Archive for August, 2010

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The Kevin Gillette Interview – Ruby Jerins

Thursday, 26 August, 2010

Ruby Jerins (c) Alana Jerins 2010

Ruby Jerins is a very busy actress – between film engagements (“Shutter Island” and “Remember Me,” to name two recent works), a recurring role on television’s “Nurse Jackie”, ballet, and school, she barely has time to just be Ruby.  But she was able to carve out some time to talk with Fringe Report’s Kevin Gillette via Skype, and a portrait of a charming, talented and energetic young girl emerged:

Fringe Report – Ruby, I know you’re very busy, so I just want to thank you for taking a few minutes to talk with me.  First, how did you get started in acting?  You’ve been doing this a very long time.

Ruby Jerins – My mother acted, so when I was young, I sort of did what she did; I went with her.  At first I did modelling, when I was a baby, and then I went on my first audition and I booked a commercial, and so that’s how it got started.

FR – How old were you when you did your first commercial?  Because you’re only 11 now, correct?

RJ – I think I was 4 years old.  And Yes, I’m 11 now.

FR – And in addition to your mother being an actress, your dad is an artist, too – what sort of work does he do?

RJ – Yeah, my dad is an artist.  He’s known for his big charcoal drawings, but he also paints in oils and does some pastel work.

FR – What were your first roles, aside from the commercial – say, in film and television?

RJ – Aside from the commercial, I did “Six Degrees” – it’s a TV show – that was sort of my first big role.  Before that I had commercials and smaller parts in movies, some of which my mom were in.

FR – You do a lot of kinds of roles – for example, you’ve done some dark comedy with “Nurse Jackie,” and you do some dramatic stuff, such as the first time I ever saw you, which was in “Zoe’s Day.”  How do you get into character?  I mean, you’re this sweet little kid – how do you do this sort of thing?

RJ – When I audition, or when I prepare for a part, my mom works with me, and we sometimes write some notes about the character; like if it’s a period piece, we might research the time period.  And I think about people that I know that remind me of the character.  And I also listen to music that also reminds me of the character.  When I’m doing more emotional parts, I’ll think about someone I’m familiar with.  Usually I get to know the people I’m working with, so it’s easier to be comfortable with them, but if I need to, I can imagine that they’re somebody else and that helps me feel what I need to feel.

FR – Can you tell me a little bit about the training you’ve had?

RJ – I have never actually been in an acting class – some of my friends have – it would be cool, but I had never really thought about it before.  My mom helps me with everything, so she’s kind of a built-in acting coach.  I dance at Ballet Academy East – I take ballet 5 times a week, and I’ve been taking that for a long time.  At the ballet place I go to we have modern dance and pointe once a week, and I’ve taken tap dancing at the 92nd St. Y for a few years.  But I got too busy to continue.

FR – You have a very busy schedule – is it hard balancing acting, dance, school, friends, etc.?

RJ – I do a lot of things, that’s true – my school gives a lot of homework, and I usually get home around 8:30, and I tend to go to bed kind of late getting all of that done.  With my friends, well, during the weekends sometimes I’m able to see them, but during the week I usually never see any of my friends, except in school and at dance class.

FR – Are there any actors or actresses you’d like to work with, or any roles you’d like to do?  With luck, you have a long career ahead of you, so here’s a chance to dream a little bit.  What do you think?

RJ – I have to think about this one … I’m not sure if I have any dream *parts* at the moment.  All of the genres are fun; comedy I haven’t done as much.  I mainly do drama and stuff like that, emotional things, which is fun, but once in a while I like doing comedy.  I really just take it as it comes; I’m not really particular.  I mean, every single person that I’ve worked with has been really great.  There’s not one person that I’ve ever thought, “Oh, I wish I didn’t have to work with that person.” I just saw “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and really liked Johnny’s [Depp] and Leo’s [DiCaprio] work in that, especially.  I also recently saw “Bedtime Stories” and laughed out loud at Adam Sandler and Russell Brand.

FR – Ruby, again, I know you have homework to do, so I’ll let you go, but thank you again for taking time to talk with me.  It’s such a pleasure to meet you, and I know you have many great things ahead of you.  Don’t forget us little people!

