Recent Posts

Monday, 8 July 2019

Review: Shadows at the Tristan Bates Theatre

The Tristan Bates Theatre is always a good place to go to see new writing and strong emerging artists. This time, before they head up to the Edinburgh Fringe with their two-person play Shadows, Want the Moon Theatre presents us with a story by Dan Sareen who, in a non-linear way, tells of two twenty-somethings in London who happen to start working at a pub together. 

Through lighting changes designed by Joe Pilling, we are told different versions of this story, how their friendship could have gone different ways, the miscommunication which happens between the characters and the way a canvas can only be repainted on so often. This is very interestingly illustrated by a set which has objects painted all in white. This is the blank canvas, which even has film projected onto it in between sequences. The short pieces of film show the two protagonists Nat (Madeline Hatt) and James (Ross White) in love, getting married and having a child. Meanwhile, we keep seeing Nat at a piano, playing classical and modern rock music.

The play opens on the theme of music, with the two playing a guessing game at the pub to pass the time. Nat reveals that she wants to be a classical pianist, and is auditioning, sometimes failing at rising to the next level. In the film, we see her sometimes struggling to press the piano keys. This theme struck me, because things can go very well in your love life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the artistic life will flourish, and that is a painful thought. However, you can’t choose between one or the other. Moreover, while the videos are playing, Nat is actually sitting on the stage watching them, while James goes backstage: she is faced with herself and the course of her life, watching how things unfold. Is this what she wants? Can she really accept James’s love, a question violently posed at the end of the play?

Sunday, 31 March 2019

REVIEW: Half Me, Half You at the Tristan Bates Theatre

With our current political climate garnering unease and some backwards steps in regards to racism and homophobia, it seems that ‘Half Me, Half You’ – a play with the tagline What if you were black, gay and a woman in America right now– is ideal for now. The play takes place in two different time zones – with a confrontation between married couple Jess and Meredith in 2017, and a confrontation in 2033 between Meredith and mixed race teenager Maya.

Whilst the idea of the play is bang on the money for our time, the execution however was less so. For me Liane Grant’s writing dragged, often repeating the same argument over and over again each act, leaving a scene repetitive and all on one note. Her exciting and fresh ideas towards a second American Civil War felt underwritten, whereas whilst she has very important and valid points on adoption, IVF and white supremacy through the play, they soon became over exhausted and lost impact. Also, whilst the play is naturalistic in delivery, the exposition felt clunky and the writing left the audience struggling to understand what was going on. Plus when the characters keep crying again and again in the same scene even the most experienced actors would struggle to keep the emotion real and raw.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

REVIEW: Do You Love This Planet? at the Tristan Bates Theatre

I was just listening to a lecture about film that explained how during World War II, there were some notable films that preferred to praise the importance of fighting for a cause than for personal desires. And then, I walked into this play.

“Do you love this planet?” is a three-person play revolving around Rachel (Lucy Lowe), a 30-something mother who we meet as she wakes up next to her husband Schumann. She’s proud to have recently been appointed the position of PR officer for an environmental defence group, FFF. The group’s slogan, “Do you love this planet?”, has been on her mind. She’s taking it very seriously, as one should, really, except that so many of us don’t! As the play progresses, we understand how each word in the slogan has its importance, and how we should really ask ourselves whether we love our planet like we do our children. 

Rachel’s teenage son Alan, hooked on his smartphone and of the generation that no longer believes in privacy, has a curiously close relationship to his mother, and the trio who live under the same roof seem less and less suited to each other as we learn about them. While screens show the characters being filmed, sometimes they seem more like animals than humans. 

Monday, 1 October 2018

REVIEW: 'The Problem with Fletcher Mott' & 'Butterfly lovers' at the Tristan Bates Theatre

The Melange New Musical Theatre Festival is organised by students from the Goldsmith, University of London MA Musical Theatre course and as its name suggests is a mixed collection of four new short works, presented as a double bill each performance. Such an enterprise is to be admired for its effort and creativity from the producers, composers, and artistes and no doubt provides amazing and rewarding learning and the trials and tribulations and joy of staging new work.

Any new musical takes time to develop and audience familiarity with the musical styles and content helps make an immediate impact. Many in the audience were friends and family and had that familiarity and responded enthusiastically to the work. As a reviewer, coming fresh to both pieces it is more difficult.

The black box environment of the Tristan Bates, fifteen minutes to set the stage and I am sure tiny production budgets places additional constraints on the show’s creators. On this first night we were treated to two very different pieces of work.

Friday, 13 July 2018

REVIEW: Locked Up at the Tristan Bates Theatre

This premiere of a new play written by Heather Simpkins, Locked up, produced by bear in the air productions and staged at the Tristan Bates Theatre is to be applauded for its intent: a London professional debut for the author and a young theatre company trying to develop new talent. The premise is simple, Declan , played by bear in the air founder , Samuel Ranger finds himself in a small brick room ten paces by ten paces square with no obvious door or windows when he suddenly finds he is joined by Topher, played by Connor Cook. Should they trust each other in order to work out where they are, why they are there and how to get out?

It is a sort of cross between Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter and Anthony Horowitz’s Mindgames as the relationship between the two men plays with the truth and reality of their situation and the threat of an unseen force outside of the room. In both these plays the room itself is like a third character. However in this play the room is implied by a low wall and grey curtains that flutter as the cast move and the action never consistently grabs the attention of the audience. In part this is as a result of the limitations of the venue and production budgets although in the Park Theatre’s Building the wall, the claustrophobic confined space of a cell was created much more effectively. 

Sunday, 21 January 2018

REVIEW: Bunny at Tristan Bates Theatre

Sparking controversy since 2010, Jack Thorne's Bunny is a challenging play on both sides of the stage. During a seventy-minute single act, audiences are taken on a rollercoaster monologue of casual violence, discrimination and shame, led by a confused but certainly outspoken schoolgirl from Luton. 

Katie (Catherine Lamb) has just turned 18 and is enjoying her first proper relationship with a guy who's older than her and black. Luckily, her parents read the Guardian, therefore open-minded enough to tolerate his ethnicity in a town where black, Asian and white people don't mix. 

Since the playwright has been frequently accused of promoting racism and social division, the delivery of these lines is vital to their interpretation as a sarcastic criticism of the current climate, rather than a way of endorsing it. 

Friday, 26 September 2014

REVIEW: Shoot, I didn't mean that/The Last Days of Mankind at The Tristan Bates theatre

The Tristan Bates theatre has opened its autumn season with a double-bill of plays that echo each other with stories going from after World War I to today.  These are Shoot, I didn’t mean that by Catriona Kerridge and The Last Days of Mankind: The Last Night by the Austrian Karl Kraus. What originally inspired this production is Time Zone Theatre and Austrian director Pamela Schermann, who invited British playwrights to respond to Kraus’s The Last Days of Mankind and is now presenting the winning playwright’s work. The result is tense and controversial.

Shoot, I didn’t mean that presents us with four very different girls and women who are in some way connected to the cynicism behind wars and politics. 

Firstly, two schoolgirls are struggling to stay still during two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day. “I really want to see War Horse”, one of them says. We ask ourselves: is that really all she can associate with World War I? And is it her fault, actually? Later, she and her friend plan to travel to Syria, or Iran, or Irak ("same thing") in order to witness something big. While they are used to watching war zones on the news, they don't realise that these do not represent the entire geographic area. 
Blog Design by pipdig