Reared, Bold & Saucy @ Theatre503

4 – 28 April, 2018
by John Fitzpatrick
Directed by Sarah Davey-Hull

Bold & Saucy Theatre Company

Reared Production PhotosTheatre 503

Photography courtesy of The Other Richard

BAFTA nominated writer John Fitzpatrick has delivered a moving and marvellously engaging fly-on-the-wall family drama. It’s a character-driven piece full of surprises, dark comedy and heartfelt moments held together by a terrifically talented cast as three generations of women clash and struggle in a too-small house.

Shelley Atkinson is pitch-perfect in the role of strained wife Eileen, vainly trying to keep her household from falling apart as tensions mount. Paddy Glynn is wonderful as Nora, the acerbic and increasingly senile mother-in-law whose performance pendulums from hilarious to heart-breaking. Danielle Phillips’ rebellious teenage Caitlin too is a joy to watch, unexpectedly delivering my favourite rendition of a Lady Macbeth speech that I’ve ever seen, along with bitter sarcasm and vulnerable moments of confession as she tries to find her way. Adding to the chaos and comedy are Daniel Crossley as the avoidant and ineffectual father, and Rohan Nedd who is side-splitting as a clueless teenage love interest. They are all an absolute pleasure to watch.

In addition, Sammy Dowson has designed a set that feels like it’s been moved wholesale from someone’s actual house. It’s incredibly detailed, reeling you in from the moment you enter the space. A half empty bottle of washing-up liquid and drying dishes sit by the sink, empty wine bottles stand by the recycling bin, childhood memorabilia hang from the walls, and innumerable other pieces of family detritus clutter every available surface.

The play leaves some unanswered questions, but I was glued to my seat from beginning to end. With dynamic direction and intelligent writing, this is not a show to be easily missed.

 

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The Sleeper, Anima Theatre Company @ The Space

3 – 14 April, 2018

Written & directed by Henry C. Krempels

The Sleeper Image

On an overnight train across Europe, a British woman finds a Syrian refugee in her bed. Longlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, The Sleeper unfolds as a fascinating and thought-provoking exploration of some of the twisted morality that surrounds the Syrian refugee crises.

The play draws largely from a real-life incident of writer/director Henry C Krempels, and the play very much feels like Krempel’s attempt to come to terms with his deeply affecting experience. We watch and rewatch the discovery of a young refugee girl on the train by a British woman and the train’s manager. These characters attempt again and again to uncover the truth about their unexpected guest before, suddenly, the narrative is flipped inside-out to be told from the refugee’s perspective. And by ‘the refugee’s perspective’, I actually mean ‘the actor’s perspective’.

It gets a little surreal.

The meta elements become fairly extreme, with actors breaking the fourth-wall and talking about the play analytically, questioning the narrative and characters that have been built and developed up to that point.

On the one hand, I found this incredibly jarring. Literally being told by the actors that everything you’ve just seen is meaningless goes quite a long way to undermine all narrative tension and development built to that point.

And yet, on the other hand, it’s this level of self-analysis that makes the play as unique and thought-provoking as it is. Touching on themes of privilege, moral obligation and guilt, it’s a sharp reminder that our views on the global refugee crisis can be woefully out-of-touch.

The story is helped along by it’s simple and creative set (by Jasmine Swan), and the strong cast. Sarah Agha brings wonderful power to her role. A refugee character is so often reduced to being nothing but a victim of circumstance, and one of triumphs of the play for me was seeing something a lot deeper. A refugee who is angry; frustrated by her predicament and by our overly-simplistic understanding of her narrative. Michelle Fahrenheim gives a sympathetic performance as a kind, yet naïve British traveller, whilst Joshua Jacob does a superb job as the pragmatic and occasionally sinister train conductor.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, The Space programs incredibly ambitious and interesting work. Though I don’t always agree with every creative decision made in its walls, it’s a venue worth supporting, and the shows leave you thinking. The Sleeper is a case in point.

