Frankenstein, Tea Break Theatre @ Sutton House

Read the interview with writer/director Katharine Armitage.

Written and Directed by Katharine Armitage
Featuring Jeff Scott, Molly Small, Jennifer Tyler, Chris Dobson, Katy Helps. 
17 October – 3 November 2018

Frankenstein, Sutton House - Courtesy of John Wilson (4)200 years after it was first published by a teenage girl writing under a pseudonym, Frankenstein finally gets the women it deserves.

The show in many ways feels like what Peter Jackson is going for with his recent project of colourising and dubbing WW1 footage. Mary Shelley’s novel finds new life, colour and dimension in this innovative immersive, in-situ production.

The gothic tale begins with pop-rock streaming from a tinny cassette player, welcoming us to the world of the real-life squatters who occupied Sutton House during the 1980s. Clever scripting weaves together the three layers of stories – that of the squatters, of Mary Shelley, and of Frankenstein – and before you know it you’re in the story.

By ‘in the story’, I do mean in the story. The immersive elements embed the audience not just in the house, but within the home of the Frankensteins. Never allowed to become too comfortable, each audience group follows different actors around the house, and like the characters themselves we only see windows into the world. Despite some ‘dead time’ (forgive the pun) created by this, it felt like an orchestra in which you get to know the flute player as a human rather than just an instrument.

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The biggest ‘pop’ of reality, however, comes from what director Katharine Armitage calls “finding the women”. Commendations must go to Katy Helps (Justine) and Jennifer Tyler (Elizabeth) for rescuing the female characters from the constraints of the 19th century, and to Molly Small (The Creature) for a performance that carried the extra burden of a gender layer to the questions raised about monstrosity, creation and destruction.

Although occasionally unsubtle in its delivery, this production of Frankenstein is nonetheless a wonderful and innovative adaptation that is recommended to everyone from the life-long Frankenstein fans to those whose only pre-existing image is of a green man with a bolt through his neck.

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Interview with writer/director Katharine Armitage – Frankenstein @ Sutton House

Please note – This interview racked up to almost 4,000 words. It has been heavily edited for brevity.

Read our review of Frankenstein HERE.

Frankenstein has been adapted many times since it was published 200 years ago. Why did you choose Frankenstein and what different take are you hoping to bring to it?

Well actually, I didn’t know about the 200 year anniversary when I had the idea. The idea to do Frankenstein came from [Sutton] House, came from learning about the 1980s when the house was derelict and taken over by a group of squatters who turned it into an arts venue. First, we just loved the feel of the eighties, because it’s actually quite 1818. They recycled a lot of regency looks in there dress and style, and you get the invention of steam punk. The eighties was also a big time for science fiction, and Frankenstein is arguably the first to codify the genre. The other lovely thing is that the characters live there but it feels like he house wasn’t made for them. There’s an idea of the ‘outsider’ in inverted commas, people who are in a system and a place that is not designed for them. They try to make it homely but it’s cavernous, then they try put science in it and it’s old and creaky. We were interested in that tension. Thinking about the squatters, and the outsider identity led us to thinking about Frankenstein…

I love Frankenstein. I studied it at school and since then I’ve been quietly obsessed with it. The origin story of a 19 year old writing this book, seemingly out of nowhere is a little mindboggling. The things that really interested me about this is that she’s this incredible woman – Mary Shelley – the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft who is in some ways the mother of modern feminism, and yet there are almost no women in Frankenstein. Elizabeth is there to die, she’s a victim. So is Justine. It’s interesting to think about why Mary Shelley would be diminishing women. When re-reading the book, I started to think ‘well, in one way it makes sense’. You couldn’t write about that. You have to be clever. But the more you read it, the more you think that the whole thing is about women, even though the women themselves are diminished, the whole thing is about being a thing that’s created by a man and then rejected, a thing that doesn’t live up to expectations. It’s all about motherhood and it’s all about the demands of society. I call it ‘finding the women’, where we’re trying to stay true to the text she could have written if there no pressures of getting it published or making men read it.

Your company performed Dracula last year, which also used immersive theatre. How does having the audience in the performance itself effect storytelling?

For me, the joy of immersive is that you’re there in the room with people. You don’t have a fourth wall, but at the same time, you don’t audiences are still aware that they’re an audience. What I want to do is a story that you’re so close to that you can smell it, and you’re scared it might touch you. When we had a vampire on stage [in last year’s production of Dracula], for example, and it would come near the audience members they would shrink back, and completely forget that it’s a five foot five female actor. For Frankenstein we’re doing something kind of different because we’re letting the audience become a little more invisible… It’s partly because of the intimacy of the story, and you’re seeing these really intimate moments between characters and start thinking ‘I really shouldn’t be’. That’s the joy of doing something immersive and yet ignoring the audience. They begin to feel that they’re spying on something. It creates this really lovely tension.

That jumps nicely into the question of monsters, and who the monster is in the room. I thought it would be interesting to define first what ‘monster’ and ‘monstrous’ mean in the context of Frankenstein.

I love that question actually. On a basic level, it’s distorted nature. Natural but unnatural. If you think about images of monsters, a really obvious one like Godzilla,  it’s something natural – a lizard – but expanded up into something monstrous… It’s always this heightened distorted version of nature. But the other definition is one of destruction. A monster destroys. And that’s what makes them different from a villain who plots, or an evil person who is usually bent on acquisition, mostly of power. A monster doesn’t have that, they just destroy, seemingly for no reason. That’s why they’re so scary because you can’t reason with them…

It’s an interesting question when you look at Victor. Is he a creator or is a destroyer? And The Creature – are they creating their new life or are they a destroyer? If you create something that then becomes destructive, who really is the monster? And then when you do bring the women out of the shadows in the story, then there’s other elements of destruction or creation that come from the characters. Again I think that’s why this story is really about women, because it’s so much about the arrogance of man and the potential monstrosity within human kind and particularly within men… The other element is mutability. You can become monstrous. The question becomes, ‘is that their fault?’ and ‘is it justified?’. Don’t we all have that slight bit inside us that wants to just tear stuff up?

You’ve paralleled the impossible expectations The Creature faces with those faced by women. How would you say those have changed since 50, 100 or even 200 years ago?

I’m not sure they’re that different. Obviously the situation has changed hugely, for the better, but sometimes it feels like the expectations are not too dissimilar. It feels like they’ve just expanded. I think kids now might give you a different answer, but I grew up with the Disney fairy stories and I love them but the expectations in all of that is about marriage. Even for queer women, the way that society has dealt with it is by saying ‘okay, fine, fine, but we still want you to get married and have a family!’… I’ve been to a lot of weddings this year, and it’s great, but there’s still the same expectations. The bride is expected, demanded to be the most beautiful she’s ever been, to be elegant. These days it’s added that she’s expected to push the boundaries a little, maybe to make a small speech, but not too much. It’s complicated because people say ‘I want to be beautiful’ and that’s totally fine, but I wonder if we didn’t have those expectations if people would still want that…

You can be strong but you still have to be docile. I have quite a loud voice and I get told to be quite by men quite a lot. I’m allowed to be strong, but not loud. And not angry. Anger is not allowed for women, in the same way that anger is not allowed for men, which is a huge, huge problem that I would love to write about, but that’s for another play.

The other thing is that women are expected to be good. You have to be the safe space for children, and yes there’s a biological aspect to that but you’re not allowed to go off the track too much. You can be strong but you have to be good, and you have to behave, even if I don’t give you any reason to behave. And that’s the interesting thing with Victor and The Creature. It’s difficult because if you’re not good, you’re very quickly labelled unreasonable, or destructive, and you can’t be trusted. Even Mary Shelley, who in many ways was such a rebel, wanted most of all to marry and have babies. Despite shaking things up so much, she still wanted to be good, because that’s how you get accepted. Again, that’s what Frankenstein is all about. Acceptance, and wanting to be accepted… And then of course there’s the other interesting issue of the parents failing expectations as well. Babies very quickly develop expectations of the parents, and that is a process of constant disappointment as neither fully matches the others expectations.

Before we finish, is there any question you wish I’d ask you? Anything we’ve missed?

