Pickle Jar by Maddie Rice @ Soho Theatre

Written and performed by Maddie Rice
Directed by Katie Pesskin
23rd October- 10th November

 An incredible, moving and important show.

I loved this piece. I loved every single minute of it. It is an incredibly important show  that needs to be seen by everyone.

Pickle Jar, Soho Theatre - Maddie Rice (Courtesy of Ali Wright) (15)

Pickle Jar is a one-woman lyrical play exploring teaching, Tinder, stranger danger and trying to be a grownup. It is written and performed by Maddie Rice, the critically acclaimed star of Fleabag UK and International Tour. Rice has the audience in stitches for most of the play with her hilarious impressions of the teenage girls she teaches.

The play is very cleverly constructed with Rice revealing tiny bits of information at a time. This makes the sad reality of the story even more shocking. This piece is very relatable to young women with its hilarious dance moves and talks of that annoying ‘everything in my life is perfect’ friend. But, this piece also packs a serious punch, one which made me cry and made me angry.

This is a show I would recommend very highly. An incredible, important show and an emotional roller coaster in all the right ways.

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The Wild Duck, after Henrik Ibsen @ The Almeida Theatre

Cast and Creatives:
Nicholas Day, Grace Doherty, Nicholas Farrell, Andrea Hall, Kevin Harvey, Edward Hogg, Lyndsey Marshal, Clara Read, Rick Warden
After Henrik Ibsen, in a new version created by Robert Icke
Design: Bunny Christie
Light: Elliot Griggs
Sound: Tom Gibbons
Casting: Julia Horan CDG

15th October- 1st December

The-Wild-Duck-at-the-Almeida.-Lyndsey-Marshal-and-Edward-Hogg.-Photo-credit-Manuel-Harlan-(3)

A bold re-imagining of classic Ibsen

I was very excited to see this piece at The Almeida Theatre, being a fan of director Robert Icke; Icke’s previous credits for The Almeida include Hamlet and Mary Stuart.

The Wild Duck explores the family life of James and Gina Ekdal and exposes the life-destroying secrets which lie behind the couple’s happy pretenses. Icke has modernised the production and it has a Brechtian feel. The actors break the fourth wall constantly by explaining their characters feelings and what is going on in the scene. This is a very interesting technique which at first keeps the near three hour piece feeling snappy and fresh. However, as the play went on this technique became slightly patronising.

All actors in this remarkable piece are excellent. The play is extremely captivating due to their fantastic storytelling skills. When the disastrous consequences are revealed for the Ekdal family, the audience were gasping and muttering. It felt like the audience were part of the family, which is what made the play so moving and heartbreaking.

The show is beautifully designed by Bunny Christie. The set is minimal and naturalistic but turns into a beautiful garden at the end of the piece.

The Wild Duck is a fantastic modern take on Ibsen’s classic play. It is exceptionally well directed and all the performances brilliant and captivating. This is a piece which is not to be missed.

Also, there is a real live duck on stage!

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Rallying Cry, Apples and Snakes @ Battersea Arts Centre

Presented by Apples and Snakes
Directed by Rob Watt
4 – 6 October

Apples and Snakes create spaces for unheard voices to be heard and champion poets and poetry. Rallying Cry is a immersive performance exploring Battersea Arts Centre as part of Apples and Snakes 35 year anniversary celebrations.

The space was alive when I stepped into the venue. The previous audience who had the 7.30 slot were all gathered on the stairs of the grand space with a choir performing in front of them. The atmosphere was fantastic and I was excited for my slot to begin.

However, when the performance began it was very chaotic and felt disorganised. The audience were split into groups with a title (mine was Campaigner) yet there was no context to this grouping, it felt like a convenient way to split the audience. Our Leader was pleasant yet failed to rally up the audience therefore it did not feel at all like a protest and the atmosphere was very flat.

There were four spoken word performances that I saw as part of my journey, all of which were very interesting and had captivating moments. Two of these pieces were exceptional, the audience were engaged and the pieces were very moving. However, the other two pieces were interesting but lacked passion and power behind the words therefore it was difficult for the audience to engage or relate.