 

 

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Hilda and Virginia @ Jermyn Street Theatre

27th February – 3rd March, 2018

by Maureen Duffy

Directed by Natasha Rickman
Performed by Sarah Crowden

Sarah Crowden in Hilda and Virginia, Jermyn Street Theatre, credit of Harry Livingstone. (10)

Part of the ‘Scandal’ season at the Jermyn Street Theatre, the play is a double-bill following the stories of two remarkable women. The first is Virginia Woolf, who uncovers the secrets, affairs and scandals behind her novels. The second is Hilda of Whitby, a rebellious saint from the 1st century BCE who faces a crisis of faith.

Both women are played by Sarah Crowden in this ambitious duel-story one-woman show.

Crowden’s gives an often sympathetic and charming performance. The characters are distinct and often lovable. The design changes completely between halves, going from book-filled writing office to medieval chamber incredibly effectively. Books and skulls, candles and tapestries help deliver the worlds of the play convincingly.

The action in the play however suffered from a distinct lack of subtlety. ‘I’m brilliant!’ declares Virginia, standing on a chair, before clambering down for the next line as if nothing had happened. ‘I took drugs’ she confides, extracting a bottle from a hollow book, showing us, and then taking a swig to illustrate the point. Then, whenever angry, she knocked the books to the ground.

These sorts of actions permeated the performance. Sometimes they worked, but more often they didn’t. They sometimes left the production feeling as hollow as the books.

The text itself provides interesting glimpses into the personalities of Hilda and Virginia. Insights into their lives and inner-conflicts. Duffy’s writing and Crowden’s performance elicited giggles frequently witty from the audience, who, to be fair to the show, seemed to enjoy themselves far more than I did.

So, maybe it was just me, but I was unmoved. I was unconvinced as to the reason these stories were forced together as a double-bill, and why the stories needed to be told in the first place. They felt almost entirely disconnected. If the experience of one character was meant to provide insight on the dilemma of the other I didn’t get it.

One-person shows are a tough ask for any performer. Keeping an audience engaged for any amount of time is not easy, especially on one’s own (as anyone who has ever spoken in public can attest). I admire Crowden for how well she did, but a 2-hour run-time with two mostly disconnected stories left me nonplussed.

For the most part anyway.

Make up your own mind, see what you think, and let me know?

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Becoming Shades, Chivaree Circus/Upstage Creative @ The Vaults

24 January – 18 March, 2018

Directed by Laurane Marchive

Becoming Shades at VAULT Festival 2018 (courtesy Maximilian Webster) 2

Photography by Maximilian Webster

 

In the echoing bowls of the Vaults, with dripping walls and shadowy figures, the memory of the Goddess Persephone lives on in flashes of retelling. Chivaree Circus and Upstage Creative have created an incredible evening of entertainment.

If you’ve never been to the Vaults or it’s festival, I thoroughly recommend this show as a first experience of it, and hope it leads you to the other shows this extraordinary venue has to offer.

There’s almost no dialogue. It’s a retelling of the Persephone & Hades myth story through circus, movement and music. The show is all about atmosphere and is a showcase for the unbelievable talent of the performers.

The aerials and pole dance are just stunning to watch, and oh my god they are good. The grace of the performers is hard to overstate. You watch in open-mouthed wonderment, in awe of the human body and what it’s capable of.

The music by Sam West performed with Becks Johnstone is haunting and gorgeous, and I wish there was a full album available for purchase, so I could tell you to buy it.

On the subject of atmosphere, the design is wonderful. Lights, music, costume and performance are pitch perfect. Charon, the ferryman to the underworld looks like if something from Star Wars read H.P. Lovecraft. It’s creepy and engrossing, and it transports you.

The immersive elements of the piece are more to enhance atmosphere that to provide actual interaction with the characters and events in the play. Still, it works, and the use of the space is clever and dynamic.

A major downfall is that it’s not the clearest retelling of Persephone. The individual acts are connected more my theme and setting than the plot. Some of my fellow audience members were baffled as to what was going on, though still awed and entertained. It’s not particularly kind in leading one through the events of the narrative, and the lack of dialogue doesn’t help.  So, if you don’t know the myth, I’d recommend this as some prior reading.

In a show like this, the plot isn’t really the point though. The point is having your mind blown. So, grab a ticket, and go get your mind blown.

 

 

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Interview with director, Blythe Stewart – The Moor @ The Old Red Lion Theatre

The Moor - Header

Director: Blythe Stewart on The Moor by Catherine Lucie.

Tuesday 6th February- Saturday 3rd March 2018.

