Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category


Death of a Theatre Critic. 1 May to 5 May at the Pleasance

Tuesday, 1 May, 2012

Joakim Groth’s 2009 play comes to England

Death of a Theatre Critic is a dark comedy about chance and destiny following the hardships of a theatre director. After having his latest production torn to pieces by the leading critic, he then encounters misfortune in his private life as well. Things are going down hill fast. Alone and unhappy he goes all-in on one card to put everything right again. A decision with unforeseen consequences…

Today, we find it hard to accept this absence of freedom, the predestination of people’s lives. We like to believe that we can choose our fate. Perhaps that is why we find it difficult to accept the inevitable condition of our lives; namely that can only be, precisely as in the ancient dramas, only one possible ending. There is only one ending.


Bookings are now open for this year’s BBC TV Drama Writers’ Festival.

Tuesday, 1 May, 2012

Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th July 2012 at Leeds College of Music, Leeds

The TV Drama Writers’ Festival is a unique gathering for professional television writers. It provides a unique opportunity to mix with BBC drama commissioners and producers, and writers who are at the top of their field. The Festival includes a mix of masterclasses, conversation and debate – led by writers for writers. It is an opportunity to be inspired, challenged, and to debate. The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Ambition’.

The 2012 festival will be chaired by Peter Bowker – with Stephen Butchard, Toby Whithouse, Emma Frost, Ashley Pharoah and Jack Thorne helping to put the sessions and masterclasses together.

Sessions include:-

Comedy Drama – What all the broadcasters want
Creating Contemporary Coppers
Transferrable Formats
Continuing Drama Series – The Slow Burn
The Script Editor/ Writer relationship

More at


Hidden Gems Tour Northern Venues

Wednesday, 25 April, 2012

Somebody’s Son by Marcia Lane is second production

Hidden Gems Productions are a new Theatre collaborative by established regional artists Amanda Huxtable and Marcia Layne.

Somebody’s Son is the second production of this new Theatre company.

This coming of age drama with a cast of eight will tour regional venues in Huddersfield, Sheffield, Bradford, Leeds and Salford.

Thursday 31st May – Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield
Friday 1st / Saturday 2nd June – Library Theatre, Sheffield
Thursday 14th June – Theatre in the Mill, Bradford
Friday 15th June – Seven Arts, Leeds
Saturday 16th June – The Lowry, Salford



Sonata Movements – Drama and Music at the Blue Elephant until May 5

Monday, 23 April, 2012

Sonata Movements is a combination of drama and music put together by AT Concert Theatre. Four short pieces of theatre make up the programme. Three are ‘proper’ scripts, and one is an accompanied reading of TS Eliot’s ‘Portrait of a Lady’. In counterpoint to them is the music – piano playing of great style and intensity performed by An-Ting Chang.

If you went along solely for the music, I don’t think you’d be disappointed. An-Ting Chang, currently studying for a PhD in music performance at the Royal Academy of Music, plays with a lot of verve and has taken on here some of the monstrously intricate and well-known pieces in the piano repertoire. Pieces by Shubert, Chopin, Prokoviev and Beethoven all feature.

Alongside these are the dramatic performances. First is a two-hander, ‘Abortive’, an early piece by Caryl Churchill in which the piano becomes a part of the presentation. The play describes quite painfully a couple whose assumptions about their relationship have been fractured. Kenneth Emson’s ‘Other People’s Gardens’ follows, a short piece enlivened by the fresh and honest performance of Darren Douglas-Letts. James Northcote is next tasked with delivering TS Eliot’s ‘Portrait of a Lady’ and finally, Jonathan Newth gives us Svetlovidov, the embittered actor whose powers are failing fast, in Chekhov’s ‘Swan Song’.

All are very competently played and it is an interesting programme, but from an audience’s point of view, the question to be answered is whether the music adds to the dramatic presentation. Some of the pieces unquestionably worked better than others, and a familiarity with them would certainly help. Sometimes the music, stylishly played though it was, did seem to fight against the actors’ delivery, rather than enhancing it. Sometimes too, it was impossible not to make a choice of concentration between the music and the drama.

Probably the most effective piece overall was the dramatised TS Eliot poem, which seemed to fit nicely with the Chopin Nocturne, each ‘positioning’ the other in terms of style and character. The others were harder work for this member of the audience certainly, and this is not the kind of production that allows you to drift along under its spell. There are some great moments, when the music really does underscore the text of the plays (in the Chekhov particularly when Svetlovidov redicovers some of his old youthful intensity), but more often the audience is faced with a difficult choice of where to address its concentration, largely because of the quality of both music and dramatic presentation.

