Wednesday, 28 September 2016

'The Plough and the Stars' National Theatre, Lyttleton ***

When the beginning of World War I first exploded on the globe in 1914, no one knew what tragic consequences it would cause to not only the nations that were most effected, but to the families of soldiers who had lost a loved one. The National Theatre’s revival production of Sean O’Casey’s 1926 play, ‘The Plough and the Stars’ portrayed how an Irish community was completely annihilated and the psychological issues of a death of a husband could ensue, in addition to this, the interpretations were transcendent throughout the length of the show.

‘The Plough and the Stars’ is set over the course of a year from 1915-1916, in Dublin, Ireland where we are familiarised with Nora Clitheroe, the wife of respected Irish soldier, Jack Clitheroe, it appears that they are a happily married couple who live in a well-decorated flat. However, when Captain Brennan (Adam Best) comes to their home and refers to Jack as “Commandant Clitheroe”, of course Jack is extremely perplexed as he was not aware that he had indeed been promoted and has to report to General James Connolly as Nora had burnt the letter; understandably Jack is enraged at Nora as she was not honest with him. We are soon transported to a typical Dublin pub where speeches are occurring outside, yet inside, gigolo Rosie Redmond (Grainne Keenan) is disappointed that these speeches are going on outside as it may not be too great for her trade. Over the course of the performance, an array of confrontations happen from Bessie Burges and Mrs Gogan (Josie Walker) and also from The Young Gogan (Tom Vaughan-Lawler) and Fleuther Good (Stephen Kennedy) . Jack now bedecked in his army uniform enters with his colleagues, Captain Brennan and Lieutenant Langon (Kieran Gough) and all of the three men promise to fight to their deaths in order to protect the people of Dublin. Throughout the Easter celebrations, the Rebels are on top form and are obliterating the enemy and as such; the Dubliners think it is okay for them to break into the shops and shoplift, nonetheless when Jack and Brennan arrive with a wounded soldier; Nora grovels to Jack to not go back. Unfortunately, Jack refuses and a return to face the opposition and a heavily pregnant Nora goes into labour. As World War I is destroying everything, Nora, Bessie, The Young Gogan and Fleuther have fled to an abandoned flat where Nora has become delusional as she has had a still birth and Brennan has arrived with the sad news that Jack has been killed in action. As the pressure intensifies, two British soldiers lead The Young Gogan and Fluether out, at the finale as Nora and Bessie are alone where a crazed Nora goes to the window screaming for Jack and when Bessie tries to grab Nora, Bessie is shot in the back and dies because she was wrongly identified as a sniper.  O’Casey’s narrative is brilliant as we get to see what the war what was supposed to end all wars has done to excessive amount of families, moreover he presents a realistic account of the mental pressures the women had to endure and the loss of a husband can completely destroy someone’s mind.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Plough and the Stars’ to be sophisticated and increasingly poignant due to the hard-hitting moments throughout the show, and the annunciations of the Irish accents were spoken with such excellence.  Fionn Walton is wonderful as the soldier husband, Jack Clitheroe; mainly how we see that he is horrified by his wife’s deception for not telling him the truth about his promotion, then again, when he wears his uniform, he feels the sense of pride as perhaps this is his true calling and fight for his country. Judith Roddy is grand as the Jack’s wife, Nora; for example how she knows that due to the fact that the war itself may end up in her losing her husband forever and I liked how that with the many tragedies she has faced in a small amount of time , her mental expressions made her look rather insane.  Judith Mitchell is pleasing as the rather boisterous, Bessie Burges; expressly when how at first, she is quite unpleasant, but as the play develops, when she is caring for Nora and when it leads to her ultimate demise, we observe all areas of her person and I particularly admired how her diction and projection was in her death monologue.


Jeremy Herrin and Howard Davies’ direction is decent here as the two gentlemen have showed us how the Dublin community in that time period were pushed to the absolute limit and this was the same for many nations and the actual characterisations were polished to a degree as I would have liked a bit more tension between all characters in the fourth scene as Nora makes it harder for people to be rational. Vikki Mortimer’s design is vivid as each of the four sets that comprise of the Dublin environment work wonders here as there is an intense nature of bleakness especially in the third and fourth scenes and the scenic art and construction was awesome and the costumes were just right. 
Overall, the experience of , ‘The Plough and the Stars’ to be a somewhat riveting and strong revival performance about what war can do and that that we way be on course for another World War which would be a catastrophic disaster. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

'Funny Girl' Savoy Theatre *****

The diminutive Menier Chocolate Factory has a bulky list of triumphant West End transfers such as; the 2013 production of Sondheim’s, ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ which won an Olivier Award and this year has guaranteed another success for the theatre. The West End transfer of, Isabel Lennart, Julie Styne and Bob Merrill’s 1963 musical, ‘Funny Girl’ was an extraordinary production about a person who may not have and the best talent, but her personality shone through, additionally, the offerings were tremendous throughout.