Old Red Lion Theatre

To book tickets – click here


Can you explain the play and what you’d like our readers to know about it before they come?

It’s a new play, a psychological thriller about one woman who’s name is Bronagh and she has suspicions about a murder in her isolated small town. She lets her suspicions known to the local police man and becomes embroiled in the whole thing.

It’s an epic story, a crime story in a way but also about Bronagh getting to grips with the relationships in her life and gaining more agency in her own life.

What is the main thing you hope the audience takes away from seeing ‘The Moor’?

I’d like them to leave with a lot of questions in a positive way. When I first read it, I finished it confused and gripped yet I understood the play before I reached the end. I hope that when the metaphorical curtain drops, the audience goes to the pub below and ask themselves what happened; What is true? What is false? What is memory? Who are we in relation to other people? I look forward to overhearing those questions.

Would you want to answer those questions?

I don’t feel so strongly about answering those questions more about what their personal feelings are about it. I know friends will come and quiz me for the truth and I would offer them questions and provocations. I took away most from it, that it allowed me to reflect on my own world view; we think that we’re the hero in our own stories and that we’re on the right side and can judge other people quite fairly. How compassionate are we until we are faced with other kinds of stories?

Your specialty as a director is in new writing – what draws you most to new writing as opposed to the classics?

For me, the greatest joy when hearing a story and watching a play is that moment when you are so unsure and excited about what’s going to happen in the next moment; new writing offers that. Classics have lost that sense of urgency in that way. In terms of me as a director, it’s about how can we embolden people about what happens next. New writing provokes them and gets them to use their imaginations to ask those questions – it’s so rewarding if they’ve managed to ask that and use their imagination to ask ‘What will happen next?’. I got hooked on new plays – I was reading so much and thinking ‘how would they be put on stage?’ and it made me ask those same questions. I hope we can inspire an audience to ask too.

Can you describe the setting of the play?

It’s not a specific countryside or country or place in the play, the most important factor in terms of setting is she’s isolated in her community yet embedded in the land at the same time. We decided to set it in Yorkshire which felt right partially because the moors are such an expansive space but also (and I hope this doesn’t ruin anything for the audience in advance) but there’s some kinds of folklore in the play that feels well suited to Yorkshire to other kinds of places like Wales or Scotland.

‘The Moor’ is performing at the Old Red Lion theatre which is quite an intimate space – how did you use this to your advantage in terms of design and direction with the play and it’s setting?

I was sent the play about 4 years ago and the first two years on and off  we work-shopped it. Once we got to the draft we were most satisfied with, the first place we went to was the Old Red Lion. I’ve directed there before so know the joys of the space and its shortcomings.

The thing about expanses of countryside are they are at first big and endless but leave you with claustrophobia. The space is so intimate and the audience is right there and being able to speak to them is integral to the piece. It’s perfect in its spatial relation to the audience. Purposefully the scenes are fluid and locations are fluid.  Holly Pigot, our designer has been brilliant and created a useful kind of system helping us to achieve what it might be like for Bronagh fluidly moving through those spaces.

How involved was Catherine Lucie (the writer) in the rehearsal process? Do you like having the writer in the room?

I love it- having writers in rehearsals is such a wonderful resource. They are a like a best buddy and partner in crime to bounce ideas off in an immediate way. In the time of the play moving forward, Catherine’s life has changed and she’s moved to Wales and become a mother so she’s been able to participate in short terms ways. She came up on Monday, to speak to the actors and they were able to ask her questions which was beautiful as it highlighted how on board they are with her story.  Writers are such a good resource. They know the play better than anyone. I love working with emerging or early career writers. It’s so important that they get to participate and see how the actors are taking that subtext and ideas on.

How do you work as a director?

I really value games and exercises to flush out subtext and objectives; physical acts of wants. We work from a system where we don’t have the scripts in hand. Every scene is an emotional transaction between two people. Some might see it as working in an usual way but we are up on our feet from day one. In my view its important to actualize stuff and we’re not stuck behind tables and pieces of paper. Even the simplest of plays could become academic and cerebral, so we are up on day one testing the ground.

So this is a question which has become a tradition for interviews with TheatreBox- what’s a book/ production/ piece of art/ film you think more people should see?

