Posts Tagged ‘Lion and Unicorn’

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Othello and Twelfth Night at the Lion and Unicorn

Friday, 25 November, 2011

Othello and Twelfth Night will be in rep at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre, Kentish Town from 06 Dec – 18 Dec 2011, presented by New London Company, supported by Giant Olive Theatre Company’s New Talent Academy.

Established in early 2011the NLC is a theatre troupe based in and working all over the capital. Having started in Cambridge by undergraduates the company has recently moved to London to present its first full season of Othello, the Moor of Venice and Twelfth Night; the theme is hysteria and in both plays (they say) it ploughs its way through like a steam train with the machiavellians in both Olivia and Othello’s houses working their mischief for comedy and tragedy.

The company is, and has always been, about staging great works, whether they be classical, musical, modern or indeed brand new. Its hope is that the works not only shine through interpretations but that the actors and production team may also demonstrate great talent and quality of theatre.

For those who need reminding about the plots…

Othello is an army general and Desdemona his young wife. Having fallen in love and eloped, the happy couple relocate to Cyprus where they intend to live out the rest of their days. However, as the moor’s ensign Iago begins to corrupt Othello’s mind with evil nothings, hysteria overwhelms the court with deadly consequences.

In Twelfth Night, Duke Orsino prepares his stately home for a party at which he intends to woo the Countess Olivia. As fate would have it, a large storm that night erupts and traps them all in the house. Among those house-bound, are a set of identical twins who have been separated and shipwrecked on opposite sides of the Island. Deception and disguises, imprisonment and impersonations, proclamations of love are awash in this stormy black comedy about the peculiar and hysterical goings on in the once quiet town of Illyria.

More at www.giantolive.com

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I Would that Your Dark Eyes Were Upon Me

Wednesday, 18 August, 2010

Ruthless, engaging, stylish

The Lion and Unicorn, 16 – 18 August, 9.30 (20 min)

Elina Akhmetova in an amazing piece of theatre

This physical theatre piece is set amongst some chairs in the simplest space possible. And yet in terms of impact, it is eerily – and wonderfully – effective. This could be the show of Camden Fringe this year. It was a privilege to witness such a committed performance.

The fact that it begins in total silence says something about intent. The fact that the first two characters to enter glide across the stage as though melded together says more. But is this intimidation or attraction? It seems to be both, and also part of a power struggle between the two, which has as one marker point in its development a place where the man is seized by the woman and carried away, upside down.

Gradually, a third character joins the man and the woman. The development of their elliptical relationship, to the point where she literally joins the two, to become a new kind of being, is the subject of the second part of this short but intense experience.

The silence is broken sometimes by brief snatches of song, by a heartbeat soundtrack and eventually and quite shockingly by voices.

But the effect of the piece of a whole is dramatic in every sense. The dancers flow into positions which never seem to be forced, and they demonstrate amazing capabilities – as when the man makes the woman fly – and if that implies that this is some kind of circus, it’s not – it’s compelling physical theatre.

The other members of the company are Kyoungee An and Hadleigh Harrison.

Apparently, this was a very late addition to the Camden Fringe programme (it just made it to the Camden Fringe website) and the organisers were worried about fitting a show as short as this one into the schedule. As it is, tickets were just a fiver (as opposed to the standard £7.50 price), but this was one of those shows where you just couldn’t equate the impact to the time spent delivering it. The whole thing was probably frighteningly energetic for the performers. Probably, beyond 20 minutes their ability to keep up the pace would have gone into sharp decline.

But the overall impression is one of style and impact; this could be the most intense twenty minutes you’ll ever spend in a theatre.

Performers: Elina Akhmetova, Kyounghee An, Hadleigh Harrison. Choreography – Elina Akhmetova; Lighting – Mikkel Svak

reviewed 17 August

(c) Michael Spring

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Macabret

Monday, 9 August, 2010

Clowns deliver creepy cabaret

London – The Lion and Unicorn Theatre – 4 – 5 August 10 – 18:30 (1:00)

Clowns At Work’s second outing together does what it says on the tin.  Only it’s written in clown: this is macabre cabaret.  Three clowns in far more than three guises entertain with a variety of morbidly and spookily themed skits.

Cabaret clowns, it would appear, are gloriously aware and unaware of stagecraft.  As cabaret performers, they all perform willingly to a soundtrack which encompasses the thrillingly chilling, the suitably dramatic (Beethoven’s 5th) and sometimes the delightfully inappropriate (Elvis’s Love Me Tender).  But the clown in them can still be surprised or frightened by music and sound effects as well.  A prop will be stylishly caught in the wings then comically dropped a moment later.  And one clown clearly hasn’t read the horror brief at first.

A member of the undead (Marc Frost) writing a suicide letter to his mother is a wonderful conceit.  While his amusing attempts at the act itself could do with more polish, Alica Da Cunha’s inanely grinning helmeted aide to undead euthanasia is a sight to behold.  Her later turn as a clown pursued by death, whilst simultaneously performing death pursuing a clown is also very funny.

Marc Frost has a great stage presence as Dracula, but is at his best as a cross dressing story-telling clown with a macabre appetite for babies.  Watching him feed is fantastic; he should indulge us more.  Daniela Bitzi is a charming yet sinister clown.  Her Germanic witch’s cookery class is highly entertaining and her turn as a boxer, wooing ladies to less savoury ends, is a clownish triumph of mime, performed to a wonderfully comic choice of musical accompaniment.  All three performers move well, however there is mime which could do with more clarity.  Some sketches drift in search of an ending, and the Frankensteins do not deserve such lengthy stage time in their present form.

Adding horror to cabaret and vice versa brings humour to both.  The laughs are there, though more could found and some moments edited to avoid excess.  The show is restricted a little by the constraints of the space (these clowns could do with wings).  Despite the theme, there’s little in the way of frights, but Macabret can be very funny and the spectacular climax is both gruesome and haunting…

Cast Credits: (alpha order):  Daniela Bitzi,  Alice Da Cunha,  Marc Frost

Company Credits:  Devised by the Company.  Stage Manager – Elizabeth Scales.  Company – Clowns at Work.  Website – www.clownsatwork.com

(c) Ben Neale

Reviewed Thursday, 05 August 2010 / The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, London UK

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