The only thing I’d like to highlight is the process of adaptation. I do mess with things, but what I’m aiming for is that you mess with things and people kind of feel like you haven’t. The best adaptations are when they’ve changed something and you see it and think ‘oh but I think that was in the book’. People coming to the show who know the book, what I’m hoping they’ll get is the sense of the spirit of the book, but also feel like this is a story that was hiding in the book. Adaptations should be part of a dialogue that takes you back to the original text, and makes you say ‘oh I can see now why they would say that’. I want people to see it as a conversation with the book.

Read our review of Frankenstein HERE.

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Super Hamlet 64 @ The Cockpit

Produced and presented by Eddy Day

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Trans/non-binary performer Eddy Day has many talents, and all of them are on display in this 90 minute show – song, mime, banter, many musical instruments, creative animation. It’s an exploration of what games mean to us and how we struggle with roles society imposes.

Despite Day’s skill, the show drags – it’s hard for one actor to maintain energy for over an hour, playing multiple characters with increasingly similar accents. Long segments felt unnecessary but for a single, simple joke or reference which frequently failed to support the show’s overarching message.

The music and projections were impressive, but not enough to support the text, which staggered under the the weight of lengthy quotation from a range of high and low culture texts.

The script was strongest when Day was original – there’s a few good monologues in there about living up to expectations and coming to terms with death – but the accompanying full 12 point font A4 page of video games referenced shows that there’s not enough focus in the show.

Full disclosure: I am obsessed with Hamlet. I’ve directed the play, I have most of it memorised, read essays about it for fun.

At one point, Day states, with ukulele accompaniment, that they’ve stuck pretty close to the spirit of the original. And they have, to an extent. Hamlet is also very long and discursive and filled with odd asides which add little to the main text. Day, as I’m sure they’re aware, is no Shakespeare. They’re clearly fond of the play, but has failed to interrogate or transform it.

In this production, Hamlet is simply another text to be quoted, as meaningful as any of the many, many video games which are referenced. It provides flavour, but could have been replaced with any other tragedy.

Secondary disclosure: I love video games. I sunk seven hours into Curse of Monkey Island last week and have strong opinions about Metal Gear.

Again – the video games are just there to provide flavour. There are so many touched on – through word play or complex visual presentations – that none of them are meaningful. A ten minute Portal reference? A motorcycle riding Ophelia? Rosa and Crash and Guile and Stan? It becomes noise, distracting from the core of what Day seems to be trying to get at.

Buried under the flurry of references, there’s a good 45 minute show about expectations and mortality, but it has to be exhumed from a pile of extraneous nonsense so tall it makes Ossa a wart.

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Just William’s Luck, Shedload Theatre @ Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe

4th – 27th August 2018

Iron Belly, UnderBelly, Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Devised by Jonathan Massey, Matthew Barnes and company.
Cast: Jonathan Massey, Davey Lias, Thomas Gutteridge, Greg Arundell and Louise Waller.

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Hot on the back of a tour that travelled to regional theatres in the UK and Poland then London, Shedload Theatre company have arrived at the Edinburgh Fringe.

And the Fringe doesn’t know what’s hit it!

Have you ever rewatched an episode of The Simpsons as an adult and are hit with how brilliantly written and performed the show is? That as a kid you got it on one level and as an adult, you understand it on a whole new level.

That is what Shedload Theatre’s production of Just William’s Luck perfectly executes.

This show could quite easily be a family friendly kids show that you might take your 3-year-old niece along to and endure.

But it is rather bloody marvellous and rip-roaringly hilarious for absolutely anybody and everybody.

Based on an original Richmal Crompton book and incorporating elements of the text into the show, it is essentially a play within a play. The ‘outlaw’s (a group of children led by William), put on a play of an adventure that happened to them all when questing as ‘Gnight’s of the Round Table’ trying to right ‘rongs’. The outlaw’s use whatever they find around them in their den to tell the story.

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Crafting together a horse, the famous actress Gloria Gay, using odds and sods to become the defining adults in William’s life and so much more.

Just William’s Luck is one of the most inventive pieces of storytelling I have ever seen.

Using buckets of physical theatre, puppetry and singing, this story is executed brilliantly.

To be honest, there is nothing I can fault about this production. I can not think of a single human being who would not enjoy this show.

The cast are buckets full of energy, vibrancy and a jolly good sense of humour which makes them all fantastic and engaging storytellers.

They are flexible and any small mistakes that happen in the show become utterly perfect and enjoyable as you can see how clearly they all have each other’s back.

