View Post

RICHARD II – Arcola Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Following its recent performance at the Palace of Westminster, Jack Gamble and Quentin Beroud bring their Richard II to the Arcola Theatre for a short run. It has been often said that Richard II is the most “political” of Shakespeare’s plays: the story of a King too held back by the past, the last medieval Sovereign killed more by historical change than by the man who reigned after him.

THE HOUSE OF MIRRORS AND HEARTS – Arcola Theatre

In London theatre, Musicals, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

‘Pain can blind us, twist us, change us – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse’; writes Eamonn O’Dwyer in the programme notes of his new musical playing at the Arcola Theatre. House of Mirrors and Hearts is an ambitious piece, looking to investigate the oppressive nature of grief associated with loss and its destructive impact on a family unit. It is a chamber musical of intense intimacy, but often shuts the audience out more than it draws us in. It’s a shame, as the space feels perfect for the subject matter and yet it is somewhat undermined by some unsympathetic characters and predictable narrative clichés.

View Post

PRODUCT – Arcola Theatre

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Arcola Theatre, London

***
Written by Mark RavenhillDirected by Robert Shaw

Olivia Poulet
Ten years is a long time in the theatre and as geo-political influences and events have shifted, so too has Mark Ravenhill’s Product that was written in 2005 for a world post 9/11, come to look a little dated.
The one-hander focusses around movie producer Leah who is attempting to sell the role of Amy to Julia, a wannabe starlet. The emptiness of Amy’s life and by analogy Leah’s, is highlighted in the sharp contrast between what motivates her and what motivates the tall, dusky ‘hero’.
Ravenhill’s perspectives would have been timely and relevant in their day, with Amy having been wounded by the events of 9/11 and the loss of her lover in the Twin Towers’ destruction. The writer’s aim of confronting our own prejudices, stereotypes and interestingly, our fantasies too, not so much of Islam, but of Islamic men, would also have made for an interesting conceit, giving us a flavour of the appeal to loveless faithless Western women of the tall, dusky men whose lives are dominated by ‘the knife’ and ‘the prayer mat’, subservient to the mullah and a guaranteed path to paradise.
But the shadow of recent years’ atrocities, both in the UK and abroad, have cast a sobering shadow over Ravenhill’s “romanticized” perspective and writing a decade ago, he could never have conceived the notion of young women fleeing this country in the hope of finding love amongst terrorist fighters abroad. 
Olivia Poulet’s Leah is a powerful performance with the cliché rich text that Leah enthusiastically thumbs throughout the 50 minute monologue quite possibly serving as a metaphor for her own cliché ridden life. The passion with which she enthuses the storyline’s references to its heroine’s huge loft style apartment in a converted East London abattoir, albeit lacking a loving relationship, suggest her own lifestyle might be somewhat similar.
Whilst its relevance may have waned, Product remains a powerfully performed and sharp observation of the humiliating process of pitching, written with a generous measure of humour that draws an empathetic laugh from the audience. Poulet’s creation of the parallel characters of Leah and Amy, bringing the starlet Julia to life through her one-way exchanges with the audience, is masterful and her performance alone justifies the ticket.

Runs until 23rd May 2015

View Post

Review: Clarion (Arcola Theatre)

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

‘Write what you know’ has never been more apt. When a former Daily Express entertainment editor writes a play in which the showbiz section of his lightly fictionalized newsroom is called “Cunts’ Corner” you know you’re in for a fun and filthy ride. Ruder about interfering proprietors than Drop the Dead Donkey, more racist and […]

The post Review: Clarion (Arcola Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.

View Post

Review: The Rivals (Arcola Theatre)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Without getting all academic on its ass, and despite what the programme may tell you, Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 play is not a ‘Restoration Comedy’ being about 115 years too late for the demise of Oliver Cromwell and the coronation of Charles II but it is an endlessly lively ‘comedy of manners’ which relies on […]

The post Review: The Rivals (Arcola Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.

View Post

Review: The Rivals (Arcola Theatre)

In Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Without getting all academic on its ass, and despite what the programme may tell you, Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 play is not a ‘Restoration Comedy’ being about 115 years too late for the demise of Oliver Cromwell and the coronation of Charles II but it is an endlessly lively ‘comedy of manners’ which relies on […]

The post Review: The Rivals (Arcola Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.

View Post

Review: Carousel (Arcola Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Reviewers often struggle to find adjectives to describe yet another fringe musical we’re obliged to see on your behalf. For Carousel at the Arcola, we have only three: good, good, good. Good #1 because producers Morphic Graffiti are making a name for taking ‘classic’ material and re-working it for smaller scale acoustic productions. You don’t […]

The post Review: Carousel (Arcola Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.

View Post

Review: Carousel (Arcola Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

Reviewers often struggle to find adjectives to describe yet another fringe musical we’re obliged to see on your behalf. For Carousel at the Arcola, we have only three: good, good, good. Good #1 because producers Morphic Graffiti are making a name for taking ‘classic’ material and re-working it for smaller scale acoustic productions. You don’t […]

The post Review: Carousel (Arcola Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.