The finalists of The Offies 2020

The finalists for the 2020 Offies (for performances in 2019) have been announced and congratulations to all 89 mentioned below. A tip of the hat too to the 400+ nominees who you can find here.

DESIGN

Design: Costume
Adrian Gee, Amour, Charing Cross Theatre
Emily Bestow, 42nd Street, Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Hannah Wolfe , Great Expectations, National Youth
Theatre, Southwark Playhouse

Design: Set
Diego Pitarch, Night of the Living Dead – Live!,
Pleasance
Justin Williams, Whistle Down the Wind, Union
Theatre
Lee Newby, The View UpStairs, Soho Theatre
Rachael Ryan, Thrill Me, Hope Theatre

Design: Sound
Benjamin Grant, The War of the Worlds, New Diorama
Lex Kosanke, Hunger, Arcola
Matt Eaton, All’s Well That Ends Well, Guildford Bard,
Jermyn Street Theatre
Xana, Blood Knot, Orange Tree

Design: Lighting
Christopher Nairne, Preludes, Southwark Playhouse
Clancy Flynn, An Act of God, Vaults
Jessica Hung Han Yun, Equus, English Touring Theatre,
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Nic Farman, Night of the Living Dead – Live!, Pleasance

Design: Video
Andrzej Goulding, The Unreturning, Theatre Royal
Stratford East
Ben Bull, Baby Reindeer, Bush Theatre
Douglas Baker, Moby Dick, Jack Studio Theatre Continue reading “The finalists of The Offies 2020”

Review: Effigies of Wickedness, Gate

“The world’s gone nuts, so best of luck”

Only a quickie for this as I didn’t make it until the end of the run. Effigies of Wickedness is exactly how you’d picture a musical at the Gate Theatre going and all the better for it, we need spaces led by the daring of the likes of Ellen McDougall to cock a sideways glance at how British theatre is run and gently suggest the many ways in which it could be better.

Running time: 100 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Helen Murray
Effigies of Wickedness is booking at the Gate Theatre until 9th June

Review: Trust, Gate

Trust, Gate Theatre, London

Jude Christian offers up something excitingly experimental with the German play Trust at the Gate Theatre in West London

“I have to keep being original here and that’s really hard work
I CAN’T BE FUNNY AND ORIGINAL ALL THE TIME”

Between the Mandarin lessons and the sleep masks, the tequila shots and extended yoga, there’s an awful lot going on in Trust. A hell of a lot. But given that the last time Jude Christian directed a show here at the Gate she put two actual piglets onstage, it should come as little surprise that she’s challenging us once again. Plus the play’s German, so of course it’s batshit.

From the minute you walk into the Gate, having been handed your guide to the art installation and gingerly stepping over the Roomba that’s beavering away, we know we’re not in Kansas any more. Or Notting Hill. Or anywhere the likes of Billers or DomCav will consider safe. And over the next 100 minutes, Christian experiments with this theatrical space in breathtaking ways, performing in the play as well as a kind of guide on its bewildering path. Continue reading “Review: Trust, Gate”

Review: Assata Taught Me, Gate

“That boy is a revolutionary, he just doesn’t know it”

Frankie Bradshaw’s design for Assata Taught Me at the Gate Theatre is nothing short of wondrous, with its turquoise walls patched with corrugated iron, faded tiles on the floor. Along with Jack Weir’s lighting, all the colourful character of old Havana is evoked, along with the complex history right up to its contemporary situation. And it is in the modern day there that we find Assata Shakur, a woman who has the infamy of being the first woman to make the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

Shakur (mother of Tupac FYI) really does live in political exile in Cuba but Kalungi Ssebandeke’s play is a work of fiction, imagining the relationship that develops between her and a young law student to whom she starts to teach English. Kenneth Omole’s Fanuco isn’t aware of who his teacher is, the backstory with which we’re briefly acquainted as the show opens but as their lessons progress, it is increasingly clear how diametrically opposed the pair are. Continue reading “Review: Assata Taught Me, Gate”

Re-review: Grounded, Gate

“You can’t hide from the eye in the sky, my children”

Grounded ranked in my top five plays of 2013 when it first played the Gate, and I enjoyed it so much that I went back when it came back in 2014. And could I resist one more chance to see Lucy Ellinson’s extraordinary performance in George Brant’s ever-acute one-woman show, could I heck! Directed by Chris Haydon, Grounded cuts deeply into the psychology of outsourcing military decision-making to remote drone pilots, particularly this one soldier who new motherhood calls into question her previously easily gung-ho mentality. Definitely recommended.

