Posts Tagged ‘drama’

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Make the Fringe Report Awards even more special. Do you know someone who can help?

Friday, 12 November, 2010

The Fringe Report Awards Need Supporters

The ever-amazing Fringe Report Awards, one of the few pieces of recognition that Fringe performers are ever likely to receive, are an established part of the Fringe calendar – as well as being the occasion for a great party!

'Yeah! We got one!' Another winner of a Fringe Report Award. (c) Stefan Lubomirski de Vaux

Over the years, they’ve run with the support of a number of individuals, charitable organisations and commercial companies who have made the occasion possible.

We know that the Fringe Report Awards help to put the spotlight on deserving venues, performers, production teams and everyone working in the Fringe throughout Britain and around the world.

Now, the Fringe Report Awards needs a new set of supporters and donors, people or companies or organisations who can give as little – as £100 – or as

At the Fringe Report Awards, the Fringe's big party! (c) Bo Wilson

much as they want – to help the Fringe Report Awards survive and grow. In return, we’ll try to give everyone who helps as much recognition as possible, as well as our profuse thanks.

If you know someone who might help, if you are a PR with a client who could benefit from some exposure or if you can help yourself, email john@fringereport.com.
Supporting the Fringe Report Awards may not get you in the Honours List, but you’ll be sure of a place at the heart of fringe performance.

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Coming soon to the Etcetera, Camden

Tuesday, 2 November, 2010

In November and December

Pathological, by Freddy Syborn, from 10 to 14 Nov 2010. Paul is a massive liar. He can’t get close to women…He works in a morgue, loves Lethal Weapon, hates TV, can’t sing, can’t dance and frequently gets on the wrong side of sensitive bouncers. He also can’t really act.

The Universal returns to the Etcetera Theatre this winter

The Universal , by Kate Webster, presented by My Own Private Submarine, from 17 to 20 Nov 2010. For the open-minded and broken-hearted, a play about love, quantum theory and what makes the world go round.

The Wolfman Cometh, from 7 to 12 Dec 2010. Work ain’t fun when you’re the PA to an evil overlord. Wolfman (30, part wolf) just wants an afternoon off to go dragon-watching and let out the waistband on his pantaloons. Join us for a one hour comedy quest (with live ocarina music) through a fantasy landscape, as one man (part wolf) goes way outside his job description, does a lot of one-armed press ups and tries to save the world.

The Box Set, Fourplay Theatre present 2 adult comedies from Carla Griffiths Box Set series: The Box & The Italian Assassin, from 14 to 19 Dec 2010. The Box: A comedy surrounding two flatmates with secretive pasts and the paranoia they experience over the delivery of a mystery box. The Italian Assassin: What do you do when an assassin comes for you?

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The Company Man, by Torben Betts

Monday, 11 October, 2010

The Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, 19:45, 6th October- 6th November 2010 (2hrs 25 with interval)

This two-act play explores the history and future of a dysfunctional family and a troubled marriage with impressive impact.  At the same time, the production remains compellingly true to life.  Torben Betts’s touchingly humorous yet tragic script is handled subtly and maturely by all cast members.  Special mention must go to Bruce Alexander and Isla Blair. The one for his carefully paced, necessarily painfully slow, character progression, and the other for her brilliant adaptability – from energetic, bright-eyed, middle class and unable to make herself heard, to trapped in a wheelchair, struggling to speak but finally the centre of attention.

The Orange Tree Theatre boasts a reputation for being ‘the only permanent In the Round Theatre in London.’  This is all very well, but staging such an intimate production this way requires especial sensitivity of both direction and design.  To their credit, Adam Bernard (Director), Sam Dowsen (Designer) and notably William Reynolds (Lighting Designer), understand their space completely.  A Victorian chintz sofa with perfectly matching cushions, a small coffee table and pearl-peach light create the living room. Spin round and you enter the garden, remarkably it becomes impossible not to imagine the French door that separates them.  Dark green metal patio furniture, a soft limelight, speckled with yellow and the twitter of birds.  The final space is the Jane’s (Isla Blair’s) sick room. Cut off in a far corner, this white lit square, home only to a small night-stand bedecked with medicines and a CD player and digital video camera with its small hanging nightlight, is both disconcerting and strangely tranquil.

The play opens with a celestial shaft of light as Jane (Isla Blair) is wheeled in by her adult daughter Cathy (Beatrice Curnew).  William Reynolds’ lightscape provides a stark premonition of the play’s finally scene.  Quickly this light flashes out with the wave of brightness caused as a car passes under a bay window at night.  We hear the car.  Moments later James (Jack Sandle) confronts his sister Cathy in the opposite corner of the stage.

This first scene gets the play off to a slow start.  Beatrice Curnew’s acting is rather forced.  Her forward-jutting head and world-weary voice force her into a fixed state.  Her actions lack the presence that comes more naturally to the other cast members.  But then, Cathy is a hard character to play.  She (the character) excites an unpleasant and unremitting sense of pity in the audience which risks becoming tedious. To Beatrice Curnew’s credit she has created a character who is not really present to portray a coping mechanism.  Sadly this is a-dramatic.  Jack Sandle’s initial performance also feels a little stifled.  The pace is slow, the dialogue tired and James’ alcoholism (represented by him removing a bottle of wine and glass from his hold-all and lounging on the floor like a tipsy cat) is rather contrived.  The audience is left anxious that this is going to a very clichéd two hours indeed. The next scene, in which Jane is introduced, does little to relieve the worry. Isla Blair’s grating voice and paralysed left side are an expert portrayal of her illness but do slow the play’s pace horribly in this opening sequence and it is hard to care for the rather two-dimensional characters being set up.

