When individual members of a family are facing a variety of problems, can looking back at their collective past help to resolve matters or does that simply serve to make things worse? This is the premise behind Here by debut playwright Clive Judd, the 2022 winner of the Papatango Prize for new writing currently in production on Southwark Playhouse’s main stage
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Philip Ridley’s The Poltergeist is an irresistibly restless creation which emulates the troublesome violent spirit conjured up by the title. The firework cracking solo piece has had a checkered history. It was first produced at Southwark Playhouse where its run was stymied by Covid lockdown but played out in a deserted auditorium to broadcasting cameras for a criminally brief three performances; it blew away the competition to scoop the Off West End OnComm award for a live streamed piece. It then became an on demand video which has haunted the recesses of the internet ever since and been spoken of with increasing admiration for those of us who saw its glorious beginnings.
Darkfield promoted site specific theatre even when we couldn’t actually go anywhere. Their neat answer was to get you using spaces in your own home or in permitted public places such as a park bench. Now they’ve gone back to an idea which they used prior to the great lockdown with a trio of short pieces taking place in converted shipping containers currently located in Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands.
Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett meet in a cricket pavilion and end up as trapped as some of the characters in their plays
September 2020 and the pandemic was quietly raging. So too was Maureen Lipman in Hope Mill Theatre’s online production of Martin Sherman’s intense monologue Rose; her performance was routinely recognised as a tour de force. The piece won many plaudits including an Off West End Offie and featured as one of my 20 For 2020. Since then it has been restreamed more than once and also appeared on Sky Arts – indeed it is still available on their catch up channel Now TV. But for the real undisputed deal, and if you’re near enough, head to the Park Theatre in Islington where the production is playing until mid-October.
Three Women & Shakespeare’s Will comes from the pen of Joan Greening who has made something of a speciality of writing about historical figures connected to the arts, albeit in imaginary settings/situations. Thus in recent years she has given us the relationship dynamics of three literary sisters in At Home With The Brontës and a trio of Rosetti’s Women and their influence on the titular painter.
So, it was with a sense of keen anticipation that I approached Dante Or Die’s latest piece entitled Odds On which is currently on a “digital tour”. It’s a piece about the world of online gambling and its effects on an individual who gets sucked into a vortex and only narrowly avoids disaster. Having revelled in their earlier piece, and noting that Tim Crouch was on board as the project’s dramaturgist, I expected it to be out of the ordinary – and it was.
A real life adventure told with wit, flair and some stunning movement sequences
It’s third time lucky for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and 101 Dalmatians which is billed as a new musical. Given that it should have premiered two years ago – and then one year ago (thanks, Covid) – that claim is slightly dubious but as it hasn’t actually graced the stage before I guess the assertion still holds.
Ambreen Razia’s play Favour looks into the lives of a trio of women from the same family but of rather different generations. It does so with a vigour that is at times quite intoxicating and although it is 95 minutes straight through, the time fairly flies by.
The Edinburgh Festival is not far away now and, as often happens at this time of year, there are a number of shows playing themselves in before transferring in a northerly direction for their Fringe run. One which caught my eye is Careless which warmed up at The Hen And Chickens in Islington. Conceived and written in lockdown by young actors Emma François and Eva Tritschler, collectively known as Written Off Theatre, it has already enjoyed success at both The Lion and Unicorn and Hope Theatres.
August Strindberg’s The Dance Of Death from 1900 has been credited with prefiguring the works of Beckett, Ionesco, Pinter and most notably provided a template for Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? However, in its latest incarnation at the Arcola in Hackney, which is the culmination of a tour started in May, I was forcibly reminded of the dynamic evoked by Noel Coward’s Private Lives – but with far fewer laughs.
Cultural appropriation doesn’t just take place across different nations
The second pair of plays from #FinboroughFrontier’s quartet of pieces #VoicesFromUkraine reflecting on the situation in the war torn nation is now available. They join the first couple to form a suite of programmes focusing on life in the country as the inhabitants are invaded by a hostile force and their response to the situation.
In The Machine Stops E. M. Forster unusually abandons his general milieu of the genteel classes and takes a look at a supposed future – the theme of connection, however, is still very much in evidence as he examines a world that is literally falling apart.
Broadcast on the fifth anniversary, one cannot but conclude that Grenfell, Scenes From The Enquiry is a devastating critique of a system which put money before people and allowed a tragedy which claimed the life of 72 victims to take place.
Voted back into power three times, Tony Blair left office with the accusations of being a manipulative liar ringing in his ears – not that that has ever slowed down the current incumbent. And it is this almost Shakespearian trajectory of the tragic hero gone to the bad which forms the backbone of Tony! at the Park Theatre.
Based on a true story Kabul Goes Pop: Music Television Afghanistan concentrates on the period in the early 2000s when the Taliban in Afghanistan had been pushed back following Western liberation/invasion – depending on your point of view.
Certainly a powerfully realised piece of drama, Mission at The Big House is all defiantly obscure, though it clicks into place eventually, and you cannot help but admire the skill that goes into the piece.
What do you do when the artistic muse has deserted you? Or when it has never really arrived?
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