An excellent element of this performance was that the show had a great community feel to it. There was a performance from the BAC Beatbox Academy and a local choir. Both of these performances were fun and filled with energy.

This show has lots of potential and is a great night out to enjoy some poetry, music and the more quirky elements such as the Beatbox group. It doesn’t feel very powerful which was disappointing considering the content of the speeches.

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Oliver With a Twist, Shit-Faced Showtime @ Leicester Square Theatre

 Leicester Square Theatre- 5th-8th September 2018
Magnificent Bastard Productions
Directed by Katy Baker

Image of Shit-faced Showtime: Oliver with a Twist

Shit-Faced Showtime returns to the Leicester Square Theatre after a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018. The sister company of the famous and outrageous Shit Faced Shakespeare (whose Merchant of Venice we reviewed last year) make their way through a slick one-hour version of Oliver, with some songs that may be dated ever so slightly out of the Victorian era thrown in on the way. As always, the show features one fabulously drunk (and quite brave) cast member.

This show is really really fun. As to be expected the show is a bit of a lottery as a different performer gets drunk every night. The night I went was the turn of Oliver to be drunk. She was a charming drunk despite throwing half eaten food into the audience which had the audience gasping and in stitches… apart from the man sitting beside me who seemed ever so slightly annoyed to have a half-eaten sausage land on his head but hey, that feeling that anything could happen adds to the magic of piece.

Another great thing about this show is that the singing is very, very good which surprised some audience members. A famous musical theatre song is sung beautifully by one character (I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing the song). It may be less beautiful if that certain character is drunk! Another standout moment was when Oliver claimed he was a descendant of Dame Maggie Smith, to great comedic effect. My only criticism is that Shit-Faced Showtime tends to overuse sexual innuendos as a cheap comedic fallback, and I feel bolder choices could be made from this talented cast.

Overall, a very entertaining show which the audience greatly enjoyed; it’s a long time since I’ve heard that many people in hysterics at the theatre! Don’t bring your granny, but Oliver With A Twist is a fun night out with friends.

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Shitfaced Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet @ Leicester Square Theatre

Developed by Magnificent Bastard Productions
Original Direction and adaption- Lewis Ironside
Director and Lead Producer- Stacey Norris

23rd June- 1st September- Leicester Square Theatre

A Great Night out

shtfaceshakespeare-copyright-al-overdrive-700.jpgMagnificent Bastard Productions have been running shitfaced Shakespeare for eight years. The show is always a hit and a must see at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The unique idea behind Shitfaced Shakespeare is that one actor is outrageously drunk. The other four or five actors are all completely sober and have to stumble their way through the piece. This year it was the turn of the famous love story ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

The actor who is drunk changes each night. Last night it was Juliet who was drunk which was very funny. The actress was an entertaining drunk and came across well, she was very likeable. The first half of the play was great and the audience were in hysterics. The rest of the cast are very strong, particularly Romeo who was very quick at improvisation when Juliet threw some tricky situations his way.

However, as the play went on the focus began to drift and the play got a bit hectic. I feel the company need to add something different and exciting in the second half of the play to keep the audience engaged. This performance was very funny but there were too many sexual innuendos from sober cast members which were not needed.

Shitfaced Shakespeare is a great night out and a must see for all comedy fans. I believe it would be enjoyed more by those who are not sober. So grab some drinks and a couple of mates and enjoy Shakespeare as the man himself would have wanted you too.

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Machinal @ The Almedia Theatre

4th June-21 July 2018

by Sophie Treadwell

Directed by Natalie Abrahami

One of the best plays I’ve seen in a long time. 

Love!- What does it amount to! Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills?”

machinal2

Sophie Treadwell’s 1928 play ‘Machinal’ is set in modern day New York City and at times it is scarily relevant to the climate today. The directorial decision to set this play in the modern world makes for a very interesting and eye-opening evening.

Machinal is inspired by the true story of Ruth Snyder who was executed for murdering her abusive husband. The play is spilt into nine episodes which each give a different insight into the main character’s life e.g business, home and family life. These short bursts of action are intimate and explosive making the play very gripping throughout the entire piece.

