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Sunday, 1 May 2022

REVIEW: Cirque Du Temps at My Aerial Home and streaming

‘Once a Century the circus wakes up’, so the tale goes in the astounding Cirque du Temps, My Aerial Home Event’s latest professional circus production. 

Directed by Amanda Miles and featuring some of the brightest aerialists in the UK, famous circus performers from all around the world from the last 100 years are resurrected on the stage in a brilliant homage to the women who paved the way through the twentieth century. 

The ringleader of the circus troupe, played elegantly by Malik Ibheis, demands a child (‘Little Lola’) be taken to join their troupe and be shown the ropes of the circus. While the premise itself is dark, the company’s take on it is refreshingly wholesome and tender. 

Friday, 18 February 2022

REVIEW: The Ballad of Maria Marten at Wilton’s Music Hall

If I could give this show 10 stars, I would. It’s a one in a million. So rare is theatre this extraordinarily imaginative, masterfully crafted, exquisitely performed and poignantly relevant. 

Beth Flintoff’s The Ballard of Maria Marten was first staged in 2018 and has since been in development with two further casts. We are privy to four years of maturation and it is as compelling and gripping as theatre can be. Every note perfectly pitched, each harmony as tuneful as a room full of angels, each movement elegant and eloquent, every inch of the stage fully inhabited and the character and the world of Maria Marten, fully realised. 

There have been many reiterations of this story, of the brutal and gruesome murder of Maria Marten by her husband William Corder in 1827, the first only a year later when it appeared in a local tabloid, selling over a million copies. Since then, the story took on a life of its own and fact and fiction soon became a muddle of speculation. Most of the books, musicals, plays and films about Maria and her story, don’t focus on her. Instead, they focus on Corder, the murderer. Played by an all-female cast of six, Beth Flintoff’s version directed by Hal Chambers, focuses entirely on Maria’s story, with two of the male characters played by the women and the murderer himself, just a terrifying, shadowy force, wreaking havoc and destruction by his inescapable presence in Maria’s psyche. 

REVIEW: The Forest at the Hampstead Theatre

Hotly anticipated production by Florian Zeller, with a stellar cast including Paul McGann and Gina McKee, translated by Christopher Hampton, revolves around the splintering and fragmenting mind of distinguished husband, father and surgeon Pierre, as his sanity is challenged at the mercy of a life lived through layers of lies caused by his infidelities. 

Lie upon lie, you become a person you don’t recognise anymore. A poignant tale not fully told.

In this non-linear piece, fantasy blends with reality as scenes are repeated with changes representing Pierre’s twisted perception as his reality begins to crumble. Nuanced and sensitive writing is replaced with theatrical devices. The actors appear like marionettes playing the game of life, rather than expressing the complexities that the realism of the characters and their dialogue require. Lacking in nuance, it played out like they were telling the story, rather than acting it out.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

REVIEW: The Little Prince at The Place, London

‘A rockpile ceases to be a rockpile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of the Cathedral.’ – The Little Prince.

A good meal is greater than the sum of its parts and in much the same way, a good show isn’t just a convergence of good aspects of production. Whilst each aspect of this show is stunning, it’s Luca Silvestrini's direction and dramaturgy, which elevates this show from good to wonderful. The cosmic concoction of Daniel Denton’s enchanting animation, Frank Moon’s gorgeous music, divine lighting by Jackie Shemesh, Yann Seabra’s touring friendly set, the choreography and script devised by the company, under Silverstrinin’s direction make for an otherworldly and moving experience. Unlike usual seasonal shows, refreshingly, this production invites the imagination to travel beyond and quite simply, it is not to be missed. I dragged my two reluctant children (10 and 11 years old) from their screens to see it and much to their dismay, they were on the edge of their seats, captivated from beginning to end.

The script, devised by the company poetically and lyrically tells Saint-Exupéry’s tale, which explores big themes such as perception, greed, art, friendship and man’s relationship to the world, through the eyes of a child, the Little Prince beguilingly played by Faith Prendergast.

Friday, 19 November 2021

REVIEW: Little Scratch at The Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

Directed by Katie Mitchell, arguably one of Britain’s most important directors of theatre and opera, an auteur who makes beautiful work, she challenges conventional creative processes and always pushes the form forward. During a lively conversation in May of this year, with Kyoto Prize winner, director of Theatre du Soleil, Ariane Mnouchkine, Mitchell spoke passionately about feminism, her work with young people and her commitment to developing a sustainable model for making and touring theatre. With this in mind she directs Little Scratch, bold, provocative, lyrical and deeply moving, it is a masterpiece of our time. 

Released in 2020, Little Scratch, Rebecca Watson’s debut novel a successful experiment in form, shortlisted for both the Goldsmiths and Desmond Elliot Prize this year, reads like a musical score. It charts a day in the life of an unnamed woman who is in the grips of trauma, as she deals with the aftermath of a sexual assault. Dissonant, contrapuntal and fractured are her thoughts and seemingly impossible to stage. However, writer Miriam Battle adapts this stream of consciousness into an intoxicating and riveting stage play, which under Mitchell’s direction, is a stunning piece of live theatre. 

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

REVIEW: Anything is Possible if You Think About it Hard Enough at the Southwark Playhouse

Small Things Theatre Company’s latest show is a lyrical and beautifully staged tale of love and loss. ‘Anything is Possible if You Think About it Hard Enough’, charts Alex and Rupert’s love story from the tender and clumsy meeting, courting, falling in love and eventual pregnancy. 

Rupert, a self-confessed ‘numbers man’, a Mother’s boy, who says things like ‘twerp’ and fiddlesticks’ bumps into Alex, a self-possessed young woman armed with charming and witty one-liners. The synchronicity of their chance encounter on the underground reinforces Rupert’s belief and faith in the power of numbers and patterns, like geometry, an alignment out which there is order in the world. The slick and satisfying delivery would convince even the most cynical theatre-goer in this instance of the same. 

However, when 1+1 doesn’t = 3 and their baby is stillborn, they are catapulted into grief. 

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

REVIEW: The Memory of Water at the Hampstead Theatre

After 18 months, of living through a global pandemic, you’d be forgiven for thinking twice before booking tickets to see a play that focuses on grief, memory and loss. However, this Olivier award-winning comedy is exactly what the doctor ordered and is indeed inspired programming by recently appointed artistic director Roxanna Silbert. The Memory of Water which premiered at the Hampstead Theatre in 1996, is in fact, just the antidote for a covid-fatigued audience. 

Shelagh Stephenson’s sharp, witty and poignant play is about three sisters, Teresa (Lucy Black), Mary (Laura Rogers) and Catherine (Carolina Main), who after years of separation, come together before their mother's funeral. As they grapple with her passing and the ensuing breakdown of familial etiquette, different versions of childhood events and family History rise to the surface. Unable to agree on any given point of any memory, the siblings squabble and it is whilst navigating the indiscrepancies of their versions of the past, they are forced to face the present and their own hidden lies and self-betrayals. Celebrating the familial bond, it is very entertaining and farcical. However, it poses more serious questions about the (un)reliability of memory, the illusiveness of time and the devastating effects of grief which manifest differently in the three sisters.
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