Oh … there are so many! Actually, this one works well. Opus No 7 by a Russian company called Dmitry Krymov lab. It’s recorded to watch online. I was fortunate to study in Russia when I was doing my degree and saw it there and and then again at the Barbican a few years go. It was the first time I left the theatre and my brain had expanded about what is possible on stage and what a joy it is to use my imagination. It set me off on a different path personally and creatively. Imagination is the greatest tool we have. The joy of theatre is engaging people’s minds in what is possible!


The Moor by Catherine Lucie

6th February-3rd March 2018

Old Red Lion Theatre

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@Blythe_Stewart

Woman Before a Glass @ Jermyn Street Theatre

17 January – 3 February, 2018

by Lanie Robertson
Directed by Austin Pendleton (Recreated by Tom McClane-Williamson)
Performed by Judy Rosenblatt

Woman Before A Glass - Lane Robertson - Jermyn Street Theatre - Judy Rosenblatt as Peggy Guggenheim

Photography by Robert Workman

Directed by the Pulitzer-prize-winning Austin Pendleton, the play is a based-on-a-true-story one-woman show about Peggy Guggenheim, a larger-than-life iconoclast and millionaire art patron who ushered modern art into the world and most of the artists into her bed.

It’s an amazing story about an incredible woman, filled with drama, legacy, and unabashed character.  She wallows delightedly in gossip, natters and chats away while the details of a very full life are unveiled about her.

A fascinating and witty script breathed lovingly to life by Judy Rosenblatt. It’s a truly memorable performance from an actor with an impressive resume covering two continents. It’s become a rare thing to see older actresses in leading roles, especially in Off-West End/fringe theatre. It’s a fact which seems even more of a tragedy after seeing the talent and character Rosenblatt brings to the table.

As a script it does have its issues. It’s a little longer than it probably should be, features several of characters who arrive and hover just off stage, never seen. As a performance device it sometimes works brilliantly, filling out the world and giving Peggy Guggenheim people to flirt with, coax, and berate. At other times the often-lengthy one-sided conversations feel a bit silly, as insubstantial as the air they’re held with.

A show worth the ticket, and a memorable start to a promising season at the Jermyn Street Theatre.

 

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The Claim (Tour) – Five stars!

22 November, 2017 – 2 February, 2018 (Tour)

by Tim Cowbur
Directed by Mark Maughan

16 – 26 January, 2018 (London)

https://www.theclaimshow.co.uk/

The Claim, UK Tour - Ncuti Gatwa and Nick Blakeley (courtesy of Paul Samuel White)

Photography by Paul Samuel White

 

This isn’t going to like my usual reviews because I don’t want to give ANYTHING away.

Don’t research the play. Don’t look it up. Just go and experience it blind.

Trust me.

I can’t bare being anything but vague at the moment. The play contains such a journey in tone and experience that I feel the best way to see it is to encounter every high and low as the protagonist does.

It’s important, relevant theatre; incredibly entertaining, wonderfully written, and impeccably acted.

WHAT MORE CAN YOU WANT!

Clever design and seamless direction.

Writer Tim Cowbur is a genius.

Ncuti Gatwa, Nick Blakeley, and Yusra Warsama shine.

It’s absurd. It’s heart-breaking. It’s hilarious.

It made me angry.

It’s the sort of play that I started reviewing plays to see.

 

Go book your tickets now, okay?

 

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TOUR DATES

Tickets (London)

Upcoming cities –
Canterbury | 29 Jan 2018
Glasgow | 31 Jan 2018

Newcastle upon Tyne | 2 Feb 2018

Programme C, The One Festival @ The Space

11 January – 27 January

The One Festival – Programme C

One-18-Web

 

After so thoroughly enjoying the One Festival’s Programme B, I was determined to see the rest of the pieces currently playing at The Space in Canary Wharf.  My next step was seeing Programme C, an eclectic collection of amusing, absorbing, and occasionally harrowing short pieces. Though all five pieces featured in Programme C are very different in tone and subject matter, they all have two big things in common. They all share a focus on the vividly drawn, oftentimes eccentric characters at their centre, and they’re all full of surprises.