‘Funny Girl’ is set in America where we are habituated with performer, Fanny Brice who is sat in her dressing room awaiting the return of her spouse, Nick Arnstein who has been facing a stint in prison and for Fanny, she has to figure out what the future of them is. She remembers a time when her own mother, Mrs Brice (Marilyn Cutts) and her poker playing friends mocked Fanny’s dreams of becoming a performer, on the other hand, when Fanny is introduced to manager, Eddie Ryan (Joel Montague) they become friends and he then agrees to sign her and as such; Fanny’s career in the entertainment industry could just be around the corner. When she is performing her act, Fanny meets suited and booted, Nick Arnstein and she instantly becomes besotted by him, then again, her career comes first as producer, Florence Zeigfeld (Bruce Montague) wants to employ her for his upcoming Follies. Over the course of the performance, we see Fanny and Nick develop a relationship with one another and this is due to their yearning for being together. After a bit of time apart, Fanny and Nick reunite as Nick had to go back to his farm in Kentucky, so the two have dinner with each other. It appears that Fanny is completely smitten by Nick and decides to cancel a part of her tour to be with Nick in New York City as she seems that her only chance of happiness so she does not care that her performance career could take a tumble. Fanny and Nick soon marry and live in a gargantuan Long Island mansion and with their family and close friends who join them in their celebration; Fanny is so overjoyed with her life.  Throughout the performance, Fanny’s mother, Mrs Brice is being pushed by Eddie and neighbour, Mrs Strakosh (Gay Soper) to find another husband as her daughter’s career has sky rocketed which is a huge change to Mrs Brice’s immediate reaction to Fanny’s hopes for the future when she was a child. Fanny’s husband, Nick has quite a lot of money problems because of a business deal that has fallen through and Nick is rapidly arrested and convicted for embezzling money and Fanny’s mother states that Fanny is also to blame for Nick’s capital troubles.  At the finale, Nick is about to be released from prison and it seems to Fanny that their marriage will ultimately bring pure sadness despite the fact that the two still love one another no matter what. Lennart’s narrative is world class here as we get to see how novelty acts can actually have such long lasting careers and in today’s modern world we have Jedward who have forged a fruitful career and to be honest I do love Jedward. Also musical numbers from Styne and Merrills such as; “I Want to be Seen with You”, “You Are A Woman, I Am Man”, “Who Taught Her Everything She Knows?” and “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” were excellently composed and the lyrics were captivating.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Funny Girl’ to be phenomenally depicted with exemplary vocals and choreographic sequences from a brilliant ensemble and there is a marvellous camaraderie from the entire team. Sheridan Smith is out of this solar system as central protagonist, Fanny Brice; specifically how we see that a person with such aspirations of a future in the entertainment becomes a reality and there is a deep sadness that exudes from her as her marriage to Nick is diminishing as money hasn’t done them any favours; moreover, her vocal ability in, “Don’t Rain On My Parade” was amazing. Darius Campbell is remarkable as Fanny’s husband, Nick Arnstien; for example how we see that he may try his best to be the top husband for Fanny but he has a lot of disadvantages because of the problems he is having with obtaining investments for his businesses , yet he has an array of respect for his wife which does show to us that he loves her and that he can be a good man to her throughout their marriage.

Michael Mayer’s direction and Lynne Page’s choreography is fabulous here as Mayer has categorically presented a revival that is magical and compelling and with Page’s choreography we are brought back to Follies and the whole Vaudeville era to such elegance and the flawless energy states how wonderful the show is. Michael Pavelka’s set design and Matthew Wright’s costume design are extraordinary as the set itself has been designed to bring us into Fanny Brice’s rise to fame and notoriety and the costumes were blissful and constructed with the finest detail so nothing was taken to chance here. Overall, the experience of, ‘Funny Girl’ was distinctively dreamy and a worthy addition to the West End theatre landscape so it would not surprise me if the show is the big winner at the 2017 Olivier Awards.  