I loved this show! Plain and simple, I utterly loved it!

If you are at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer and want to have a jolly good hour of your life, then go and see this show!

My wish as a reviewer is that this show will continue afterwards and continue to do amazing things.

 

Bluebird @ The Space  

24 July – 4 August, 2018

by Simon Stephens
Directed by Adam Hemming
Presented by Space Productions

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I ventured to The Space in East London on a warm Wednesday evening to watch Bluebird by Olivier award-winning playwright Simon Stephens, and I have no regrets. Upon entering the square black box theatre I was surprised by the dynamic staging of a raised platform shaped as a cross with seating in each corner. As I sat listening to ‘All Saints’ singing ‘Never ever have I ever felt so low…’ (on hindsight, a perfect choice) nothing could prepare me for the stories I was about to be told (and how brilliantly they were told!).

We followed the working day of taxi driver Jimmy Macneill, played by the incredibly talented John Kearne, as he drives a diverse range of people down the streets of London. Within the scene’s each ‘fare’ (the person getting the taxi) opens up to Jimmy, sharing secrets, experiences and opinions. This text-based show could have been a lengthy nightmare. However, it was successfully put together by the director Adam Hemming who obviously had an eye for detail, which is incredibly important in such an intimate space. Each scene was given the space to breathe yet kept its pace, and the text was certainly the focus (as it should be with Simon Stephen’s words!). The naturalistic style was on point, especially the driving by John Kearne, and it allowed us to be completely immersed in the characters and their stories.

Subtle, yet effective transitions lead our eyes to different points of the stage and were an essential break between the emotional storytelling. Similarly the props and set were minimal and always relevant. It is important for the space to not be overcrowded when the focus is on the actors, especially when you have a cast like this one! I was blown away by the talent on stage; one of the first ‘fares’ in Jimmy’s taxi was Robert Greenwood, played by the captivating Mike Duran who delivered his monologue with such honesty and emotion that I could not hold help but hang off his every word. Similarly, Anna Dolan, who played the role of Jimmy’s wife Clare Macneill, was a force to be reckoned with. She is the type of actress I could watch perform every night for a year and still be amazed.

Space productions drove me to reflect on my own life, and consider the hopes and regrets people live with each day. An incredible piece of writing matched with an incredible cast… you would be crazy not to go see it!

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Lamplighters, Rogue Productions @ The Old Red Lion Theatre

24 July – 18 August 2018

Created by Neil Connolly and Dean Rodgers
Rogue Productions

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Winner of the London’s VAULT Festival 2018’s People’s Choice Award, Lamplighters is a hard-to-forget night out. Neil Connolly plays host in a part spy-thriller, part improv-comedy farse that sees it’s audience moonlight as secret agents with hysterical results.

The show takes you through a very familiar spy adventure plot with clandestine meetings and high-pressure heists. The catch is that Connoly himself only hosts, every shady character, corpse, location, mission objective and piece of musical score, is plucked from the audience.

It’s just a ton of fun. No other way to put it. Even if you don’t want to participate, this show will have you in stitches.

Connoly is a magnetic and very charismatic host. the mechanics of the show’s gameplay is very clever, the lights and props and staging work wonderfully to enhance and create all sorts of comedic effects, which are entirely participatory in the shows descending chaos.

As with all improv comedy, I imagine it’s very dependant on the audience on the night. I was lucky enough to be in a group who revelled in the experience as much as Neil himself did, and who happened to be hilarious in their own right. It was a big bonus for me, but I can guess that even on a bad night this will be a show that leaves you grinning from ear-to-ear.

If you are looking for a good night out with a mate, look no further.

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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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I am of Ireland @ The Old Red Lion Theatre

5 -30 June, 2018

by Seamus Finnegan
Directed by Ken McClymont

Shenagh Govan and Euan Macnaughton in I AM OF IRELAND, credit of Michael Robinson

As I enter The Red Lions Pub Theatre on a busy Friday evening ready to watch the exciting new play ‘I AM OF IRELAND’ by Seamus Finnegan, I realise I have little knowledge of the history of the Troubles in Ireland. But, I’m telling you now, I was certainly about to be told.