However, the human encyclopaedia that is William (Bruce Alexander) brings an entirely new energy and life to the stage. He is a dangerous ball of brewing anger.  Bruce Alexander’s portrayal is flawless.  His rigid posture to his gormless mouth and slightly popping eyes, his northern twang and his contorted facial expressions all come together to create a perfect caricature.  Yet what make his performance special are the touches of softness that are undeniably there.  The play builds momentum wonderfully as it intertwines past and present action, clearly delineated through Isla Blair’s faultlessly swift changes from immobility to sparkling life. From the demonic father with a bloodied face and a belt in his hand, shouting his son out of his house, to a smiling ball of tense humour, perched on the sofa offering to take his wife to London for a show, “you can’t fault a Lloyd Webber!” Bruce Alexander’s William keeps the play alive while like a puppet, Isla Blair is heart-breakingly trampled by her husband in her days of good health, and in the present, carried by her daughter to her prison-like chair.

In act two, credit, while remaining with all the cast, must go to Jack Sandle. Faced with the impossible task of making James, an aging and manic-depressive selfish brat with a drink problem, human and subtle he succeeds.  “If you’re gonna scream at me” he shouts into his iphone, his rant interjected seamlessly with snippets of his father ranting about the benefits of capitalism from the garden, “then you’re gonna have to scream at me in English!”  His marriage to his “little Thai bride” is falling apart.  Jack Sandle’s comic timing is impeccable.  His childish grief, however, is unnervingly believable, “I don’t want her to die.” He repeats again and again when talking about his mother.  His wide mouth, his trembling lower lip and his loose hanging arms perfectly capture the sense that he is a lost little boy, turning to alcohol because he never really learnt how to “be a man.”

This is a tear jerker of a play.  It is a striking impression of domestic life gone sour.  William is the self-made ‘Company Man,’ whose own business, drive and success have demolished his personal life and the lives of those he most loves. Precise direction and some fantastic performances make this production well worth seeing.

Company Credits: Director – Adam Barnard. Designer – Sam Dowson. Lighting Designer– William Reynolds.  Assistant Director – Teunkie van der Sluijs.  Fight Director – Philip D’Orleans.  Stage Manager – Stuart Burgess.  Deputy Stage Manager – Sophie Acreman.  Assistant Stage Manager – Becky Fisher.  Production Technicians – Michael ‘Gadget’ Sowby, Hilary Williamson.  Assistant Design – Katy Mills.  Production Photographer – Robert Day.  Rehearsal Photographer – Teunkie van der Sluijs.

Cast Credits: Bruce Alexander – William.  Isla Blair– Jane.  Beatrice Curnew – Cathy.  Nicholas Lumley– Richard.  Jack Sandle – James.

(c) Rebecca Gibson 2010

Reviewed Friday 8th October 2010

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Consequences, by Duncan Battman

Wednesday, 18 August, 2010

Jigsaw puzzle murder

Edinburgh 10 – Sweet Grassmarket – 5-15 August­­ 2010 – 14.35 (1:10)

Consequences is an intriguing and thought-provoking play from writer Duncan Battman which stubbornly refuses to yield its secrets.

The occasionally darkly-comic drama opens with two policemen arriving at a house to discover the rotting body of an elderly man.  The younger policeman, Danny (Mark Butt), finds a suicide note in the fridge confessing to the murder of a prostitute – a crime which was attributed to a local man who later committed suicide in jail.  Alan (Martin Pritchard), Danny’s sergeant, was involved in the original case but insists that the procedure of the day was followed, much to the disgust of his younger colleague.

The story is taken up by the apparent murderer, a librarian called Norman (Tony Broughton), who appears on stage in a spotlight – an apparent ghost – who explains how he ingeniously hid the body and his need to “attempt to put things right” with his confession.

He is joined by the spirit of Cilla (Sarah Roberts), the dead prostitute, and they tell how the unlikely pair met when Cilla found refuge in Norman’s library, hiding from the drug dealers she owed money to.  Norman agrees to let her stay at his house, where he lives alone following his mother’s death a decade earlier, and their friendship begins to grow.  It is only whent they start to become close that the possible reasons behind Cilla’s grisly end begin to become apparent.

As this tale is told the action occasionally flits back to the policeman arguing over the morality of destroying the confession and the multiple victims of the crime.  Stark contrast is made between the modern police force and the way suspects were treated in the good/bad old days.

The writing is sparky and effortlessly moves between the two plots without ever becoming confusing.  Duncan Battman shows a fine ear for language, with natural and unforced making all the characters three-dimensional and absolutely believable.  There is not an ounce of flab in the whole performance – with each line advancing the story or the ongoing moral battles taking place withing the minds of the protagonists.

The cast are uniformly exemplary, but Tony Broughton stands out, instilling the spirit of Norman with great dignity, undertones of sadness and the occasional spark of menace.

The set is a simple affair, mocking up a kitchen where all the action takes place, while lighting is cleverly utilised to switch between the two levels of the story.

The conclusion of the play is somewhat sudden and leaves much unresolved but is no less satisfying for that. It is a jigsaw puzzle of a performance and it is satisfying to try to piece together all the possible conclusions.

Cast Credits: Tony Broughton – Norman.  Mark Butt – Danny.  Martin Pritchard – Alan.  Sarah Roberts – Cilla.

Company Credits: Writer – Duncan Battman.  Director – Mark Butt.  Assistant Director – Val Watkinson.

(c) David Hepburn 2010

Reviewed Friday 15 August / Sweet Grassmarket, Edinburgh, UK