Running time: 70 minutes (without interval)
Booking until 25th March

 

Review: The Convert, Gate

“There’s no place for a highly educated African woman here”

Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed was the best thing I saw in 2015 so the prospect of seeing her 2012 play The Convert, also at the Gate Theatre, was a joyous one indeed. And once again, Gurira turns her focus to the African continent, exploring the kind of history that I’m pretty sure is rarely featured in the majority of Western schoolrooms. The year is 1896 and the place is Rhodesia, the country now known as Zimbabwe, and The Convert takes a look at colonialism there from the inside out.

Chilford may be a native of this territory but taken from his family as a young boy, he has been moulded into an approximation of ‘an English gentleman’, the only black Roman Catholic priest in the area and tasked with the job of converting the population to the ways of their colonial masters. On the run from an attempt at forced marriage, Jekesai finds sanctuary under Chilford’s tutelage, renamed as Ester and quickly becoming his star pupil but as she comes to understand just how much she’s expected to give up, she’s left to question if there’s any safe haven at all. Continue reading “Review: The Convert, Gate”

20 shows to look forward to in 2017

2017 is only just over a week away now and the reviewing diary is already filling up! All sorts of headline-grabbing West End shows have already been announced (The Glass Menagerie, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Don Juan In Soho, The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia) and the National look to continue a sensational year with another (Twelfth Night, Consent, the heaven-sent Angels in America), so this list is looking a little further afield to the London fringe and some of the UK theatres I hope to get to throughout the year.


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Bolton Octagon

After hearing Elizabeth Newman speak passionately on a panel discussion about women’s theatre, I kinda have a big (intellectual) crush on her, so I’m very keen to see her tackle a new adaptation by Deborah McAndrew of the classic Anne Bronte novel in a theatre that is very close to my heart.
Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2017”

Review: The Iphigenia Quartet, Gate Theatre

“We all make – sacrifices”

And still the Greeks come. The Gate Theatre have taken Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis and asked four playwrights to react to it with short plays from varying viewpoints, giving us The Iphigenia Quartet. Split into two double bills, we thus get Caroline Bird’s Agamemnon and Lulu Raczka’s Clytemnestra, and Suhayla El-Bushra’s Iphigenia and Chris Thorpe’s Chorus, two strong pairings that crack open the Greek tragedy and offer a kaleidoscope of responses.

Such is the enduring resilience of the original that it can take diverse treatments – to wit, the trio of Oresteias that graced British stages last year – and packed into this studio intimacy and seen on the same day (as I saw them) or not, the impact is visceral and considerable. From the raw anguish of Bird’s duelling parents to Raczka’s academic debate spun on its head, from El-Bushra’s family of Marines to Thorpe’s babbling chorus of commenters, the shifting focus is at once enigmatic and entertaining.  Continue reading “Review: The Iphigenia Quartet, Gate Theatre”

Review: In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises), Gate

“Somewhere there’s a woman and

Nina Segal’s debut play In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises) begins with a couple bursting free out of shrink-wrapped confines, plastic film their amniotic sac from which they emerge with their tales of new-born woes. The problem is their new-born though, a baby daughter who just won’t stop crying and over the duration of one long, long night, they have their certainties well and truly rocked by the realisation of exactly what they have taken on as new parents in today’s world.

As Man and Woman recount the story first of how they met, then how they moved in together and soon found themselves expecting, we’re introduced to Segal’s poetic writing style of almost duelling narratives (“A woman and a man meet in a street/ A woman and a man meet in a bar”), a storytelling game to amuse their infant and whose rhetoric is designed to make connections for the audience. For the angst they’re feeling in the nursery is amplified by a sense that the horrors of the world outside are seeping in – baby’s first existential crisis. Continue reading “Review: In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises), Gate”