Friday, 1 April, 2011

Angela Bull plays Marjorie

The Courtyard Theatre, London, 8 – 27 March 2011

This painfully thought-provoking, high-status drama set in rural Oxfordshire is both distressing and excruciating at times.

The first scene does not hold back. Angela Bull who plays Marjorie is simply sitting over her breakfast in a rural cottage when she is rudely interrupted by the most chilling of visitors.

John Schumacher who plays Raul steals this piece by miles. Raul is played as a desperate, tough individual, intent on getting what he came for. There is a good deal of strong acting in this show but John Schumacher plays Raul with a menace that is unrelenting.

The first five minutes of this production involves attempted rape, suffocation and abuse. There are many ways the director could have gone with this piece but it is never taken too far and always kept in the land of believability. Extremities is a show that continually puts questions to the audience and never stops at making you feel uncomfortable. This is not the show to take your Granny or anyone who upsets easily. This piece is shocking within limits, and is incredibly provocative.

At the opening of scene three, we see that Marjorie has tied up Raul and trapped Raul in the fireplace after spraying his eyes with fly repellant at the end of the last scene. At no point does the energy drop; there is full emotion thrown into every moment. The actors must be exhausted by the end of this show, but the company’s effort is worth it. Both direction and acting command attention.

One annoyance from this production is Angela Bull’s hair. Her acting is marred because the audience has to try to see her face through her long mane and, lovely as it is, it would be better tied back. Another point is that this production seems too short. Usually shows are too long, but this could have done with 10 minutes extra in the first half. At the start of Act two, it feels like the character of Marjorie has become psychotic and gone from nought to sixty in terms of emotion without displaying anything in-between. Housemates of Marjorie, (Terry played by Hannah Dean and Kas Darley who played Patricia) took a while to warm up in their characters. Hannah Dean’s Terry was sometimes played as young and Kas Darley started off a little stilted but performed with great comedic timing in the second act when confronted with a man locked in a fireplace and a housemate intent on murder.

The end of the show is extremely evocative and will leave you walking home with a lasting impression of it your mind.  Marjorie looks like she will kill Raul. At this point he confesses his attacks on many women and asks to be tied back up in the fireplace so the police can come and get him.  Extremities never dips in terms of energy. It’s a very convincing piece of theatre and both director and actors seem pull together to create a very moving production.

Company: Epsilon Productions, Writer: William Mastrosimone, Producer: Angela Bull, Director Rob Stuart, Techinical Manager -Adam Burns,  Designer – Jessamy Willson Pepper, Fight Director–  Lewis Penfold , Photographer– Andy Colbourne, Print  Design– Andrew Gill.

Cast: Majorie – Angela Bull, Raul – John Schumacher, Terry – Hannah Dean, Patricia – Kas Darley

(c) Rebecca Talbot 2011


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