RJ – <laughs>  You’re welcome – it was nice to meet you, too.

(c) Kevin Gillette 20 July 2010

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10th Prague Fringe Festival Announced

Wednesday, 25 August, 2010

10th Fringe Festival Praha, Friday 27th May – Saturday 4th June 2011

Prague should be a little warmer next summer

Fringe Festival Praha, Budecska 16, Vinohrady, 120 00 Prague 2, Czech Republic

Steve Gove – Founder and Director of the Fringe Festival Praha – writes:

Greetings from Edinburgh and the Mother Fringe. We are very excited to announce dates for our 10th Birthday Prague Fringe.  Our application section is now live too so if you are interested in applying to perform take a look – the closing date is the 8th of October 2010.

Spread the word on facebook, twitter and the like and let’s make this the biggest and best yet.

Check out all the details here: http://www.fringe.cz

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Pedestrian

Wednesday, 25 August, 2010

Edinburgh 2010 – Underbelly – 5-29 August 2010 – 19.00 (1.10)

Bells and Whistles!

Telling the nightmare tale of giant monocled goldfish, shopping precincts and the end of history through a unique multimedia experience via the conduit of one of the rising stars of Bristol attending Pedestrian carries with it an aura of excited anticipation.

Pedestrian was touted as some sort of multimedia extravaganza, with a performance that interacted with projections and imaginative use of music. This was true, for the first 5 minutes. Then the rest  of the show is performed in front of a image like the screen from guitar hero that moves disconcertingly; achieving nothing more than distracting from the performance. It’s frustrating, it’s like saying here’s what you could have seen.

Tom Wainwrights performance is excellent, it takes a great solo performer to fill a running time of over an hour with a single continuous monologue forged out of a series of interconnected poems. His writing is also fair to middling, with a decent turn of phrase and a pay off at the end which deserves more recognition than it will get through this production:

‘I’m not the worlds only apocalyptic poet’ Tom announces after 90 percent of the shows running time has passed. Then as all good poets apocalyptic poets should, he hits the audience with his unique view of the world, turns the entire performance into a cyclical nightmare referencing Fukuyama’s ‘End of history’ and exits with assured aplomb.

There’s a problem though, by this stage the show has dragged on for an hour and all Tom’s energetic antics can’t hide a lack of the truly original insight which would carries the audiences attention. This show shouldn’t have lasted the hour and ten minutes billed in the fringe programme, it should only have been 45 minutes long and it certainly shouldn’t have been its actual running time of an hour and twenty minutes.

If you are going to ask an audience to watch one man stand in one place for over an hour, then you’d better have more than just bells and whistles to entertain them. A particular example of this is Tom Wainwright’s investigation of coffee shop culture.

In what is a well written and presented section the audience are asked to invest their attention through several stanza’s of increasingly heightened material by the end of which nothing new or interesting has been discovered. The image of monocled  goldfish drinking a latte though interesting in itself does not add to the public consciousness about what is already well covered ground.

What happens then, is that engaging the audience so well on this topic (of no substance and no end-product) serves only to betray the trust of the audience.

Other well cited examples include – the friend who taps you on the opposite shoulder all day – the boy who cried wolf – and – the child who says ‘look over there’ while stealing your last polo mint – eventually you are going to wise up and not take your attention off your sweeties. And with theatre  and adults, particularly at the fringe, you had better be sure that all your material is worthy of attention otherwise by the time you get to the heart of what you want to say no one will be listening.

So, by the time the grand theme of the show (which is not trailed at any point leaving the show feeling one dimensional for the first hour) has been revealed – sections of the audience are jaded and unreceptive – experiencing a sense of disillusionment and unfulfilled self entitlement.  All of the hard work by Tom Wainwright, all his mugging for the audience, all his flailing limbs and carefully crafted facial expressions are for naught.

Cast Credits: (alpha order): Tom Wainwright – Himself.

Company Credits: Writer – Tom Wainwright. Director – Amelia Sears. Design – Simon Kenny. Music – Simon Wainwright. Company – Theatre Bristol and SEArED in association with Bristol Old Vic

(c) Stephen Redman

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Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Wednesday, 25 August, 2010

Edinburgh  2010 –   Gilded Balloon   –  4 – 30 Aug 10  –  22:50 (1.00)

Andrew Lloyd-Webber Never Dies

Every night, a different musical

If nothing else, ‘Showstopper! the improvised musical’ is a great night out, going by the grins on departing audiences’ faces.  But there is a lot more to this musical than simple fun and laughter. This is the kind of one-off show that gets people talking.

The process begins with suggestions from the audience.  Some are discounted, the best voted on democratically.  The cast then have no time at all to start acting and singing, directed by a mediator on the side of the stage who interrupts every so often, with ever increasing demands such as ‘I said more references to West End shows’ on the night of ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber Never Dies’.  Led by a keyboard player, the cast cleverly integrate humour, showstopping solos and even tuneful harmonies.  Utilising the well worn Lloyd Webber formula of wistful looks, slow steps towards and away from one another, peppered with regular smatterings of jazz hands, the result is a kind of cliché, as this is surely the only way that providing a new musical every night could work.  A funny farce of a musical follows.

The most impressive aspect of the show is the ability of the cast to think on its feet, coming up with endless rhyming couplets to tell a story that has not yet been written.  Quick thinking, talented comedians as well as accomplished musicians, this cast is at the top of their game.  Many of its members perform daily in other shows at the Fringe.  Despite the demands of improvising storyline, music and humour, awkward pauses are kept to an absolute minimum, and nearly all songs and sketches are to the standard expected in any musical.  Ruth Bratt, in particular, has a strong, versatile voice which is a pleasure to hear, and each of the remaining cast members is able to harmonise with whoever has begun singing, a peculiar skill considering that these songs have never before been sung.  Although a strategy for success which can be applied to each show must be in place, it is rather the experience and expertise of the cast, allowing imperceptible communication between its members, which paves the way for such delightful entertainment in demanding circumstances.  A word with returning audience members (and there are many) confirms that each show is, indeed, improvised and unique.

In ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber Never Dies’, the audience was treated to a story of betrayal and ultimate devotion between two sisters, hopeful to follow in their father’s footsteps and sing on stage at Lloyd Webber’s memorial gig.  With X factor style hopefuls, a sob story, baddies in the shape of directors looking for cash (singing a catchy background rift of ‘and the money keeps rolling in’), and the final realisation that neither money nor fame brings happiness, perhaps this generic sequence of characters and ideas is standard, but it is brought together by quick, commendable, stand-up style humour.

The musical talent and comic expertise of this cast is unquestionable, and the idea for the show, innovative.  However, as control comes largely from the on stage director, more audience input may be appreciated.  Cast members laughing aloud at their ludicrous of-the-cuff ideas (‘no I’m not doing that, that’s too weird’) is endearing, and authenticates the improvisation aspect, but could make an audience feel isolated if they miss the in-joke.  Occasionally these jokes become a little naughty.  Then again, this is a late night show, and political slights aside, there is nothing to offend here.

Watching ‘Showtopper! the improvised musical’ is like watching stand-up, enjoying West End wonders, and being treated to something unique all at the same time.   A great show.

Cast and company credits:  Chris Ash.  Ruth Bratt.  Julie Clare.  Dylan Emery.  Pippa Evans.  Sean McCann.  Adam Meggido.  Phillip Pellow.  Nigel Pilkington.  Andrew Puglsey.  Oliver Senton.  Lucy Trodd.  Duncan Walsh-Atkins.  Sarah-Louise Young.

(c) Claire Higgins 2010

Reviewed Saturday 21st August 2010.

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He’s Not Black

Tuesday, 24 August, 2010

London Festival Fringe – The White Bear Theatre Club – 23 & 29 Aug – 19:30 (1:45)

It’s New Years Eve 2008, Barack Obama is about to be sworn in as the first black president of the United States, and four friends are out celebrating the holiday in style at a local night club.  For Jeremy (James Hamilton), a notorious drug dealer, it’s a chance for one more night of freedom.  In forty-eight hours, he will stand trial for possession of drugs with intent to sell, after having been handed in to the police by his best friend Leon (Wayne Joseph).  It’s also Jeremy’s opportunity to keep an eye on Leon’s movements.  Leon owes Jeremy a favour for his role in a previous crime, and Jeremy has convinced him to lie under oath on his behalf.  For Jennifer (Catherine Ashton) and Olivia (Teraiś Latore), wealth management advisors from the City, it’s a chance to drown their sorrows on the brink of financial and professional disaster.  As the evening wears on and the drugs and alcohol flow freely, the group discuss the effect that their race, gender, and class have had on their lives.  If a black man can become President of the United States, reasons Leon, then anything is possible.  ‘He’s not even black’, muse the others in turn, sparking a debate on what it is that defines race in modern Britain.

Set and costume design are appropriate for the piece.  Olivia’s red mini dress, gold shoes and belt, together with Jennifer’s black jumpsuit and accessories lend to the party atmosphere, as does the addition of the roped-off VIP area.  However, sound design detracts from the action.

Although ‘He’s Not Black’ is set in a night club, it is not necessary for dance music to be played continuously as a reinforcement of this setting.  Instead, it makes it difficult to concentrate on the script.  Likewise, the sound is used too often to stress the mood, when the acting and script should be sufficient.  Employing the use of fade in and out would have been better.

The cast of ‘He’s Not Black’ work well together as a company and are fully committed to their roles.  Wayne Joseph, in particular, turns in an emotional performance which captures well his character’s inner turmoil.  But the script and direction by Chima Nsoedo need more work.  At an hour and forty-five minutes in length without an interval, the play is too long with repetitive themes, and it fails to hold attention until the end.  Although a great deal is being said about race, the majority of it is clichéd without new insight.  There’s a mixed race woman struggling with her identity, a black woman trying to find her place in a predominantly white industry, a black man dealing drugs because he can’t find a better way to get himself out of poverty, and a young black man trying to better his situation at any cost.  These are familiar character types, and despite numerous plot twists and turns, their actions are highly predictable.  The characters presented are also not written as sympathetic, and because of this it’s difficult to maintain interest in their predicaments.

Additionally, some of the humour borders on offensive and ‘He’s Not Black’ is therefore not recommended for the faint of heart.  Jeremy states, at one point, that when he ‘fu*ks white women, he gives it to them hard to get back at them for slavery’.  Lines like this are uncomfortable, but if they are necessary within the greater framework and message of the play, they can be justified.  As written, they seem to serve no purpose other than shock value.

Cast CreditsCatherine Ashton – Jennifer.  James Hamilton – Jeremy.  Wayne Joseph – Leon.  Teraiś Latore – Olivia.

Company Credits:  Writer/ Director/ Producer – Chima Nsoedo.  Production Designer – Laurence Webb. Lighting/ Stage Management – Ross Pomfret. Sound Engineer – Daniel Vieco. Producer – James Hamilton. Producer/ Assistant Director – Fiona Bines. Assistant Director – Diana Mumbi.

(c) Megan Hunter 2010

reviewed Monday, 23 August

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London 48 Hour Short Film Award 2010

Tuesday, 24 August, 2010

Final Cut

London Festival Fringe – Roxy Bar and Screen, 18 August 2010

The entrants to this competition all have one thing in common: the ability to work to an extremely tight deadline.

Last February each entrant team was given a title and genre, both selected separately and at random, along with a deadline 48 hours later, when they had to submit the final product.

Each of the movies was posted on You Tube and the judges had the tricky task of scoring each movie, all of which are quite different from each other and come from many different genres. They couldn’t have been easy to compare. The winner was selected by a very narrow margin and announced at the end of the screening.

The evening overall was very enjoyable and wonderfully presented by Katya Ozols. Three of the judges were present and went through each of the entrant films giving an individualised critique to each of the teams, much to the interest of the rest of the audience, most of whom seemed to be in the industry. All seven films can be seen on You Tube or via link on the London Festival Fringe site. This is a great opportunity for filmmakers to showcase their skills without incurring huge expense. The judges were clearly enthusiastic about the process and had a lot to say in the Q&A session following the screening and award.

Team: Alma
Title: 3 Lives
Genre: Romance
Director: Mark Withers
On Screen: Trudi Jackson, Matthew Walker, Vivienne Gibbs, Fliss Walton, Lucy Caplin, Al Constantine, Nish, Tim Diggle

This movie was shot with a camcorder and documents the morning of an unconventional London wedding. It was part comedy and part romance.

Team: Art is Useless
Title: The Well of Loneliness
Genre: Suspense
Director: Jimmy Henderson

This movie is true to the genre. The filmmakers take quite a daring option in shooting the film in black and white and without dialogue. To compensate, the makers have used sound, music and beautifully eerie shots to create the atmosphere.

Team: Avocado
Title: What Maisie Knew
Genre: Biography
Director: Pavol Kajan
Writer: Annabel Dearing
Producer: Natalie Thomas
On Screen: Ruth Posner, Rob Lyndon, Provence Maydeo, Lady Suzy

This film was shot as a documentary. An unconvinced presenter interviews a young woman who has perfected the art of speaking with cats. It is a very clever idea and well presented.

Team: Spontaneous Skamp
Title: A day off
Genre: Fantasy
Director: Sophie Windsor Clive
On screen: Sande Schells, Adam Skidmore

This is a quirky movie showing Vincent Van Gough having some down time. The story is told through narration and some very memorable music. The shots and editing are very pleasing and the idea is unique.

Team: Water Rats
Title: Miss Lonely Hearts
Genre: Crime
Director: James Ward
Story: James Ward, Dory Dutton, Samuel Recko, Patric Lyons
Editors: Matthew Tanti, Aaron Moore

The grainy film and film noir shots combine with a very unusual story to create this film. There is nothing run of the mill about this film and all but the most intuitive of spectators will come away with more than a bit of doubt as to what they have actually just seen.

Team: Yardie Style
Title: She
Genre: Mystery
Director: Rhyannon Brand
Writer: Shelley-Ann Higgins
Actor: Lee Neville

The setting and sounds set up a creepy atmosphere. The script and acting maintain it. This short generated a lot of discussion as the version which was screened on the night was different to that which the judges judged. The filmmakers said that they accepted their marks on the original version, however due to a difficulty with editing within the deadline, they decided to present what they felt was the best cut for the entertainment of the audience on the night.

Award Judges: Phil Wood, Manager and Programmer at the Roxy Bar and Screen; Nathan Theys, Director, Film Creatives; Enrique Rovira, Director, Producer, Editingpoint.com; Kathy Hill, Director, Writer, ‘Down and Out in Cannes

Presenter: Katya Ozols

Reviewed 19 August

(c) Leanne O’Loughlin 2010

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Deirdre and Me, by Rachael Halliwell

Tuesday, 24 August, 2010

Street Life

Camden Fringe, Etcetera Theatre, 23 August, 7.30 (45 mins)

Deirdre's number one fan speaks out

This one-actor play was written by Rachael Halliwell who also plays the lead role of Susan, a lady of a certain age with a fascination for a TV star. It should charm and amuse anyone whose knowledge of Coronation Street stretches back a fair way, since the Deirdre of the title is of course the Deirdre of Corrie, whose career in the soap stretches back almost to the time when dinosaurs ruled the earth, or so it seems.

Susan, the character whose life is here explored, was born in 1974, the same week that Deirdre appeared on the cover of the Radio Times (or was it the TV Times?); whatever, you can see what I mean. And while Deirdre has spent the last thirty or forty years like a pinball, ricocheting from one crisis to another in her TV drama, Susan has been slipping quietly from fan to obsessive to worse.

The catalysts along that path have been the deaths of her parents. (Her father, of cancer when she was eleven. Her mother dies much more suddenly and recently). Her quiet friendlessness (working on the reception desk at a factory, where she is sporadically teased) is balanced by the proxy life she lives through the televised soap opera and its characters, and in particular, Deirdre.

So, it’s a drama of surface and sub-text as her explanations to us become more and more pointed and as the reality of the situation spirals gently at first, and then much more alarmingly out of control, and as our understanding of what is going on gets further and further from her comprehension. Susan is touchingly played by her creator Rachael Halliwell.

