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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.
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