 

Mansplaining: The Musical by Mike Carter, Performed by Stephanie Ware, Directed by Saffron Myers

The first piece of the evening, Mansplaining: The Musical, is a raucous and delightful good time. Its subject is talented, take-no-guff Broadway leading lady Ginger Valentine, played with charm and gusto by Stephanie ware. Ware portrays brilliantly the hard-working performer, constantly bedevilled on her journey to stardom by the men who want to steal her spotlight and undermine her success. Mike Carter’s writing gives the character wit, humour and strength, and his decision to set the piece on Broadway in the 1930’s emphasizes the universality of its feminist message, and echoes the revelations the world is collectively having about the entertainment industry today. That message is bolstered by comedic songs and musical numbers, imbuing the whole proceedings with pageantry, flash and fun. Overall, Mansplaining: The Musical is a defiant, charming and entertaining piece full of real character and old-school Broadway flair.

 

Home Time by David Hendon, Performed by Elizabeth George, Directed by Paula Chitty

Home Time, written by David Hendon and directed by Paula Chitty, is a harrowing piece about motherhood, shock and grief. Jennifer is a single mother with a young son, played with great feeling and sensitivity by Elizabeth George. She begins the piece sharing with us the many mundane joys, degradations and celebrations that motherhood entails. However, we soon realize that there’s something terrible she’s not telling us, and seeing her come to terms with this dreadful truth provides us with an honest and unflinching portrayal of shock and grief. Watching the piece, it feels like we spend a bit too much time with Jennifer before this event, and not quite enough time seeing her deal with the aftermath; an odd choice, considering the meat of the piece seems to come after the twist. However, despite a slightly meandering feel towards the beginning, this moving meditation on motherhood has much to offer for theatre-goers looking to have their heart-strings tugged.

 

Binkie and the Snowbirds by John Dixon, Performed by Tim Blackwell, Directed by Danielle McIlven

The third piece of the evening, Binkie and the Snowbirds by John Dixon, is all about subverting expectations. It revolves around a man and his dog, Binkie, who happens to be stuffed. The man, played with offbeat humour and sharp intelligence by Tim Blackwell, is telling his story to a “snowbird” in a Miami cocktail bar, promising more tantalizing details in exchange for just one more drink. We never know if we can trust him, as Binkie is constantly subverting expectations, to darkly comic or unexpectedly moving effect. As the piece unfolds, we come to learn that our possibly unreliable narrator carries a great loneliness beneath his chummy exterior, a loneliness which sometimes drives him to unusual extremes. Surprising and funny, Binkie and the Snowbirds is brought to vivid life by John Dixon’s witty writing and Tim Blackwell’s energetic performance.

 

Sixth Position Written and Directed by Louise Jameson, Performed by Holly Jackson Walters

Next is Sixth Position, an elegant meditation on potential, and the impossibility of knowing if it’s ever been met. Holly Jackson Walters plays a ballerina, or is she an ex-ballerina? This question is at the centre of Sixth Position, as it explores whether we need an audience to dance, or if just dancing is, on its own, enough. As we are told about this character’s past, we see more and more of who she is: her great uncertainty and doubt is gradually revealed to us. Holly Jackson Walters brings remarkable feeling to her role, particularly in her physicality, which gracefully and expressively captures a soft, light, hesitant joy. Sixth Position is a gentle, affecting, subtle piece about art and doubt, brought to life by a detailed performance from Holly Jackson Walters and engrossing writing from Louise Jameson.

 

Skyclad by Serena Haywood, Performed by Alexandra Donnachie, Directed by Lou-Lou Mason

The final show on the Programme, Skyclad by Serena Haywood, is a comic exploration of the ways young people seek acceptance and meaning in a confusing and uncertain world. Alexandra Donnachie plays Sophia ‘Fuschia’ Travis, a university physics student who’s just joined her university’s witchcraft association. Donnachie brings a charming awkwardness and self-deprecating humour to her character, and despite Fuschia’s eccentricities the audience is with her the whole way. Serena Haywood’s writing is funny in an understated, surprising way, and she accurately captures the way in which young people seeking acceptance band together in unusual ways. However, Fuschia’s new acceptance is not long-lived, and both Donnachie and Haywood seem to take great pleasure in exploring how this character filters her feelings of jealousy and betrayal through her newfound knowledge of Wicca. Skyclad is very funny, and provides a clear vision of the ways young people deal with loneliness, betrayal, and romantic conflict.

