Review: The Incident Room, New Diorama

A powerful study into the five year police investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper, The Incident Room puts important voices first at the New Diorama Theatre

“I didn’t know Yorkshiremen had it in ’em”

Olivia Hirst and David Byrne’s The Incident Room was seen in Edinburgh last summer but it arrives at the New Diorama now in an expanded version with added interval (all the more opportunity to get one of the tasty Anzac cookies from the café). And most importantly for this blog’s purposes, it stars lovely Danny from Jumpers for Goalposts, aka the equally lovely Jamie Samuel (in a policeman’s uniform, just so you know). 

But back to the matter at hand. The incident room of The Incident Room is the Millgarth Incident Room, the hub of the 1970s police manhunt for the serial killer dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper. But far from glorifying his crimes, the focus here is on the investigation itself, looking at a police force that has only just started to admit women into its ranks and also at the trials of running a major data-driven inquiry in pre-digital times. Continue reading “Review: The Incident Room, New Diorama”

Review: Antigone, New Diorama

Holy What’s Antigone at the New Diorama shifts the focus of Sophocles’ play onto two young sisters to powerful effect

“Do you think they’ll come back from the war…both of them?”

There’s a pleasing trend toward giving voice to the under-represented through revisiting familiar narratives (cf Six, & Juliet; Teenage Dick) and Holy What’s new production of Antigone makes for a fine addition to that canon. Lulu Raczka’s adaptation of Sophocles’ Greek classic resites the story as an ongoing  interaction between the two sisters Antigone and Ismene and proves all the more compelling for it.

The result is a restless psychological study that forefronts sisterhood, teenage emotion and the impact that trauma has on those left behind. Set in the elegant but eerie space of Lizzie Leech’s metatheatrical design, Tig and Issy play a series of games to try and distract themselves from the fact that their Uncle Creon has locked them in while their brothers Eteocles and Polynices wage civil war against each other. But games only go so far… Continue reading “Review: Antigone, New Diorama”

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”

10 questions for 10 years – Sasha Wilson

How could you not love someone who would rather have an interval pint than an ice-cream?! Out of the Forest Theatre’s Sasha Wilson gets her 10 questions on

In the space of just a handful of shows, