Review: in/out (a feeling), Hope Theatre

 “No sensation, just…feeling”

There’s nothing like live theatre. For all the benefits of increased access in filming shows (Gypsy on BBC4 over Christmas being a great example), nothing compares to the thrill of that unique communication between performer and audience, that which electrifies and enhances. And it’s something that is in plentiful supply at the Hope Theatre right now, in Andrew Maddock’s new play in/out (a feeling), directed by Niall Phillips for his Lonesome Schoolboy company.

Within the first five minutes, Alex Reynolds’ baleful stare as sex worker Blue had me utterly pinned me to my seat and wanting to apologise to her on behalf of all men, such is the raw intensity of both her performance and Maddock’s writing. Inspired in part by the extraordinary play Elegy and real-life testimony of women affected by trafficking, Blue’s account of how she has become entrapped and entwined in her situation simply burns with its quiet directness. Continue reading “Review: in/out (a feeling), Hope Theatre”

Review: Hello Again, Hope

“The bed was not my own”
 

Round and round and round we go, Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde has inspired many an adaptation, so much so that the Hope Theatre’s Hello Again can’t even boast of being the only one on Upper Street (F**king Men at the King’s Head newly extending into December). But it is the only musical version there, Michael John LaChiusa crafting the daisy chain of sexual encounters into a song cycle that moves from decade to decade just as much as it does from bed to bed.

The show is made up of 10 two-handers, connected by one character remaining in the next scene, so first we have The Whore and The Soldier, then The Soldier and The Nurse, The Nurse and The College Boy and so on until The Senator and The Whore completes the cycle. But the timeline is played non-chronologically, the characters aren’t necessarily the same person from scene to scene, the only real connection is the multitude of ways in which sex is used and abused in our daily lives, no matter how sexuality is perceived in that particular age. Continue reading “Review: Hello Again, Hope”

Review: The Window / Blank Pages, Hope Theatre

“I expect you to tell me what you can see”

 

Frank Marcus’ best-known play The Killing of Sister George will soon be revived at the London Theatre Workshop over Fulham way but right now, there’s a chance to see the first UK revival of two of his short plays at the Hope Theatre on Upper Street. And in a serendipitous turn of events, Mingled Yarn’s production is directed by Rafaella Marcus, the playwright’s granddaughter, who selected The Windowand Blank Pages to present in this double bill.

In Rūta Irbīte’s elegant, existentially vague timber-framed set, Marcus Senior’s separate but interconnected tales of loneliness play out with a nigglingly insistent sense of claustrophobia, well cultivated by Marcus Junior’s astute direction. Both shorts delve into the lives of people caught in melancholy recollections of the past and how overindulgence thereof can make a prisoner of even the most outgoing of selves. Continue reading “Review: The Window / Blank Pages, Hope Theatre”

Review: Ushers: The Front of House Musical, Hope Theatre

“No-one moves to London with the dream of becoming an usher”

A Britney Spears jukebox musical with Marti Pellow as Kevin Federline and Michael Ball as Britney’s mum? Stranger things have happened on a West End stage but this is the (as yet fictional) set-up for Ushers: The Front of House Musical which follows the hope and dreams and frustrations and failures of a front of house team on a busy night at a West End theatre. And naturally it is playing at a fringe theatre, London’s newest in the form of The Hope Theatre, perched atop The Hope and Anchor pub on Upper Street and the only such theatre to be committed exclusively to new writing.

And with Ushers, it has alighted on something of a little delight. The story may be slight but it manages to pack a lot in in covering the travails of four long-standing ushers, a newcomer into their ranks and their overwrought supervisor. The new girl and the hot guy immediately fancy each other, the cute gay couple are struggling with one of their’s decision to take an acting job in Austria, another girl can’t keep from tweeting pictures of the cast and the supervisor has gone power-mad at the prospect of schmoozing with a major new potential investor. Continue reading “Review: Ushers: The Front of House Musical, Hope Theatre”