The twin themes of social justice and climate activism are explored in this piece from Fehinti Balogun/Complicité.
Do these two pieces push the idea of audio theatre to its limits? Probably and the results are highly pleasing
The first tranche of Young Vic Digital consists of pieces written in response to a main house production. Here they are in chronological order of the time the original plays were written.
Siobhan Bremer’s A Theatrical Life is very much a piece which will more readily appeal to members of the profession and those interested in the mechanics of the business called show.
Site specific theatre hasn’t been easy over the last eighteen months – in fact you can take out the first two words of that statement. It’s been tricky enough getting regular venues open, let alone some of the more esoteric settings which were used before you know what kicked off. A production that it would probably be almost impossible to revive now is Clare Bayley’s The Container which happened at the Young Vic in 2009. Set in an actual shipping container near to the theatre it allowed for just 28 audience members each time crammed onto uncomfortable benches around the perimeter with a narrow central strip for the 6 performers to use. 34 bodies in close proximity packed into a metal box with no sense of social distancing and not a mask to be seen; even Covid deniers might baulk.
And so, to a piece which has long been on my “to see” list but which has kept getting bumped as a whole host of other stuff claimed my attention. As Meet Me At The Edge is a filmed account of an initially intended theatrical piece there hasn’t been quite the urgency that some other titles have had. And now that summer has finally arrived (in mid-September!) it seems like an ideal time to be visiting Cornwall for this meditative and reflective piece which dwells on the twin themes of isolation and connectedness.
It was just about a month ago that I observed that considering the dominant story of all our lives for the last 18 months has been the pandemic, there haven’t really been all that many direct responses to it in the form of theatre pieces. A new addition to the Scenesaver platform looks to rectify that particular shortfall with three monologues about individual experiences and response. Called starkly The Covid-19 Trilogy it comes from Elysium Theatre Company which is based in Durham. During the pandemic they released two sets of five monologues and the three pieces in this set are taken from these. Presumably they are a “best of” collection to whet the appetite; the rest are available on the company’s You Tube channel
Although I’d still give a best company name prize to recent Edinburgh appearees (??!) Expial Atrocious, running them a close second is Smoking Apples – though I’d be hard pressed to identify why. The group have been around for about ten years and have carved out a definite niche for themselves by making use of puppetry and developing a particular visual style in order to explore issue led topics. Their 2018 show to celebrate the anniversary of women’s suffrage has continued to develop and was taken on tour backed by the Institute of Physics as a way of encouraging teenage girls to go into STEM based careers (science/technology/maths). In its latest iteration it has become a filmed record called Flux – Digital.
Around The World In 80 Days is best known for the iconic 1956 David Niven film rather than the original novel by the prolific French writer Jules Verne; this version seeks to restore the original storyline to the centre of the narrative but does so with one playful eye on the theatrical possibilities where much is left to the audience’s imagination.
Arthur Smith pays homage to his (extra) ordinary Dad in Syd which premiered at 2018’s Fringe and is now an online show recorded at Falmouth and being streamed via the Pleasance.
The real life figure of Ed Gein looms large in horror films and literature. Most famously he was the direct inspiration for Norman Bates in Psycho and his terrible influence can also be found haunting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence Of the Lambs. But I’m not sure his real story has been told quite so directly as it is in Under The Floorboards which played live at the Edinburgh Fringe and has now emerged as an online performance film at this year’s Festival.
A warm and entertaining solo play, Lila Clements’ Look, No Hands has some distinctive features which marks it out from many other confessional shows of a similar type.
Two well known tales with a twist: The Little Glass Slipper As Performed By The Queen of France And Her Friends and Metamorphosis. The second piece now tops my personal Edinburgh Fringe online chart.
Without much more than a two line description in the Camden Fringe brochure, I plunged headlong into two wildly different but experimental pieces, Murmur and Wild Waxflower.
I set off for Hollywood, California via Edinburgh, Scotland and Adelaide, Australia. No, I haven’t finally lost it, this was my online trip in both time and place courtesy of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Though the big guns which are at the Edinburgh Fringe have now been rolled out, it’s taking some time to pin down what to aim for there. Meanwhile its somewhat smaller sibling is continuing in Camden and so I thought I would take a break from Edinburgh brochure browsing and pick up on a couple of shows from a Festival which is much nearer geographically and boasts some interesting online content. My choices narrowed down to a pair of performances which took ecology as one of their central themes.
Jam Tart and Lemon Kurd are two accomplished monologues written by Rhiannon Owens and Nick Maynard which fit together neatly having complementary subject matter and a not dissimilar tone at the Camden Fringe.
Gigglemug Murder Mysteries borrow their titles, if not their characters and plots, from the works of Agatha Christie. The first of these is the recently released and enticingly titled Murder On The 12:32 To Bristol.
This is Masks And Faces (full title: Masks And Faces or Before And Behind The Curtain) his 1852 play set in the world of the theatrical profession which the Finborough rediscovered and produced in 2004 and is now being presented as a recorded Zoom reading.
Viper Squad writer James Dillon’s new show Siren takes the tropes of the sci-fi horror genre (there’s a heavy debt to Alien here) and throws the audience into the middle of the action.