Big This Week

Recent Posts

Sunday, 1 May 2022

REVIEW: The Red by Original Theatre (Online)

The Critics Circle Awards announced on 3rd April that they would be giving The Original Theatre a commendation for Exceptional Theatre Making During Lockdown. More than any other Theatre Company they demonstrated extraordinary innovation and creativity as they developed their techniques to create compelling and gripping streamed drama for our home consumption. They are at their best when the production takes on a cinematic feel while retaining the sense of being live as in the wonderful Into the Night in December 2021. This latest offering is completely different. The Red is a very polished theatrical staging of a radio play filmed in a single location in the Vaults. It is very well acted and produced with a powerful very personal feeling message but lacks the energy, drama, and innovation of some of last year’s work.

The Red (not to be confused with Red, the John Logan play about Mark Rothko) is a story about temptation and grief written by Marcus Brigstocke originally for Radio 4 reflecting on his own battles with alcoholism. Benedict has been a recovering alcoholic for 25 years having become addicted at 17, he says the addiction started before his first drink. We find him in the cellar of his father’s house while his father’s wake is taking place upstairs reading a letter as part of the executors’ instructions. Surrounded by 948 bottles of wine, his father regrets that they never drank the 1978 bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild together which he laid down when Benedict was born. The hour-long drama then becomes a will he won’t he battle as he debates with his father in his head whether it is safe to have just one glass.

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

REVIEW: Into the Night by Original Theatre

How do you tell the story of a tragic Cornish maritime disaster to a new audience which honours the lives lost, is sensitive to the feelings of those left behind, captures the bravery of those who follow those lost at sea and creates a drama that is engaging for the viewer who already know the outcome of the disaster? If you also plan to stage this on the 40th anniversary of the disaster in the middle of a global pandemic when plan B lockdown has been implemented, it creates an extraordinary challenge to everyone involved.  

Original Theatre seem to have grasped the creative nettle and over the last few years produced some fascinating hybrid works part live theatre, part cinema, part streamed story telling. With each production you can see how they have learned from their experimentation and innovation. This latest piece is an eighty-minute docudrama, Into the Night, captured for streaming on a first run through technical rehearsal on 17th December 2021 and is well worth watching before it stops on 20th February.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

REVIEW: A Cold Supper Behind Harrods from the Oxford Playhouse (Original Theatre)

Original Theatre continues to lead the way in Streamed content with their eleventh online production of the last year. This time it is a live staged reading of a radio play from the stage of the Oxford Playhouse Theatre with scripts in hand after a half-day of read-throughs and a day of technical rehearsal with the cameras. It might help that the marvellous three lead actors had all performed in it before in 2012 on the radio, although Anton Lesser admitted afterwards he did not remember that performance! Philip Franks directed the piece for the stream with a clever addition of an actress appearing as the ghost of Patricia, the Special Operations Executive operative captured by the Gestapo immediately as she landed in occupied France.

David Morley's script is based on real-life characters from the Second World War, the code breaker Leo Marks and the intelligence Officer Vera Atkins who reported to Colonel Maurice Buckmaster who headed the French section. He imagines a meeting fifty years after the war between them and a fictional character John Harrison who was captured in France and was held in German prisoner of war camps from July 1943 until liberation in April 1945. Harrison sent messages back to London from France which led to Patricia, who both Marks and Harrison love, being dropped into France.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

REVIEW: A Splinter of Ice by Original Theatre at the Cheltenham Everyman Theatre (Online)

Original Theatre online has produced some very interesting, good quality streamed shows over the last year including the pertinent and touching Good Grief and the intriguing monologues of Barnes People. The latest full-length play is Ben Brown’s new political drama, A Splinter Of Ice which is a fascinating exploration of friendship and isolation of spies and spy literature. Captured by Tristan Shepherd with three cameras on the stage of the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, it justifies the relatively high streamed price and is available until 31st July.

The play focuses on the last meeting of the author and former MI6 agent Graham Greene with one of the notorious Russian spies, Kim Philby in his rather poorly furnished flat in Moscow in February 1987 and is based on true events and relationships. Their conversation reviews their past time together and the motivations for their actions and the way they have been portrayed in novels and the media since. It is wordy with lots of necessary exposition, but the writing engages us both in understanding a most significant episode in the cold war and the understanding and friendship between these two famous people.
Blog Design by pipdig