More at:

Pianist – An-Ting Chang; Cast – Abortive; Mark Denham, Tiffany Wood; Cast – Other People’s Gardens; Darren Douglas-Letts, Mary Sheen; Cast – Portrait of a Lady; James Northcote, Tiffany Wood, Joyce Greenaway, Mary Sheen; Cast – Swan Song; Jonathan Newth, Joyce Greenaway

Music Designer – An-Ting Chang; Director – Jude Christian; Designer – Louis Carver; Lighting – Sarah Louise Colgan; Associate Designer – Gary Thorne; Executive Producer – Chi Ying (Mandy) Leung; Stage Manager – Hugh Allison


Barrie Keefe’s Barbarians. Begins next week in Tooting

Friday, 13 April, 2012

Barrie Keefe

First performed in 1977, Barbarians is set in a period of record highs in youth unemployment, government spending cuts and social unrest.

Set in the year before the winter of discontent, parallels with today’s society are starkly apparent in 2012 with unemployment and economic hardship once again on the news agenda.

The play will be performed from 17th April – 12th May at Broadway Studios, a converted Youth Enterprise Scheme just off Tooting High Road, a fitting venue for this timely revival.




From Start to Finnish (geddit?) at the Pleasance

Friday, 13 April, 2012

The Overcoat & Death of a Theatre Critic

From Start to Finnish is an initiative between The Pleasance Theatre Trust and ACE Production, Finland with the mission to bring Finnish work to the UK and take British work to Finland. This new programme is intended to reveal Finland’s successful and astonishing approach to theatre, its diversity, its talent and its successes. The Pleasance welcomes two critically acclaimed Finnish works to be performed in London for the first time.

The Overcoat

The Overcoat is a modern reinterpretation of Nikolai Gogol’s famous short story.  Akaky McAkay, a sympathetic yet inconspicuous bank clerk, finds himself in financial dire straits and believes his happiness lies in a brand new overcoat.  This fateful decision sparks an incredible and often hilarious journey through the jungle of modern work life and global economy, all the way to the very fundamental questions of his existence.  However, amidst all the comedy, The Overcoat never loses sight of the fact that decisions taken at the highest levels of international finance can have devastating consequences for ordinary people.

Death of a Theatre Critic

This dark comedy about chance and destiny follows the hardships of a theatre director when, after having his latest production torn to pieces by the leading critic, he then encounters misfortune in his private life as well. Things go downhill fast. Alone and unhappy he goes all-in on one card to put everything right again. A decision with unforeseen consequences…

The Overcoat
Tuesday 17th – Saturday 28th April, 7.30pm

Death of a Theatre Critic
Tuesday 1st – Saturday 5th May, 7.30pm

More at


Wales Drama Award – Open Now

Wednesday, 4 April, 2012

Welsh Drama Award - a big and prestigious prize

The first writer’s award in Wales for a drama in any medium is looking for bold, original writers who want to write for two of the most dynamic companies. BBC Cymru Wales TV Drama, BBC writersroom and National Theatre Wales are working in partnership on this prestigious award, looking to celebrate writing talent working in Wales.

Writers are at the heart of all great drama. Launched to tie in with the opening of the BBC Roath Lock Drama studios this is a celebration of writers in the region and an open call to Welsh talent, emerging and established.

The winner of the Wales Drama Award will receive £10,000 with two runners-up receiving £1000 each. All award winners will be given an opportunity to develop their script / ideas with either BBC Cymru Wales TV Drama or National Theatre Wales.

The competition is open to any writer residing in Wales. The organisers want to encourage writers who feel passionate about the stories they want to tell, and who have something to offer audiences across the length and breadth of Wales and the wider UK.

Writers must submit a full length script in any medium, minimum length 30 minutes, to BBC writersroom ( by July 16th 2012, that is unperformed or unproduced and in the English language.


Late night thoughts: The Lonely One at the Little Angel

Friday, 30 March, 2012

Dotted Line Theatre’s production is based on an excerpt from a novel by Ray Bradbury. Its plot is grounded in small town America, but in a more innocent era perhaps, although the events around this small town, where murders are being committed by a shadowy figure known as ‘The Lonely One’ certainly do something to replace innocence with an atmosphere that is at times close to surreal.

On the surface, everything is fine. Below is a seething morass of issues. Does Lavinia’s delight in the warm air brushing her thighs denote some sexual undercurrent? She is after all, an old maid at 36, unmarried and perhaps, despite all her self-assurance, lacking some aspect of adventure. Are the men somehow complicit in the brutality? Is the man in the drugstore who reveals Lavinia’s address to a stranger really innocent?

So, it’s no surprise that Lavinia and her friend drive themselves to the brink of hysteria as they go out to the cinema and then return, after dark.

This production is all about stagecraft. The set features some small cardboard houses, lit within and cleverly brought into relief, so that they look almost three-dimensional while actually being nearly flat. The houses open at various times to reveal something of what is going on within – drinks on a verandah, a man in a rocking chair, a smoker.