The performances by the whole company are very captivating. The ensemble represent a machine in several scenes which is done flawlessly. The leads Emily Berrington and Jonathon Livingston are both excellent. There were times I felt hate for Jones (played by Jonathon Livingston) and both empathy and fear for Emily Berrington’s character. The characters are fascinating and it was very easy for me to connect with them.

The set design by Miriam Buether is stunning. A cleverly placed mirror gives another view of the stage which I found myself watching at times and this portrayed some beautiful imagery.

Every aspect of the theatre process comes together beautifully in this play and the whole piece feels like a machine, which perfectly represents life in a busy city. Emily Berrington’s portrayal of the main character leaves the audience to decide whether they believe she is a victim of circumstance and abuse or a mentally ill person. The eerie play finished on the line of ‘I will not submit’ which feels like a woman rebelling.

I would thoroughly recommend seeing this play for its interesting portrayal of the 1928 feminist play and the incredible set design.

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A Fortunate Man, New Perspective @ Camden People’s Theatre

Written and directed by Michael Pinchbeck

Thursday 14th June- Saturday 16th June- Camden People’s Theatre

Friday 22nd June- The Pound Arts Centre

Sunday 24th June- Blackfriars Theatre and Arts Centre, Boston, Lincolnshire

Wednesday 1st August- Sunday 26th August- Summerhall, Edinburgh Fringe Festival

An intellectual look into a Country Doctor’s life

A Fortunate Man Matthew Brown credit Julian Hughes

New Perspectives Theatre Company have developed this play based on the book ‘A Fortunate Man’ by John Berger. The play follows the story of the day-to-day life of a country doctor, John Sassell. John Berger and Swiss photographer Jean Mohr created this book which is still widely read by medical professionals. Sadly, the doctor John Sassell killed himself after the book was published. The play also explores the doctor’s personal life and his mental heath.

The storyline of this play is interesting and the script is very good, some lines are direct quotes from John Berger’s book, and the quotes are very touching. However, it did feel like the audience were given a lot of information at once which made it hard to connect. The information was delivered through a microphone and read as if we were attending a conference. This style was clever but I feel the play would be more engaging if there had been more action on stage.

Both actors Matthew Brown and Hayley Doherty are strong and have a fantastic and energetic relationship on stage together. The performers and storyline make it easy for the audience to empathise with the doctor and also to feel involved in the community in which he lived in.

The set was quite plain and simple which worked nicely and fitted the piece. There are projections of both the life of Sassell but also of the NHS today. These pictures were interesting but the current ones of the NHS didn’t have much effect on the audience.

A very interesting play and an important story to be told.

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Three Sisters (Tour), RashDash/Royal Exchange Theatre @ The Yard

22 May – 9 June 2018
The Yard, Hackney

12 – 16 June, 2018
Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol

Turning classical theatre upside down in the most brilliant way.

RashDash - Three Sisters Production Photos (photographer credit The Other Richard) (3)

Feminist theatre company RashDash take on Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov and turn it into a modern version with a new perspective with a drum kit, electric guitars and a brilliant sense of daring and nerve.

This version was a wonderful example of taking a classical play, turning it on its head and adapting it to fit a young 2018 audience. There are lots of Theatre companies which try to adapt classical plays to fit a modern audience, most commonly to be set in a modern environment but the majority are all very similar to each other. However the RashDash adaptation was original, absurd and hilarious. It was an almost perfect example of a classical play adapted to fit a modern audience.

RashDash strip the male parts out of the play and focuses on the titular sisters and the relationship between them. Olga, Masha and Irena are played by Abbi Greenland, Helen Goelen and Becky Wilkie, who each are exceptional actors, whose on-stage relationships are wonderful and full of natural chemistry. The play explores what the three sisters would talk about if they lived in our current society, the dialogue was very relatable and funny. It was fantastic to see recognisable ‘normal’ modern woman represented on stage. I cried with laughter at points in the show. The music too is exceptional, and the two actor/musicians Chloe Rianna and Yoon-Ji Kim were very entertaining.

This show is really fun. It’s filled with bright lights, nudity, funny conversations and some cracking music. It’s not only a great piece of theatre but also a great night out. Go and see this show to experience Chekhov as you’ve never seen it before.