Sunday, 18 September 2016

'If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You I Love You' Old Red Lion Theatre ****

Love and passion are remarkable things to achieve in relationships and when race plays quite a bit of the troubles in the relationship, can drugs help resolve those difficulties? The Old Red Lion Theatre’s production of John O’Donovan’s play, ‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You’ was such an enlightening tale of an interesting love story between a young gay couple, what is more, the performances were delightfully compelling.

‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You’ is set in Ireland where we are made known of Mikey and Casey wo are at present sat on the top of a roof of quite a grand house. However, the small town of Eniss has been caught up in Ireland’s financial struggles where most people have been forced to turn on each other due to the fact that money is a major issue and as such; community spirit is non-existent. We are soon informed that Casey has stolen money from his own mother and had the audacity to steal his step-father’s stash of cocaine. Over the course of the performance, Mikey who has previous criminal acts against himself with the police and he explains to his boyfriend that he has been the victim of homophobic bullying which has somewhat contributed to his behaviour in the past. There is a lot of excitement from the two young lads where Mikey has even stolen from his friend at a local petrol station; it appears that they feel a sense of freedom for doing so and being together fighting against the odds. You can see that despite their differences of personalities they are extremely compatible as there are moments of such tender love between them. During the entire show, the two boys are immensely apprehensive that they’ll be found on top of this roof and carted off to the local police station which probably is a second home for Mikey.  It appears that Casey is not that experienced with being in a relationship so it seems that it’ll have to be up to Mikey to teach him how to be passionate and we really see that Mikey has so much respect for his partner, Casey.  Casey who was born in South London really misses his grandmother and is desperate to return to his natural home, and understandably Mikey becomes upset, then again, for Mikey, he is soon reassured by Casey that they will not split up. At the finale, the owners of the house return home so Mikey and Casey make a quick exit so that the authorities won’t catch up with them and because of this, they abseil down the roof and down the wall very much together as a pure partnership. O’Donovan’s narrative is wonderful as he has really captured the spirit of the relationship of Mikey and Casey and it is pretty cool that we are observers of how they are as a gay couple which makes us a fundamental part of the whole plotline and the flow of the plot is smooth and less than lovely.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You’ was so alluring and engrossing through deliciously juicy scenes of romance of love and affection, moreover, the voice work and movements were very much pleasing. Ammar Duffus is flawless as the slightly reserved, Casey; especially how we learn that he hasn’t has it easy not only with the fact he is gay, but he has had to face a massive level of racist abuse from people, yet, when he is with Mikey, we see that nothing will ever come between them and they will stand up for true love. Alan Mahon is superb as the rather confident one of the couple, Mikey; particularly how his experiences that he has had to go through in his life has actually lead him on the wrong path, nonetheless, it appears that when he is with his beloved Casey, he becomes quite the charmer and even though it is not visible, I felt that he was the protector of Casey and this was pretty interesting to understand.

Thomas Martin’s direction is acceptable here as he has brought together the themes of O’Donovan’s writing with such visualisation where the characterisations of the relationship of Mikey and Casey was so thorough and increasingly mesmerising because there was so much positive body language and eye contact was such a pleasure and joy to watch, also I liked how differences in the character’s personalities worked with the context of the play itself. Georgia de Grey’s set and costume design was impressive as the detailing of the roof of a rather massive house was definitely easy on the eye and with the costumes really worked with the identities of the characters and the lighting design by Derek Anderson helped create the atmosphere of the cold and the darkness of the lack of money in this Irish town. Overall, the experience of, ‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You I Love You’ was a brilliantly engaging piece of LGBT Theatre which is full of love and passionate moments and a good show from a highly regarded fringe space.

Friday, 16 September 2016

'Jess and Joe Forever' Orange Tree Theatre ****

There are numerous occasions that theatrical experiences that give me so many surprises, but there are surprises that leave you open mouthed as I was not expecting it and it is intriguing to find out the secret. The Orange Tree Theatre’s production of Zoe Cooper’s current play, ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ was an absorbing and colossal show about friendships and gender in particular; furthermore, the representations were amazingly delineated.

‘Jess and Joe Forever’ is set in Norfolk where we’re acquainted with Joe, who is naturally born and bred in Norfolk himself is a rather reserved individual who appears to be lacking in friendships with people who are of the same age. He soon comes into contact with, Jess who frequently spends her summer holidays in Norfolk with her au pair, in addition to this, she has a somewhat lack of confidence as she us quite chubby as her summer dresses do not fit her too well. Their initial meeting occurs when both Jess and Joe are nine years old where she sleuths Joe who is skinny dipping in incredibly tight Speedos and when she is caught by Joe, we can see that Joe does not have an abundant amount of body issues. However, as Jess keeps visiting Norfolk annually, the friendship between Jess and Joe flourishes as both have to deal with the challenges of growing up; especially their teenage years where both are experiencing puberty and the other life difficulties. Over the course of the performance, Joe who at first was exceedingly sceptical of Jess in the first place begins to become more comfortable with being in Jess’ presence and some lovely moments with the two friends. Joe seems to think that everything happens for a reason and even when he discusses his own mum’s funeral, he appears to be somewhat emotionless and declares that his mum’s death was just meant to happen.  Throughout the performance, we learn a lot more about Jess and Joe as the two really like one another and they have a real understanding of each other’s stories and what is most fascinating is that in a number of scenes that a promising romance could be on the cards and that the proxemics of the two of them may be rather close but in actual fact they are miles apart. At the finale, in what could possibly be one of the biggest shocks in a play that the real reason that Joe has a mammoth amount of body issues that he reveals that he is transgender and even though Jess is perplexed, she doesn’t reject him and the two carry on with their relationship development. Cooper’s narrative is so enchanting as she has taken us on a journey that is crammed full of twists and turns all the way through which makes us the audience desiring what is about to occur, moreover, I really admired how she has crafted a charming relationship of Jess and Joe.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ be fascinating as both characters go through a whole range of emotions that keeps you wanting more which in turn the movements and the voice delivery were rather polished in depth. Nicola Coughlan is sublime as, Jess; mainly how we see that in the shows duration we come to see that she wants to make Joe become increasingly more confident and this is so decent for someone to do despite the fact she has issues too and this shows that she likes to help others first before herself. Rhys Isaac-Jones is outstanding as the shy and quiet boy, Joe; specifically how with the way in which he tries to cover up his body shows that there is more about his bashfulness and when it is revealed why he is body conscious then we can see how people within the transgender community still today have stigmas attached and this should not occur.

Derek Bond’s direction is out of this world as he has brought Cooper’s plot to such brilliance as we are not only witnessing the story of friendships and the development of the relationship, we are given a perspective of gender and how the transgender community still have a long way to go before it is accepted in the world and the understanding of it, plus the characterisations were directed with such accomplishment. James Perkins’ design is grand too as we are definitely transported to the Norfolk landscape and the set really works in conjunction with the sound equipment which is quite tricky to do but this is rather fruitful here and the actual costumes work within the personalities of the characters that are Jess and Joe. Overall, the experience of, ‘Jess and Joe Forever’ was a worthwhile visit to a space I have really come to like and the gripping tale of twists and turns reminds me of an episode of ‘Big Brother’ were twists and turns are a part of the norm.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

'Allegro' Southwark Playhouse ****

I am certain that most people would know the musicals from the iconic duo, Rogers and Hammerstein such as; ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘The King And I’ and ‘South Pacific’, but there are some shows from them that have not been staged for some time or in actual fact never been performed professionally whatsoever. Southwark Playhouse’s production of Rogers & Hammerstein ‘s musical, ‘Allegro’ which receives its European premiere was a beautifully captivating story, by the same token, the interpretations were exquisitely acted over the whole shows duration.

