The wilful disregard for anything approaching proper narrative or coherence even – is an admirable trait on full display in this production created by Takdaja. Structured as a cabaret-like series of individual performances hung together on the most abstract of themes, the company of three drifts through melancholic, bruised scenarios, with intimations of system breakdown and collapse. The dreamy, angry, resigned, defiant, and broken characters inhabit apocalyptic landscapes, floating aimlessly, their searches elusive. They tumble in a fluid fugue of gender, sexuality, and identity, disconnected. Language cycles between Polish, German, and English, a brew of alienated voices.
No beginning or ending is on offer – the audience is told quite pointedly after an opening monologue that there is no traditional start. And a gentle chiding sees us out the door, quite bewilderingly. After 21 minutes, a player informs us that there will be no interval and proceeds to break down mathematically to the infinitesimal degree how much of the running time has elapsed. Group members harangue the audience (no one is left unscathed). True to its title, the fruit will be spilt-thrown, tossed, and slammed. Juices pour across the floor like blood spray. The feeling is that something has passed, something crucial and vital, a nutrient forever lost.
Helping enormously to craft a convincing environment of ruin is a minimalist, yet brutally efficient, production design, an industrial wasteland of relics and leftovers. Fog enshrouds every movement as if toxic air bullies every step. The space has been claimed, blown apart. The lighting, sometimes muted and soft as memory, concentrating attention upon one object or side of the room, can also catch characters in a stark, unforgiving embrace. At other times it spirals out like a pinwheel or speckles the audience playfully. One particularly devastating, representative sequence has a performer desperate for affirmation chasing to exhaustion an evasive spotlight that denies disclosure. Kudos to the technical trifecta of Helen Hebert, Theodor Spiridon, and Jack Foran.
Fundamentally, the piece feels more at one with performance art than theatre and perhaps, ultimately, would be more successful if fully embraced as such. As intriguingly hazy and obscure as many of the moments are, a viewer may long for a more certain movement towards a conclusive statement. Much of the time, the material floats loose and detached and after a while seems to infect the internal structure as a whole. It feels a bit baggy and airless. Mimmi Bauer, Pat Dynowska, and Michał Szpak commit fully to the singular worldview, throwing bare passion, heart and soul into the mix. Collectively, they have a firm, sure hand on their purpose. Frustrating and compelling in equal measure, a viewer departs pleasantly bemused.
The infamous Sh!t Faced Showtime are back in London with a festive edition, they have taken Dickens’ classic and put a drunken spin on it. The formula is the same as other iterations of the Shi!t Faced shows, one member of the cast has been boozing, and this time it is John Milton who plays Scrooge. Before the show, half a bottle of Jim Beam, some wine, and beer have been consumed in the previous 4 hours. The rest of the cast, try to keep the show on track, also aided by James Murfitt as the compere, Charles Dickens. The … More A PISSEDMAS CAROL – REVIEW – LEICESTER SQUARE
Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, HighTide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and daughter’s … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE