Threedumb Theatre Company brings a unique digital theatre adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris. This is a live-streamed show created during the pandemic, using one-shot filming, which adds to the authentic live feel which is present in this piece. The show feels relevant amongst recent strikes and the general cost-of-living crisis, and it’s refreshing to have a version of theatre you can watch straight from your own home. Dim the lights, grab a stack, sit back, and enjoy.
Set in 1480’s Paris, the opening scene shows Esmerelda (played by Maria Masonou) covered in blood, seeking sanctuary in the cathedral of Notre Dame. She faces a triangle of conflict with a deeper narrative than imaginable. A ghostly unearthly figure, Stryga (played by Lizzie Burder) confronts Esmerelda about the past events which have led to this current moment. With some elements of the show I feel that the voice of the figure in the abyss was enough, and there was no requirement to show a representation of this character. There were other visual moments that the use of silence and imagination could instead portray better.
The space used is the best location; given the grandness, natural acoustics, and feel of this location, there is no doubt of the impact this adds. Transitioning smoothly through scenes with the use of projection and colour shifts for different moments depicting flashbacks in black and white makes it easier to tell the timeline and follow directions.
By filming the piece, the audience can witness close-ups and details which may otherwise be missed. They make great use of the interior taking us to completely different spaces throughout, allowing for intimacy in the story.
Unfortunately, the script wording (adapted by Stuart Crowther) choices seem too simplistic in phrasing. Much of this story lends itself strongly to the visual; words could be less or more powerful with a refined selection.
The lighting by Eddie Stephens helps set the tone, adding the mood of the classic with the dramatic edge required. Continually, the sound design by Joseph Furey underscores parts beautifully and adds emotion.
Gary Duncan does a great job of showing the vulnerability and gentle simplicity of Quasimodo. Duncan Riches as the uneasy priest, Frollo, grows in characterisation within the 70-minute production varying from regret to evil desire.
Overall I feel this is a coming-of-age theatrical display combining liveness, accessibility, and an easy-to-follow retelling of a classic. All areas add a level of inclusivity to enjoy impelling new work superbly directed by Stephen Smith. With some edits and a revisit of the necessity of visuals to the story, this piece is a strong leverage for artists to follow in creation which I can only commend.
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