The dimly lit black box theatre was creatively designed with rope, chairs, paintings and wooden crosses all hanging (as though frozen in the middle of an earthquake) against two walls; a busy backdrop to the large wooden square outlining the stage. Music was playing, not particularly emotional, just light hearted and (of course) Irish related. The show began with the patriotic song Ireland’s Call sung acapella as the cast filtered into the space one by one, dressed (some of them comically) as well known Irish stereotypes. All singing with equal enthusiasm. The atmosphere created was one of unity and pride, you couldn’t help but smile and wish you knew the words to sing along.

The beginning certainly transported us to Ireland and gave us an insight into the contemporary issues (and well, the play carried on to give us a lot more than just an insight). Not long into Act 1 I began to feel overwhelmed with information, as though I was sitting through the last revision session before an exam and trying to cram in as much as possible. About racism, the Troubles, faith and religion (both Protestantism and Catholicism), the IRA, the loyalists and the ex-patriots (and everything in between it seemed). These were obviously topics which Finnegan has a rooted passion for (and rightly so), however the ambitious dream to address them all equally and theatrically; all of these character’s each with a story to tell, involved in all of these topics, and giving us all of this information at once… it was just overbearing, and instead of keeping us in this Irish bubble it gradually alienated the audience.

Although the context was jam packed, Finnegan’s writing is exceptional in bringing out the understated truthful emotion of the characters. It was the perfect cast; all of them effortlessly changing between roles and displaying each character with integrity, humour and understanding. The likeable Euan Macnaughton, with his honest blue eyes and rich Irish tone told many a story through (lengthy, yet well executed) monologues. Shenagh Goven was a force to be reckoned with, her powerful voice and strong demeanour (and not to mention her brilliant comic timing). Every time she entered she brought the stage alive.

Sean Stewart, Shenagh Govan and Angus Castle-Doughty in I AM OF IRELAND, credit of Michael Robinson

‘I AM OF IRELAND’ was full of short snappy scene’s which were cleverly directed by the capable Ken McClymont. The overload of information is forgivable due to the believable cast and enjoyable, relevant soundtrack. I certainly left that warm little pub with an education, and grateful I witnessed such talent.

 

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Review by Lauren Russell

Adam & Eve, Broken Silence Theatre @ The Hope Theatre

Writer: Tim Cook
Director: Jennifer Davis
22 May – 9 June 2018

I walked out of this play feeling quite sure that I had seen some very affecting and high-quality theatre, but unsure what it had meant. ‘How many stars will you give it?’ asked my companion. ‘Four, I think, maybe four and a half,’ was my reply, ‘I just have to do some processing – figure out what its message was.’ On the Tube home we spent as much time discussing this play as we had watching it, and by the time I walked in my front door, my feelings towards it had completely changed. I’d realised some things.

Perhaps appropriately, this is much the same way that the play’s plot progresses. (It is going to be extremely difficult to review and discuss Adam & Eve without spoiling its ending or at least hinting at it, so maybe you should stop reading now if you want to maintain your ignorance in that respect.) Adam and Eve have recently moved to the country, where they have bought a house and gotten right down to the business of baby-making. Everything seems to be going ideally until Adam – a high school English teacher – is accused of having a sexual relationship with one of his students, a precocious, pretty teen called Nikki. For the most part, we follow Eve as she struggles to come to terms with this hammer blow that takes apart her happily domestic life, and as she tries to ascertain the truth. Are these allegations against Adam true? Partially true? Totally false? If false, why is Nikki making them? We see all three characters run a gamut of emotions and relationships throughout the space of the play, and their actors (Lee Knight and Jeannie Dickinson as the titular couple, with Melissa Parker joining them as Nikki) absolutely shine throughout. They build vibrant, entertaining, believable, flawed, and ultimately very human characters, with just the right touch of pathos at the right moments. Dickinson, in particular, creates an Eve who is both intelligent and naïve, capable and vulnerable, who stands up for herself yet clearly longs for affection and security. Watching her heart break throughout the play broke mine along the way.

The staging is minimalistic (a typically small and basic pub theatre room, capacity 50), with the audience forming the four sides of this theatre in the round/square – one row of audience seating is a church pew, a nice tie-in to the play’s theme of marriage. The only items on stage are two chairs, and basic props sometimes carried by the characters, such as an iPad, toothbrush, notepad, etc. Hovering above the stage space is a light installation, a cloud made of what looks like white wedding serviettes, which is illuminated in various different colours throughout the play. Yet despite the lack of setting markers, there is never any doubt where a scene takes place, and the plot, acting, and the quality of the dialogue is enough to make the sparsity of the stage space melt away into irrelevance. The pacing is excellent, the dialogue crackles, the story sucks you in, the characters are compelling, none of that is the problem.

The problem is that hidden under the well written play and all that high quality is an argument that is unethical, ugly, and regressive.

Again, I don’t want to spoil the ending, but let’s just say that in this play, Adam and Eve’s Eden is a happy, traditional, heteronormative marriage, with a mortgage and a baby on the way, and Eve ruins this by taking the poisoned apple offered up by an Old Nick who is effectively a strawman for a sort of vicious, misandrist hyperbole of third wave feminism. This play is inextricably enmeshed in the current climate of #MeToo and sexual abuse, but instead of punching up at the abusers, it is punching down at the survivors. It laces in all the arguments of ‘maybe the men who are accused are the real victims’, and ‘women have total power to ruin a man’s life with a nothing but a single accusation’ (which is statistically untrue, and even within the plot of this play I found it hard to suspend my disbelief there is chance authorities would have taken Nikki seriously given the paucity of hard evidence – but I digress), and ‘we can never know what the truth is when it’s her word against his, so it would be wrong to punish him’.

Not that any of this is particularly obvious – the irony is that this play is better at gaslighting and manipulation than any of its characters. All these messages are insidiously couched in a mimicry of #MeToo and third-wave feminist rhetoric, which is then undercut and subverted into the polar opposite.

It’s a well done play, but rehashing the story of the Fall of Man with no changes to the gender dynamics, except to portray the devil as a young woman, is not fresh or original. A story where women are either weak and fallible or scheming home-wreckers who use their sexual attraction to manipulate and punish men is not original. Even this story’s twist and the characters’ names are not original – they are almost identical to those of The Shape of Things by Neil Labute. The parallels to Jane Eyre would have been a nice touch had they not been manipulated to push an agenda less progressive than the novel written hundreds of years ago. So despite the excellent acting, production values, and overall quality of Adam & Eve, I cannot give it four and a half stars that all these things merit; but neither will I let my overall rating be wholly determined by my moral objections to the play’s values and lack of originality.

You’ll have to be satisfied with a solid three.

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P, Soup-Stained Arts @ Wandsworth Fringe

19th-20th May 2018

Written, directed and performed by Leila Herandi
Wandsworth Arts Fringe Festival

Finding a job is hard. Keeping one is harder… well, for her it is anyway. Our [protagonist/antagonist] (delete as appropriate) is an eternal optimist who can’t see the world crashing around her for the rose-tinted glasses she doesn’t realise she’s wearing, as she naively bumbles her way through life.

Soup Stained Arts on their website say, ‘Creating an important dialogue doesn’t need to be a serious task’.

Which is beautiful and couldn’t more relate to what I saw on stage this evening.

Penned and performed by Leila Herandi, seamlessly moving from storyteller, ‘P’ (the character) and moving back to Leila, she brought such electricity to the small, under the arches space in Putney.

It was the story of a young woman, quite different and out of place in this world; navigating finding a job, being a young person (however strange) and falling in love in the strangest of ways. Shall I say strange again for strangeness’ sake?

This was an excellent and very different version of storytelling.

We made a vow as audience members at the start. Including to turn off our mobile phones.

One of the audience members was roped in to tick off the sequence of the story.

There were flashbacks.

An overhead projector from primary school days.

And halfway through a snack break.

Leila Herandi relished and rejoiced in the difference of ‘P’, the difference in this piece and the technical difficulties that occurred.

She brought perfection to the imperfections.

The story itself, was different and bizarre yet completely relatable to your own failings in love, life and growing up.

For me this is the best of fringe theatre, I had a little giddy moment where I smiled gleefully thinking ‘This is what I bloody love!’

It still feels like a work in development; which is a joyous thing and I’m excited to see how this show continues, grows and develops.

Look out for where this show, company and performer go next. You will not regret heeding my recommendation.

 

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