 

Programme C presents a diverse set of interesting, eccentric characters in moments of indecision, loneliness, betrayal and grief. The five pieces on show all have very different tones, but all are engrossing and all feature detailed, well-drawn characters. All together, I find Programme C to be another strong offering from the One Festival, an eclectic and exciting evening of character-driven theatre.

 

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Interview with director David Loumgair – Tiny Dynamite @ the Old Red Lion

Director David Loumgair on Tiny Dynamite by Abi Morgan.
9 January – 3 February, 2018
Old Red Lion Theatre

Read our review of the show here: https://wp.me/p93PYe-Bd

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What originally attracted you to work on Tiny Dynamite?

When I first read Tiny Dynamite, which was almost seven years ago now, I completely fell in love with the play and couldn’t quite get my head around why nobody had revived it since the original staging. What kept bringing me back to it was the countless layers of meaning that Abi has woven throughout it, and the complex relationship that she builds between the three characters.

In many of the plays I read, most of the questions that are asked throughout are answered by the end, and all the uncertainties are explained. But Abi does something incredibly brave with Tiny Dynamite, and leaves so much unanswered and so much unspoken. What isn’t written into the dialogue is equally as important as what is written, and there is a clear layer of subtext which allows an audience to read into the silences what they choose.

 

Niall Bishop and Eva-Jane Willis in Tiny Dynamite, by Richard Davenport (2)

Photography (c) by Richard Davenport


Abi Morgan’s writing is often compared to Caryl Churchill’s, how do you find working on a piece that can be so ambiguous? What were the challenges?

One of the main challenges I found as a director was allowing myself to not need to answer all these questions that the text raises. There is huge amount of magic, mystery and miracle throughout the play which you can either try to rationalise or just accept and believe in.

At the beginning of rehearsals, and as we were gaining a stronger sense of the characters, we were attempting to answer some of the questions the play throws up. But when we opened the door to believing in the magic there was so much more to explore, and it’s brilliant that the text allows each audience member to interpret different meanings through those unanswered questions.

I think that was part of Abi’s intention, and why she is so often compared to Caryl Churchill, because she describes Tiny Dynamite as a play about knowing when to take responsibility for your life, and those moments when you have to just step back and let a miracle happen. It’s a gesture that extends both to an audience, but also to us as a company, that we just sometimes just have to step back and leave some things unanswered.

 

Tanya Fear and Eva-Jane Willis in Tiny Dynamite, by Richard Davenport (2)

What are you most excited about audiences experiencing when watching the show?

Well there’s so much I’m excited about audiences seeing, but I’m particularly excited about the breath-taking set our designer, Anna Reid, has created. The core of the play is the immensely traumatic event that the two childhood friends experience, which seeps into every crack and every silence between the characters, so Anna and I spent a long time discussing how we could physically represent this through the design.

We quickly realised that water is the key element of this trauma, and there is a very clear relationship between water and electricity that runs throughout the rest of the play, so it instinctively felt like the right language to use.

This relationship creates an innate sense of risk and danger for the characters, which Anna and I wanted to extend the feeling of to the audience. It’s an exciting but daunting challenge, because you so rarely see vast amounts of water used in fringe theatre, but it’s a challenge which Anna has thrown herself at and created something absolutely astounding from.

 

Niall Bishop, Tanya Fear and Eva-Jane Willis in Tiny Dynamite, by Richard Davenport (4)

The play was originally performed very physically with Frantic Assembly, is that something you’ve aimed to rediscover in your staging of it?

There’s definitely an innate sense of movement that runs throughout the play, and my understanding is that Frantic Assembly worked closely with Abi to develop the text during its original staging, so it’s clear that physicality was a key element of their production in 2001-3.

That physicality is something I’ve aimed towards re-discovering, but have been very conscious of not trying to re-create. I wanted our revival to have its own style of movement, and I have an astounding Movement Director on board, Natasha Harrison, who has worked closely and collaboratively with the actors to build a language that we’ve then woven throughout the production.

The very subtle but emotionally-connected movement we’ve developed has elevated the scenes so much more than I expected, and there’s a lot the actors have been able to discover about their characters through this movement.