The set isn’t complex – a couple of chairs and a table, a candle burning as though in devotion to some odd sect – but there is clutter all around, copies of photos and postcards and TV magazines, and it is to this clutter that Susan obsessively returns in the brief intervals between her speeches.

The play is carefully directed by Louisa Fitzgerald and both she and Rachael Halliwell make the most of the many moments of comedy throughout the piece – both in terms of the script (‘She wore some lovely belt-skirt outfits’) and the props. (At one point, Susan dons some impressively huge glasses, which were, for so many years, Deirdre’s trademark in her TV role).

This is Rachael Halliwell’s first play as a writer and it is an assured debut.

Anyone who wants to be reminded of Deirdre’s chequered history over the many years of her TV performances will enjoy this play, and perhaps be warned in no uncertain terms about the dangers that might arise were enthusiams ever to slip into obsession.

Cast: Susan – Rachael Halliwell

Crew: Rachael Halliwell – Writer; Louisa Fitzgerald – Director; Company – Round Pebble Theatre (Producer – Eugenia Caruso).

Reviewed 23 August

(c) Michael Spring

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Pocket Change Comedy

Monday, 23 August, 2010

New Players Theatre, Saturday 14th August, 8pm (1hour, no interval)

Dud Fivers

Pocket change Comedy is a weekly Saturday night offering at the New Players Theatre under the arches near Charing Cross.  This stand up gig was performed in the theatre’s bar area to a rowdy crowd of about 50.

This venue is not ideal as a gig space with a staircase going through the middle of the room which means the audience has to fight for the sofa at the front of the bar.  If you were situated anywhere else you would need to make sure your hearing was tip top, since not only are the acoustics terrible, but the compere of the night (Ross Noble) seems to have forgotten the use of diction. No doubt what he was saying was probably amusing but there was only a slight titter throughout the room because unless you were sat at the front the likelihood of hearing much was zero.

The first stand up of the night was Rob Thomas, it was a poor start which was probably a product of nerves – he just didn’t play to the room but only the people sat at the front on sofas.  Half way through the set, only the crowd could be heard over the comedy. His performance was predictable with jokes about suicide bombers, the tube, and an impression of Bin Laden which sounded Spanish; there was no original material here.

The next stand up was Russ Powell originally from Brighton. He seemed very comfortable in front of the crowd with great opening gags and one-liners similar to Jimmy Carr.  The audience we engaged and constantly giggling throughout.  His jokes were about driving tests, French, road names and he even attempted a song which was a good effort even if it didn’t quite come off. Ross Powell has potential for the future as he was able to interact with the audience and perform with ease.

After Ross Powell was Kate Lucas who stole the whole evening with her musical comedy. Dressed in a little black dress, hoop earrings and striking red hair she started her set off with her bright blue guitar. The first comedic song was about getting it on with someone in her ex’s back garden, great delivery and excellent singing, because of the acoustic and sound system unfortunately the title of songs were sometimes lost.  She received the loudest applause of the evening. Her humour was dry and dark and her jokes about being single had some of the crowd at the back of the room crying with tears. Other songs were about Jeremy Kyle and the BNP. Her comedy and her presence were by far the best of the evening.  If this act hasn’t an agent yet she should have and definitely has a future in comedy.

Last stand-up of the evening was Jag Ghankas. He had the most interesting look with wacky hair, but his comedy was uneventful.  From the moment he was introduced his set fell flat, with poor delivery and no comedic timing, this set seemed doomed to fail from the start. None of his jokes seemed to have punch lines or even any obvious jokes; it seemed like an internal monologue that didn’t flow with pauses in between most subjects as though he had forgotten what he was about to speak about. In these pauses he uses the word “f***ing” a lot, which seemed really irrelevant and inappropriate.  He had one good moment where he joked about dating, but this was the only highlight of his set. Mid way through the audience seemed to be talking between themselves and more happy just drinking their pints.

If the acoustic and seating arrangement could be improved this would be a great venue for up and coming comedians to gig.  Russ Powell and Kate Lucas were the stand out comedians of this evening, but other than that there was a lot of mediocre comedy with a very self indulgent compere.

