Sunday, 18 June 2017

REVIEW: I Know You of Old at The Hope Theatre

'You always end with a jade’s trick. I know you of old.' Shouts Beatrice (Sarah Lambie) at the end of yet another quick repartee with Benedick (David Fairs). In William Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing, most of the action revolves around this unconventional couple, where they both take pride in publicly mocking each other but they're intentionally tricked into falling in love. Using only The Bard's original lines, David Fairs wrote a completely different play, where the relationship between Benedick and Beatrice preserves its chracteristic wit but receives a dark twist. 

Staged in modern times, I Know You of Old, is set in a chapel, where the audience is sat around Hero's coffin. She is dead, unable to cope with the public shaming received on her wedding day. After being wrongly accused of infidelity by her fiancee Claudio (Conor O'Kane) and rejected by her father Leonato, she fainted in front of the altar and – differently from what happens in Shakespeare's plot – she has never woken up. Highlighting the mysoginistic attitude of Shakespeare's male characters, this reformed play restores justice for the wretched Hero and openly condemns the people responsible for her misery. Thanks to a fortuitous revelation, Claudio gets a chance to set things straight, whereas Beatrice has the opportunity to reinstate the honourable memory of her deceased cousin and confirm her strong and independent character.

REVIEW: Groomed at Soho Theatre

Groomed is an autobiographical one-man play which lasts around 60 minutes and is written by award winning director Patrick Sandford, who is returning to his roots as a performer. When he was not even ten years old, his school teacher abused him sexually – at school, in his home and more. Others didn’t seem to notice, or didn’t want to call out the teacher. It took Sandford nearly 30 years after that to reveal his trauma to the world, after keeping it repressed and letting it handicap his life and relationships for all that time. 

This is far from just being a monologue explaining Sandford’s trauma. The hour swishes by, not only because of the utter focus everyone feels in the room when listening to his story, but also because of the quality of the writing: the actor dramatises various parts of his life, playing different characters such as his mother, his attacker, himself as a young boy and older. He also juxtaposes his story with anecdotes of a Japanese soldier who remained at his defence post for almost 30 years after World War II was over, and the Belgian inventor of the saxophone. This instrument is beautifully introduced to the play thanks to a saxophonist who does not leave the stage and intersperses the text with short and often surprising musical interludes. 

REVIEW: Richard Alston Dance Company: Tangent, Chacony & Gypsy Mixture at Sadler’s Wells

The Richard Alston Dance Company is a medium sized British contemporary dance company founded in 1994, currently presenting Tangent, Chacony, and Gypsy Mixture plus extra Glint over a two-hour evening on the main stage at Sadler’s Wells. A prolific choreographer for nearly half a decade, Richard Alston is renowned for his intimate relationship between music and movement, and as he came out and told us himself before the start of the performance, tonight would be no exception. His genial introduction included an ‘apology’ for what we were about to see and also a nod to current affairs, facetiously reassuring us that there was no disaster, and that seeing him on stage didn’t mean that something was wrong. 

The curtain raiser Glint was apparently created at a difficult time for Alston back in 2016, where he suffered from a decrease in hearing. Not being able to hear high frequencies he turned to percussion, using John Cage’s rich tapestry ‘Second Construction for Percussion’ that starts with a rhythm seeming largely Latin American but then is constantly interrupted by irregularities, all ostensibly intended to upset any sense of order. The ensemble of eight perform a structured and dense dance with costumes akin to a Zoom lolly or European flag, giving it a communist rally or somehow nationalistic feel. The dancers drew together then splintered like pick-up sticks, creating a busy and hypnotic effect. 

REVIEW: Holy Crap at the Kings Head Theatre

The Heather brothers are back and this time, in contrast to their coming of age angst in ‘A Slice of Saturday Night’ they bring to you sex, drugs and Christianity in one package with a bow of blasphemy on top. 

The King’s Head Theatre is Islington is the venue of choice for the world premier of ‘Holy Crap’; a new musical that follows GOD TV a subscriptions service which is popular stateside but doesn’t pick up ratings in Godless Britain when the production team bring it over. That’s when Bobby Del Le Ray (John Addison) has the great idea of spicing things up by adding sex into the mix. This is all because the team behind GOD TV, Clarissa and Vinnie (Rachel Marwood and Nuno Queimado, respectively) are using it as a money laundering scheme with mafia connections but this information is kept from the other members of the team, Destiny and Rex (Letitia Hector and Arvid Larsen) and they need to find a way to convince the pair before the whole thing unravels. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Casting announced for world premieres of Pinocchio, Saint George and the Dragon and Beginning

On a quest to be truly alive, Pinocchio leaves Geppetto’s workshop with Jiminy Cricket in tow. Their electrifying adventure takes them from alpine forests to Pleasure Island to the bottom of the ocean. This spectacular new production brings together the director of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the writer of Matilda the Musical.
For the first time on stage, featuring unforgettable music and songs from the Walt Disney film including I’ve Got No StringsGive a Little Whistle and When You Wish upon a Star in dazzling new arrangements, Pinocchio comes to life as never before. 

Cast includes Joe Idris-Roberts (Pinocchio), Audrey Brisson (Jiminy Cricket), Annette McLaughlin (Blue Lady), David Langham (The Fox), David Kirkbride (Coachman), Dawn Sievewright (Lampy), Chris Jarman (Stromboli) together with Stuart Angell, Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge, Stephanie BronJames CharltonRebecca Jayne-DaviesSarah Kameela ImpeyAnabel Kutay, Michael LinJack NorthClemmie Sveaas,Michael Taibi, Scarlet Wilderink and Jack Wolfe.