Niall Bishop, Tanya Fear and Eva-Jane Willis in Tiny Dynamite, by Richard Davenport (3)

 

Has your background as a dramaturg effected how you approach plays? How do you use dramaturgy when you’re working?

Absolutely. You might have noticed I use the word ‘language’ quite a lot, which the actors will not let me live down during rehearsals…

Dramaturgy in British theatre has always been a minefield, as there as so many different interpretations of the role, and many creatives don’t actually fully understand what a dramaturg does. I could spend hours talking about it, and I often run workshops that explore the craft, but essentially my approach as a dramaturg is production-based rather than text-based, where a lot of British dramaturgy focuses.

Essentially the way I use dramaturgy, specifically on Tiny Dynamite, is by maintaining a consistency of visual, metaphorical and stylistic languages. As an example, the language of our movement is drawn from the ebb-and-flow of the ocean, and I would describe it as being akin to tidal, so that is something I need to consistently maintain as a gesture throughout the whole production or the framework crumbles.

I’d recommend keeping an eye out for my workshops on dramaturgy if anyone’s interested in developing a career as a dramaturg!

 

Niall Bishop, Tanya Fear and Eva-Jane Willis in Tiny Dynamite, by Richard Davenport

Any advice for aspiring theatre professionals?

Without hopefully sounding morose, it is getting harder and harder to work in the arts because of continual funding cuts, rising rents in London where a lot of opportunities are concentrated (although this is rapidly changing), and the ever-increasing cost of staging even the most stripped-back of work.

My advice would be to find your allies, and not to be afraid of collaboration. Supporting others is what opens doors to be supported yourself, and because of all the pressures I mention above it can often feel like a race or a competition to ‘make it’.

There are a lot of deeply-rooted barriers for artists from a range of disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds, and I think we are already starting to see positive change, but finding support amongst your peers will allow you to keep more stable and in more positive mental health, and will enable you to seek advice when it is needed.

 

Eva-Jane Willis in Tiny Dynamite, by Richard Davenport.JPG

It’s a bit of a tradition for my blog to ask this in interviews, but aside from Tiny Dynamite what’s a book/production/piece of art/film you think more people should see?

I hope that almost everybody has already seen it, but the film ‘Moonlight’ released last year, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, was an absolute game-changer for me.

It’s not only a breath-taking film and piece of art that explores such an under-exposed relationship between sexuality, masculinity and race, but it has had such an impact on the types of films that we’re now seeing being commissioned and developed. I think it’s something that everyone should see.

 


Read our review of the show here: https://wp.me/p93PYe-Bd

Tiny Dynamite by Abi Morgan
9 January – 3 February, 2018
Old Red Lion Theatre

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@davidloumgair

 

Tiny Dynamite, Time Productions @ the Old Red Lion

9 January – 3 February, 2018

by Abi Morgan
Directed by David Loumgair

Read our interview with director David Loumgair – https://wp.me/p93PYe-ARtheatrebox.blog

Niall Bishop and Eva-Jane Willis in Tiny Dynamite, by Richard Davenport

Photography (c) by Richard Davenport

Two childhood friends are away on a holiday, bound together by a shared and tragic past. While away, they meet an alluring stranger that threatens to expose everything.

Ambiguous in its meaning and plot, it’s an odd show that explores the difference between miracles and accidents. A beautiful drama that unfolds in snatches between transitions of rumbling static and synth music, often veering off into stories of freak accidents told by the characters. Morgan’s language (wistfully talked about by Loumgair in our interview)  is poetic, and lovingly breathed by the actors.

Niall Bishop’s performance as the erratic Anthony is engaging and animated. He has a similar wide-eyed vulnerability to that which Mark Rylance pulls off so well on occasion. Eva-Jane Willis (Luce) is strong contrast, would up so tight you expect something to snap. Balancing the dynamic is the grounded and nuanced performance of Tanya Fear, whose composure and stillness is striking.

The design is stunning, creatively used and wonderfully constructed. It places you into the scene and brings the world alive while simultaneously providing a inspired and dynamic space for the actors to use. In-built swimming pool included.

Though not for everyone, it has some great moments. I’m not sure I understood it all, but like Loumgair said, I’m not sure that we need to.

Well worth the trip for a thought provoking evening of theatre.

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