Compere: Ross Nolan: Comedians (in order of appearance):  Rob Thomas, Russ Powell, Kate Lucas, Jag Ghankas

http://www.newplayerstheatre.com

(c) Rebecca Talbot 2010

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Pawnography

Monday, 23 August, 2010

Romeo and Juliet, The Sequel

London Festival Fringe – 5-12, 20, 22, 25, 27 Aug 2010 – Rose Theatre Bankside, 19:30

The play is set in the fictional world of Purgatory.  Romeo and Juliet have died and, as punishment, have been thrust into this place ruled by a wicked Marquis de Sade.  He rules this world like his own private brothel and takes pleasure in sexually humiliating his occupants or using them to satisfy his own desires.

To set the scene for this alternate reality, the stage is divided into three areas.  There is a raised platform with an engraved wooden chair on it.  Artificial roses are strewn along the front with feathers on the front facing side.  The rest of the space is divided in two by tube lights.  There is a tree stump in each area with alternative halves of a red heart on the top of them.   A large projection of an illustration is on the far wall, explaining what the stage represents.  It depicts a man up high on a balcony overlooking two figures in two halves of a stone room, separated by a wall.  He can see them but they cannot see each other.

A disorientated Juliet ponders about Romeo’s whereabouts on one side of the wall.  On the other, Cupid ponders the whereabouts of his love Psyche, whilst maintaining his collection of Spanish flies.  The Marquis de Sade oversees all this and toys with his pawns in this giant game of chess.  He insults them, torments them and is generally quite immoral and sexual in his behaviour towards them.  Romeo and Psyche enter the picture also and, similarly disorientated and confused, try to figure out their current situations.  It is then up to Juliet and Cupid to make sense of it all and decide whether they will try to win back their lovers or let the inevitable happen and let the Marquis do what he will with them all.

Kitty Chapman plays Psyche as a vacant and nonchalant woman who lives for the flesh.  She cares not about Cupid, cares a little about Romeo and cares a lot about herself.

Adam Elliott is a fine Cupid.  He is barefoot and wears pair of torn cream knee length trousers.  He is bruised, cut and has two bloody stumps up high on his shoulders, like two wings have been wrenched off.  He portrays the tormented mind well.  Throughout the play the confusion and struggle are played out through his facial expressions, actions and eloquent speech.  He is animated and humorous and able to gain empathy also.

Lucy Grainger is a Juliet with a child’s innocence but quickly matures due to her situation.  She wears a black dress with a metal cross around her neck and is barefooted.  She has a sweet voice, demonstrated near the end in a wedding song.

Adam Hall is a dashing Romeo.  Wearing an embroidered black shirt and black trousers, he strides in, head held high and holds himself well on stage.  He is not in the play that often but when he is, he makes it count.  He is charming and likeable and makes Romeo out to be a kind-hearted man who just wants to love and be loved.

Graham Hornsby is believable as a character plucked from the eighteenth century.  He wears a white shirt with puffed sleeves, cream knee length breeches, red tights and black shoes with a large buckle on them.  He maintains a skilful French accent throughout and it is quite humorous the ways he uses it to say various words to give them that extra edge.  He relishes in his role, is very sexual and has the look of a hungry lover about him.

Tracy Keeling writes in rhyme for the majority of the play and this positively adds to the atmosphere.  It is clever and humorous at times.  The story of Romeo and Juliet beyond death is an interesting one to consider and she has considered it with porn as the main ingredient.  She directs the cast well.  Cupid movements are the most effective as he uses a lot of the stage and has different levels and jumps up onto the fence behind them all at one point.  There are nerving moments however when the actors have to climb up onto the platform and if they are not careful, could end up plummeting to the excavation site below.

Jake Spicer’s illustration depicts the fantasy world cleverly and is essential to aid the play.  At the end, it turns into a disturbing picture of the same scene with Juliet dead and evil with leaves scattered all around her, like a scene from an old horror film.

Pawnography is what it is.  It is a blue version of the star-crossed lovers’ story, set in purgatory with a similar tragic and sad ending.  It could have been worthy of many more compliments but after a scene of a fourteen year old Juliet being sexually abused by the Marquis, there was simply no further merit to speak of.  A play best left on the fiction shelf.

