For Chronic Insanity’s latest piece entitled Snowflakes the company has partnered up with Dissident Theatre in a production at London’s Park Theatre. It’s a dystopian alternative reality comedy drama – more the latter than the former – which doesn’t exactly break new ground content wise for the group or more generally.
A good double bill of one act plays can be a bit of a rarity. It might consist of pieces with radically different themes by diverse writers who adopt varying tones forming an unsatisfactory pairing. Or it might just gel as a cohesive evening where each element benefits from the presence of the other and enhances the overall experience. Fortunately Generation Games, currently playing at the White Bear Theatre, falls into the latter category with both plays examining intergenerational gay relationships.
Taking as his central text American journalist John Reed’s seminal book Ten Days That Shook The World, Matthew Jameson’s “labour of love” project Ten Days (it has taken a mere 10 years or so to get this work finished) provides a convoluted history lesson which sets out the main events in some detail and introduces a whole gallery of historical figures who played their part in the process.
Expertly directed by the ever dependable Mark Gatiss, The Way Old Friends Do at the Park Theatre is a surprising delight which does what it says on the tin, and then a bit more.
Benny And Hitch concentrates on the turbulent relationship between the director and his often first choice composer, Bernard Herrmann. They worked together on an unbroken stretch of eight films from 1955 to 1964 and the composer also contributed to the TV shows made concurrently.
Writer John Mortimer once said “Farce is tragedy played at a thousand revolutions per minute”, a notion which Enda Walsh seems to have taken to heart in his 2006 play The Walworth Farce at the Southwark Playhouse Elephant, featuring, as it does, distinct elements of both to provide a fascinating hybrid.
Although Windfall at the Southwark Playhouse purports to be a farcical comedy, I only found myself intermittently chuckling; the rest of the time I sat with my metaphorical head in my metaphorical hands.
The latest piece to grace the stage of the Park Theatre is a curious beast, and no mistake. Taking the form of a (fictional) lecture with illustrative acted examples, a healthy dose of audience focused exercises and with a generally high level of comic content, Winner’s Curse never quite makes up its mind what it wants to be or is trying to do.
The lockdown experience was, of course, an infinitely lonely and disturbing one for many and involved living life rather differently. It was also a time for making discoveries about oneself and that is one of the key themes running through Talking Hands, five short pieces (average playing time, 20 minutes) from Deafinitley Theatre.
Ever since Covid’s early days pioneering company Threedumb Theatre has developed and sustained the idea of the one shot livestream; this is unedited and raw but captures much of the spontaneity and edge which comes with live performance. Their latest, Notre Dame, is probably their most ambitious.
Small Truth Theatre has commissioned a series of micro plays recorded as part of its Digital Caravan space (their original mini theatre on wheels being decommissioned because of the need for social distancing). About a month ago they put out a new set of material under the umbrella title of Our Voices consisting of four short pieces inspired by interacting with young people in and around the company’s north Kensington home.
It’s been an absolute age (well, about a year anyway) since I visited those innovative people at Chronic Insanity. They are well known for pushing boundaries of the possible in both live and digital situations. And that’s not to mention the sheer amount of work they produce; the aim is 12 pieces of drama every year.
One of Alan Ayckbourn’s biggest ever successes, 1975’s Bedroom Farce, has only just made the transition in an entertaining production from Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres which premiered in two parts across New Year’s Eve/Day. It is now available via BBC Sounds.
If you want to see a couple of young actors bringing truth and sincerity to a well structured piece of dialogue and elevate it towards the stars which provide a backdrop to this piece, then head for the Finborough for Salt-Water Moon.
The War Of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience from experts in the field Layered Reality takes H.G. Wells’ famous novel, adds a heavy layer of input from the famous 1978 concept album masterminded by Jeff Wayne and has its audiences (in groups of no more than a dozen) moving through 24 separate scenes in the remnants of an old Metal Exchange in the heart of London’s financial district.
What is certain is that if you want an account that’s faithful to the spirit (sorry!) of the original but doesn’t let proceedings drag on (it comes in at under two hours without missing much out) then Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story is certainly worth your attention.
It’s that time of year when days get shorter, nights get longer and tale telling revolves around the supernatural. Just a couple of days ago the last thing I saw on stage, Here, was (partly) a modern day take on the ghost story. Now for good measure comes Grey Man, a piece of digital theatre written by Lulu Raczka, which investigates similar spooky territory. The piece has been subtitled “A Stage And Screen Experiment” which, as it turns out, is exactly what it is.
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
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.