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Madhouse re:exit, Access All Areas @ Shoreditch Town Hall

13 – 28 of March

Created by Access all Areas
Directed by Nick Llewellyn

MADHOUSE reexit, Shoreditch Town Hall, credit of Helen Murray (8)

Photography by Helen Murray

Everybody needs to see this show.

It is an outstanding piece of political theatre. Interesting, captivating, and heartbreaking.

MadHouse is created by Access All Areas, an award-winning theatre company who work with artists with learning disabilities. The show is an immersive show performed in Shoreditch Town Hall.

When I got to the venue, there was an interesting exhibition on Haperbury Hospital, an ex-hospital for people with learning disabilities. The facts and pictures were shocking, and it does raise questions as to why this history isn’t taught in schools. I was also given a leaflet to ‘Paradise Fields’, a new corporate care facility, some pages were scarily relevant to the modern world.

The audience were going on a tour of ‘Paradise Fields’. I have to admit I felt slightly scared going down to tour this care home, there was a very eerie atmosphere but a feeling of curiosity within the audience. As the audience were toured around the care home we were exposed to the glossy, creepy staff and rooms in the modern day care home. It all felt too good to be true and the audience were expecting and waiting to see what happened next. As the tour went on the audience were taken away from the tour guides by ‘The Escapist’ played by David Munns to be given a different tour of the shocking truths behind ‘Paradise Fields.’

As we continued to move around the space, we met five characters who all told there own stories about living in the care home and the stories also linked to the modern society we live in. These five characters were all captivating actors and the scenes were interesting, all very different and heart-breaking. All the different scenes were devised by the cast members based on the research for the play and there own experiences as learning disabled artists. My particular favourite were ‘The Goddess’ played by Imogen Roberts and ‘The Eater’ played by Dayo Koleosho. Both these scenes had an incredible concept and set design behind them which was very unique. The performers were also captivating and relatable.

There were some  pacing hiccups however. There were times when the audience were waiting for two minutes to be moved on. I felt that these needed to be faster so that the audience could stay in the world the show created.

Do not miss this show.

The immersive world the company has created is brilliant, as are the performances. The show makes the audience question England’s current society but also makes you question your own perceptions of people with learning disabilities.

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Das Fest @ The Vaults

28 February – 4 March, 2018

Created and performed by ‘Vienna’s Master Illusionist’ Phillip Oberlohr

Philipp Oberlohr's Das Fest at VAULT Festival (courtesy Daniel Haingartner) (7).JPG

Photography by Daniel Haingartner

The Vault Festival is a very cool place. If you haven’t been yet, you need to go.

Last night I attended Das Fest by Philipp Oberlohr and I have to say it’s one of my highlights of the festival so far. On a snowy winter’s night, I went out in the cold to make my way to the show. I’m a sceptical person and I must admit I felt a little unsure about the prospect of going to a mind reading show. It’s all a trick surely? However, when I left the theatre an hour later, I felt happier, slightly confused and my mind was pulsing with questions like ‘How did he do that?’ and I felt very glad I had come to the show that evening.

Das Fest is the sequel to Das Spiel which was awarded the People’s choice award in 2016. I was excited and curious to see what was going to happen in this new show. The atmosphere was buzzing when I walked into the room, the audience were waiting, slightly nervously too see what was in store for them.

Now, the best thing about Das Fest is the surprise element. I don’t want to ruin it so I’m not going to write about what is going to happen to the audience in the show. However, what I can say was that Philipp Oberlohr is a charming performer. He is captivating, likeable and trustworthy. Despite the underlying fear the audience felt like they could talk to him, with one audience member staying on stage for most of the show! There was some wonderful imagery created in the show, my particular favourite involving a white umbrella and a black umbrella. The images created on stage were beautiful.

I thoroughly enjoyed Das Fest and would recommend seeing it for an entertaining evening. The physical theatre elements used in the show were excellent, as was the imagery and the performance. Go to the show, take some friends with you and then enjoy the ‘But how did he do that?!’ conversation which will inevitably happen in the bar afterwards.

 

 

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