‘Allegro’ is set in the USA where we are familiarised with the birth of Joseph “Joe” Taylor Jr who’s father, Joseph Taylor Sr (Steve Watts) is the local town’s doctor and his mother, Marjorie Taylor (Julia J Nagle) are overjoyed by the birth of their first child. The locals of the town think that Joe will be immensely successful as we see Joe Jr progress through his childhood, Joe Jr experiences the death of his own gran, Grandma Taylor (Susan Travers) and as such; he is helped through his grief by Jennie Brinker and from this the two form quite a good bond. However, he hasn’t got any knowledge of what romance is and has not got the foggiest about asking her out on a date and due to the fact that Joe Jr is going to be going to university to study medicine it appears that any relationship will be out of the question. When Joe is at university, he meets Charles Townsend and the two form a good friendship where Charles instructs Joe on the many methods on how to woo the girls for example, Beluh (Leah West), on the other hand, he seems to be more concerned to what Jennie is doing and when they are reunited with Jennie, he quickly proposes to her and she accepts his proposal. Then again, not everyone is pleased by his choice of woman; specifically the ghostly figures of his mother and grandmother as well as, Jennie’s living father, Ned Brinker (David Delve). Over the course of the performance, Joe isn’t doing so well with his career as he is the assistant for his father-in-law, yet, when Joe is given a job in a posh Chicago hospital where his friend Charles is working and with a good push from Jennie, he welcomes the offer with open arms and because of this, he has to leave his father behind. The hospital itself is increasingly pretentious and Joe has become too heedless in his practices and is caught by the nurse, Emily West and thankfully lead physician, Bigby Denby (Matthew Woodyatt) is pleased with his work. On the contrary, during the countless of parties that they have to attend, Joe Jr’s wife, Jennie becomes infatuated by a sponsors charms and his name is Brook Landsdale (Samuel Thomas) whos wife, Mrs Landsdale is being treated with drugs by Joe Jr no less.  When Joe Jr is informed that his spouse has been having an affair, he decides to resign from his job and return to his hometown and work with his father, Charles and Emily in a place where the health of the patients are more important so at the finale, Joe Jr is now proud of what he has achieved in his work because he has proper morals and with a team that he respects, what more can he ask for. Oscars and Hammerstein’s narrative is awe-inspiring as we are taken on a journey of Joe Jr from his birth to his career as a doctor and with musical numbers such as; “Poor Joe”, “You Are Never Far Away”, “Money Isn’t Everything” and “Come Home” were so marvellous and brilliant composed and written. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Allegro’ to be stupendous as the vocals from all and the dance moments were really terrific and they really incorporated the audiences as part of the whole performance. Gary Tushaw is gripping as lead protagonist, Joe Jr; especially how we see his journey as a student through to his job as a doctor and it was pleasant to see that he understood that he should go back to his routes and divorce his wife who is rather duplicitous; also his vocals in the musical numbers were wondrous. Dylan Turner is sublime as Joe Jr’s university friend, Charlie; primarily how different he is compared to that of Joe Jr as he goes with the flow rather a lot, but the friendship with Joe Jr and himself is very truthful and exceedingly pleasant to witness i.e. the scenes where he teaches Joe Jr about the art of seduction. Emily Bull is brilliant as Joe Jr’s appalling wife, Jennie; mainly how selfish she comes across where to be honest she should be focussing on the love she should have for her husband all she seems to care about is money and forces Joe Jr away from the people that he cares about and for her to cheat shows how horrendous she is. Katie Bernstein is nice as the nurse, Emily West; predominantly how we see that from her introduction to Joe Jr, we can see that she is the one that Joe Jr should have married as she makes Joe Jr comprehend that Joe Jr needs to return to his home town and help those who will appreciate his care. 

Thom Southerland’s direction is dynamite here and with Lee Proud’s choreography have helped present a premiere in the European continent with such tenacity and ease as we can see that people need to think about is that “Money Isn’t Everything” and that it is those who have helped you in some way mean more and that it’s them who should be given more love like Joe Jr realises about his father’s compassion for him. Anthony Lamble’s set design and Jonathan Lipman’s costume design were exceptional as we are transported to the many places of the USA and with the simplicity of using a contraption to move really worked and the costumes looked so attractive and greatly made by the costume makers. Overall, the experience of,’Allegro’ was one of pure delight and another miraculous production produced by Danielle Tarento who is one of the UK’s most prolific theatre producers.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

'The Threepenny Opera' National Theatre, Olivier ****

To those who are currently training in theatre or to those who have been trained in the performing arts, we all have either productions or practitioners who have inspired us to get into it in the first place one way or another, and for me Bertolt Brecht and his Epic Theatre was what galvanized my passion for theatre in the first place. The National Theatre’s production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s 1920’s musical, ‘The Threepenny Opera was such a masterpiece of a revival and adapted so well by Simon Stephens, as well as, the delivery of the depictions were impressively conveyed throughout.

