons of the past, and Jasmine Blackborow’ spiky Rosie rather achingly looking for a sense of her own identity in a world with no easy answers. Continue reading “Review: Now This Is Not The End, Arcola Theatre”

Review: London: Four Corners One Heart, Theatre 503

“I want to show you London. My London.”

Theatre 503 has long been a supporter of fresh new theatre and they’re maintaining that reputation with their latest show. London: Four Corners One Heart is a collection of “stories inspired by the streets of London and the people who play on them”, all short pieces of new writing from emerging playwrights. The theme is London in all its variety and the four stories each take a corner, a point on the compass to talk about the city they love.

There was much to admire about the whole production, not least the ambitious scope of producers Sky or the Bird, the gusto of the cast and creatives and the supportive atmosphere of an enthusiastic audience. And though I have to be honest and say the quality of the evening was sometimes variable, I found much to appreciate too, especially in the stimulation of young writing talent. Continue reading “Review: London: Four Corners One Heart, Theatre 503”