That is part of the stagecraft. The other aspect is the way that the actors add dimensions to their playing using small props and above all hand-held lights. Fireflies swarm in the air, a lifeless arm is lit to denote a body, and most cleverly of all, a hand flickering in front of a lantern conjures the atmosphere of the cinema where a Charlie Chaplin film is playing.

The effects are often surprising; sometimes they are beautiful. The plot itself will appeal to anyone who likes suspense and surprises too, which abound. And what is most surprising is the way that the plot can manipulate our feelings, even after a seemingly endless diet of horror films and plays. Perhaps that shows how suggestion often overpowers the blunt instrument of the obvious.

This one-hour production is both elegant and entertaining. Cleverness, wit and charm are its hallmarks.

Reviewed at the Little Angel Theatre, 29 March 2012

Cast: Jennie Fox – Francine; Katie Pattinson – Lavinia; Sophie Steel – Elizabeth; Charlie Tighe – Men

Director – Rachel Warr; Designers – Tom Crame and Rachel Warr; Sound – Ben Oliver; Costume – Lexie Lambert; Lighting support – Dan Saggars; Stage management – Zoe Sofair; Trainee producer – Alex Green

(c) michael spring


Highlights of the Pleasance Spring Season

Wednesday, 28 March, 2012

The Pleasance in Islington has announced its Spring Season. These are some of the shows.

21st March – 8th April
A twisted celebration of what it means to be an American citizen, Assassins brings to life the men and women who have attempted or succeeded in assassinating American Presidents, from Lincoln to Ronald Reagan, and asks what made them believe that murder might be the only option to settle a variety of obscure motives.

Humphrey Ker’s Family Variety Half-Hour
30th March & 19th April
A brand new show of sketch, song and character comedy, from Fosters Comedy Award Best Newcomer: Humphrey Ker and special guests.

Matilda, Mike & Dan
3rd April – 7th April
A dark new comedy from Professional Help Productions that explores friendship, love, sex and power, and what happens when the rules of the games we play, change. Written by Rebecca Windsor and Directed by Antony Law, ‘Matilda, Mike & Dan’ follows the relationship of two men and the effects a woman and a take away can have in just one night.

The Overcoat
17th April – 28th April
After finding himself in financial dire straits, a sympathetic but inconspicuous bank clerk, believes his happiness lies in a brand new overcoat. This fateful decision sparks a journey through the jungle of modern work life and global economy meeting larger-than-life characters along the way; eventually questioning his own existence.

More at



Women’s War

Thursday, 22 March, 2012

Women of Troy at the Blue Elephant theatre

For this group of women, the world has ended.

Troy has fallen to the Greeks and, with the burden of so many dead still to be borne, they are now without status, without identity, without a future. Pain, physical and mental, is to be their legacy, and now, with the full force of its presence beginning to be felt, the question for the women of Troy is how to salvage anything from the wreck of their state.

There aren’t too many feelings to be spared. Children die, humanity and dignity are gradually taken from them, until they can only question what identity might be. The play is a fairly relentless examination of what being human – and what being a woman – might actually entail.

But this is a big production – sixteen actors – and it is elegantly staged by Fringe Report Award winning director Ricky Dukes. This is true from the opening scene where the women appear on the stage through the smoke and then collapse into a tableau reminiscent of Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa. From that moment on, sound, lights and movement are used to great effect to punctuate the process in which the women are stripped of every vestige of dignity and hope.

And yet their response to their situation allows them to re-acquire their presence and some vestiges of dignity, even though everything is to be taken from them. This is an ensemble performance, in which it is collective, rather that individual talent which is to be admired, but there are many good performances – Alice Brown as the once-queen Hecuba, carrying the weight of expectation as well as pain, Ina Marie Smith as the initially hopeful Andromache coming to a dreadful realisation, and the excellent Kerrian Burton, playing Cassandra with real threat and almost casual intent as the future consort of Agamemnon, in whose sandals very few people would wish to be.

There are big questions here – about the nature of identity and the worth of the individual, about preserving dignity in the face of death and humiliation. It is not a comfortable evening, but it is one that is both elegantly and stylishly staged and it has some really impressive moments as the inevitable becomes reality and these women learn together that it is only their determination to be which creates them.

Cast: Lalla Alj – Francesca; Gemma Beaton – Athena; Kerrian Burton – Cassandra; Jaclyn Bradley – Madeline; Alice Brown – Hecuba; Rayanna Dibs – Collette; Lauren Garfitt – Abigail; Jessica May – Rosanna; Ina Marie Smith – Andromache; Neusha Milanian – Helen; Cate Myddleton Evans – Bertrande; Ruth Paterson – Hero; Victoria Porter – Marianne; Emma Jane Richards – Hope; Meriel Rosenkranz – Adriana.

Ricky Dukes – Director; Nick Kent – Sound design; Alex Musgrave – Lighting; Julia Cave – Movement director; Emily Stuart – Costume; Gavin Harrington-Odedra – Associate director; Sophie Gilpin – Assistant director

(c) michael spring