‘The Threepenny Opera’ is set in East London where we are habituated with crook, Captain Macheath AKA ‘Mack the Knife’ who has just become married to Polly Peachum and due to this, her father, Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum is frustrated that his own daughter has become the spouse of a crook. In order to wreak revenge of Macheath for marrying his daughter; as such, Peachum forms allegiances with Chief Inspector ‘Tiger’ Brown (Peter de Jersey) to get him arrested for his crimes, nonetheless, he was once one of Macheath’s former army colleagues. Over the course of the performance, we can obviously see that the nuptials between Macheath and Polly is not that truthful as Macheath is involved sexually with prostitutes and appears that Macheath will never be trusted especially in the company of women. In addition to this, Macheath is told by his wife, Polly that her father and mother, Celia Peachum (Haydn Gwynn) are conspiring against him and will get him arrested and eventually be hung for his acts of criminality and he has to depart London so this doesn’t occur. Due to this he states to his gang, Robert AKA The Iceman (Dominic Tighe), Matthia AKA The Shadow (Jamie Beddard) and Walter AKA The Scholar (Andrew Buckley) that his wife will be in charge whilst he is away.  Prior to his departure, he visits his favourite brothel and says a fond farewell to his ex-girlfriend, Jenny Diver (Sharon Small), on the other hand, she has deceived him and is involved with police and Peachum’s quest  to have him arrested and therefore he is captured and taken to jail and face his fate.  Throughout the performance, we see that there could be a cat fight between Polly and Lucy, another one of Macheath’s conquests specifically when they see him in jail at the very same time. Macheath escapes his incarceration, but as soon as he is recaptured rather rapidly and due to the fact that Jenny is being paid by the Peachum’s, yet they won’t pay her and slam the door in her face. Macheath, who is back in prison is notified that he will be executed and he begs his gang members and wife to pay for him to not be hanged, nevertheless, no one will help him and at the finale, he prepares to face his ultimate destiny and luckily enough for him the queen pardons him and he is then released and sent on his way out of the jail. Brecht and Weill’s narrative is pretty amazing as there are a lot of Epic Theatre techniques present in the plot such as sets being used only once and constantly being reminded that we are in a theatre space etc. Moreover, musical numbers like, “Cannon Song”, “Jealousy Duel”. “Song of the Insufficiency of Human Struggling” and “Cell from the Grave” added a lot of spectacle to the whole to do.

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Threepenny Opera’ to be exceedingly charismatic and brilliantly thorough with regards to the vocal abilities and the execution of the movement sequences. Rory Kinnear is outstanding as central character, Captain Macheath; expressly how we see that his love life is rather complicated and because he has just become married, we know that this marriage could just be a stunt, then again, when he is near his final few seconds, you can see there’s a hint of remorse for what he has done in his life.  Nick Holder is tremendous as the large, Jonathan Peachum; mainly the moment where he does a sequence that involves him wearing high heeled shoes and he does this with such poise and elegance and to be honest he was so light on his feet and appeared natural wearing them. Rosalie Craig is excellent as Macheath’s new wife, Polly; for example how somebody who does have the facial features and personality that is rather geeky can actually be married to a man such as Macheath, on the contrary, you can see that there is an inner strength when she refused to offer her husband any money and leave him to perish.  Debbie Kurup is wondrous as Macheath’s supposed girlfriend, Lucy Brown; predominantly the fact that she has a fearless nature and is not afraid to be so harsh and ballsy to Polly and there is a tense atmosphere that is shown through her personality. 

Rufus Norris’ direction is incredible here as he has been able to transport us to an era of theatre that made you question what you had seen which is another one of Brecht’s Epic techniques and a revival that shows how gangsters can actually be given their comeuppance, furthermore, with Imogen Knight’s choreography, there is a slight modern twist to the dance arrangements yet with the expressionist detailing. Vicki Mortimer’s design is joyous as she has been able to capture the whole Brechtain atmosphere to an audience who may not be aware to what a revolutionary he was in theatre as a whole and I was taken through Macheath’s journey from marriage to his near death expeience and this is done by fantastic scenic welding and construction and simple scenic art and just great. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Threepenny Opera’ was a production that excited me actually brought me back to my GCSE Drama days and leaning about Bertolt Brecht and Epic Theatre from the phenomenal teacher that is, Kate Soper.

Friday, 26 August 2016

'The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor' Old Red Lion Theatre ***

The undeniably extravagant and flamboyant Stephen Tennant which supposedly was the catalyst for characters, Cedric in ‘Love in a Cold Climate’ and Sebastian Flyte in ‘Brideshead Revisited’ and the great uncle to orphan, Simon Blow due to the fact that he lost both parents gives us a personal story about someone who he respected. The Old Red Lion Theatre’s production of, Simon Blow’s current play, ‘The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor’ does itself justice presenting a biographical play but with different character names etc., what is more, the portrayals were greatly acted.