Cast credits: Kitty Chapman – Psyche.  Adam Elliott – Cupid.  Lucy Grainger – Juliet.  Adam Hall – Romeo.  Graham Hornsby – The Marquis de Sade.

Company Credits: Writer/Director – Tracy Keeling.  Assistant Director – Belinda Wylie.  Fine Artist – Jake Spicer.  Musician – Sorana Santos (Lyrebird).  Operations Manager, The Rose Theatre Trust – Pepe Pryke

(c) Chantal Pierre-Packer 2010

reviewed Wednesday 11 August 2010

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Kink Ink

Monday, 23 August, 2010

In Basque Country

London Festival Fringe – Seven Dials Club – 18 August 10 – 20:00 (1:45)

The evening took place in the lounge of the Seven Dials club, a smart and relaxed space gracefully decorated with slightly erotic photos, setting the scene for the burlesque-influenced art to follow.

Favouring candles and soft lamps to the overhead fixtures, the Kink Ink models transformed the meeting room into a sultry den, with a simple stage at the front featuring a large leather sofa and small leather ottoman.  Dotted around the performance area easels accompanied by chairs, leather boxed ottomans and tables, offering myriad perspectives.  Brenda Brown provided pencils, pens, erasers, paper sheets of varied sizes and backing boards.  Armed with the supplies, the prospective artists settled into an evening of drawing.

Led by the vivacious Cecilia Lundqvist, the models opened with a series of brisk 2-3 minute poses, accompanied by a slightly indulgent soundtrack of wordless synthesized tones and sweeping ocean sounds.  Although a nautical theme had been introduced at the beginning, it felt an afterthought, neither well executed nor necessary.  In this introduction, the artists focused upon capturing the stance as a whole; warming up to the more demanding poses to follow.  The models then led into a burst of one-minute poses, with the artists scratching and scribbling furiously to old French jazz recordings.  In this case, the setting, costumes and poses harmonised perfectly.  Cecilia Lundqvist then reined in the pace, shifting to longer poses of five to ten minutes.  This allowed the artists in depth forays into the angles, folds and shapes laid forth.  The return to the epic soundtrack of before worked better in this instance, as it essentially suspended time.  Every eye in the room focused entirely upon the models. The evening finished with a return to the one-minute poses of before, welcomed by a fresh burst of jazz and emphasizing the surprisingly dynamic nature of the art of life drawing.

There were three models, providing a spectrum of textures and angles to capture.  Cecilia Lundqvist was the lead model and director.  Dressed in a simple, flowing peach night gown, she looked every inch 1930s pin-up model with her dark brown hair in a bob and bright red lipstick.  The shift was quickly discarded, revealing a sexy black and green under bust corset, black satin shorts and white stockings.  Though perfectly still, Cecilia Lundqvist’s poses radiated energy, similar to that possessed by the best ballet dancers.  She effortlessly presented a series of stances highlighting the intriguing angles and elegant shapes of the human body.  Julie Chaussat was flirtatiously decked out in a short cream satin negligee, with a deep blue trim.  Her short blond hair swooped across her face, escaping from underneath a jaunty sailor’s hat (the only real nod to the nautical theme mentioned above).  Her poses were languid, nearly to the point of being lifeless.  The wilted nature of the poses called for an examination of the long, elegant lines of the body and the soft ripples of satin. Sati Jhutti was resplendent with cascading dark hair, dressed in a scarlet corset and white pantaloons. Her poses appeared refined and contained in comparison to Julie Chaussat, though without the energy of Cecilia Lundqvist.  The combined effect evoked a gothic and old world atmosphere.

Cast Credits:  Julie Chaussat – Model.  Sati Jhutti – Model. Cecilia Lundqvist Model.

Company Credits:  Director – Cecilia Lundqvist. Director and Events Organiser for London Fringe – Brenda Brown.  Company – Kink Ink (www.kinkink.co.uk).  Organising Company – Creekside Artists (www.creeksideartists.co.uk

(c) Molly Doyle 2010

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