Review: La Strada, Richmond

“Ma che faccia buffa che hai! Ma sei sicura di essere una donna? Sembri un carciofo”

Most reviews of La Strada will doubtless start with a potted history of the film but I have to be entirely honest with you and say that despite its illustrious Oscar-winning status, it’s not one that has ever crossed my path. Apologies to Federico Fellini and co for that, and apologies to you readers too, for I see little point in pretending otherwise for the sake of some supposed authenticity.

So I come to La Strada with entirely fresh eyes but no small measure of excitement too for it is the latest show to spring from the extraordinary well of theatricality that is Sally Cookson. And with a writer-in-the-room devising with the company instead of a conventional book scribe, and a ensemble ever-present onstage made up of an international cast of multi-disciplinarians at hand, it is unmistakably and unforgettably Cookson.  Continue reading “Review: La Strada, Richmond”

Review: The Wild Bride, Lyric Hammersmith

“There’s precious little else to do, the Devil supposed, but to sell your soul at the crossroads”

I have to admit to not being entirely won over by Kneehigh. They spoken of with such reverence but the handful of shows of theirs that I have seen haven’t really won me over to their style. I found the archness of The Red Shoes lacking in emotion, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg tried too hard to force too much quirkiness, A Matter of Life and Death just left me baffled! But Emma Rice’s retelling of a Hungarian fairytale, The Handless Maiden, retitled here as The Wild Bride feels like something closer to Kneehigh’s raison d’être, combining light with the dark, humour with the tragedy, and consequently I found it highly enjoyable.

When a miller accidentally sells his only daughter to the Devil and has to chop her hands off as it turns out she is too pure to be taken, the girl ends up in the harsh world of the forest where hardship is endured, opportunity presents itself but the Devil is always keeping a watchful eye. The company of six – actors, musicians, performers, dancers, artists – tell the story in typical Kneehigh style, embracing a world of influences the most significant of which are the enchanted dark forests of the Brothers Grimm with their mysterious feel and the American South of the Great Depression, with the twang of blues guitar never far away. The end result is something close to magic. Continue reading “Review: The Wild Bride, Lyric Hammersmith”