‘The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor’ is set in the mansion of Uncle Napier where we are introduced to orphaned Joshua who is a penniless youngster has chosen to visit his great-uncle Napier who is rather affluent with money and resides in a large mansion. Luckily enough for Joshua, Uncle Napier develops a soft spot for his great-nephew and asks Joshua to become his carer and new heir to his estate and as such; he has to be by his great-uncle’s bed side despite the fact that he already has a servant by the name of Matthew (Paul Foulds). Uncle Napier’s cousin, Patrick (John Rayment) is competing for the money and because of the progression of Uncle Napier’s relationship with Joshua, he is alarmed that he may not be successful in obtaining the money and estate that he most desires. Over the course of the performance, we see that Joshua and his builder boyfriend, Damien are having problems with their fledgling relationship as Joshua is constantly visiting his uncle as well as the fact that Joshua thinks that Damien could be perceived as a bit of a ruffian if he eventually meets Uncle Napier. On a slightly different note, Uncle Napier has regular visions of his younger self where he had sex with French escorts and how the presence of his mother, Helena (Elizabeth George) still has in his life because the both of them are living in the mansion as ghostly figures.  As the relationship between himself and Joshua is strengthening by the day, yet when Joshua introduced his boyfriend, Damien to his great-uncle, Uncle Damien is less than thrilled that Joshua has brought him into his home. Throughout the performance you can see that Uncle Napier just sits around listening to show tunes, nonetheless, he has been finishing an unfinished novel which is in the process of being published. Nevertheless, Uncle Napier quite frankly is exceedingly perverted and even has the fearlessness to make a move of Joshua’s boyfriend, on the other hand, Damien does agree to having sexual intercourse with Uncle Napier but when they have done the deed, Uncle Napier lays back in his bed and passes away with Young Napier and his mother, Helena by his bed side so he isn’t on his own at his last breath. At the finale, Joshua is informed that Uncle Napier did not amend his last will and testament in time so the selfish cousin, Patrick is the heir to the whole estate leaving Joshua with nothing and basically back to square one but with Damien holding his hand all the way. Blow’s narrative is reasonable as we can see how his own personal story into a theatrical experience of he (Joshua in the play) had formed a strong bond with his great-uncle, but I would have liked to have seen some more scenes with Joshua and Damien as we see too much of Uncle Napier lying on his bed like a Greek God, then again, not a bad plot line just needs more refinement. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor’ to be charmingly portrayed and I can see that there has been a sturdy camaraderie with the company as I had a decent conversation with them after the performance.  Bernard O’Sullivan is pleasant as the flamboyant, Uncle Napier; predominantly where he seems to have a sense of safety with his mother’s ghostly figure being in the mansion, also, the moments with Joshua could suggest that he did want to a father but his sexuality affected that from happening. Jojo Macari is great as Uncle Napier’s great-nephew, Joshua; especially how we see that there is pain in the core of himself due to the fact he hasn’t got any living parents, however, when he is with Damien there are some lovely moments with the two as two levels of class in a relationship can be rather delightful. Denholm Spurr is attractive as Joshua’s boyfriend, Damien; for example how you can see that he is not happy with the fact that his partner is always with his great-uncle and that he should be spending more time with him and this is shown with the tension that is conveyed when he is acquainted with him. Nick Finegan is good as the Young Napier; specifically in the flashback when he is in France and we can see how the older form of Napier has become the way he is as it appears that he has never had a long running relationship and uses escorts as the means to smooth over this missing aspects of his life. 

Jeffrey Mayhew’s direction is agreeable here as he has presented a fair effort of showing us how the life of Simon Blow and his great-uncle’s relationship in a dramatic piece of artistry, on the contrary, I would have liked it is he could make us a little bit more enthralled in some parts, but that was rather minimal and the characterisations were fully clad. Rosie Mayhew’s design is pretty excellent as I was definitely transported to this part of Joshua and Uncle Napier’s life, plus Sam Waddington’s lighting design and Jack Lord’s sound design was terrific as it helped justify the dark and vibrant environment of the whole show and for two graduates who graduated this year, they were so on point with their work. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor’’ to be a gracious one and one that must have been rather interesting for Simon Blow to have written and acted on a stage that I very much love.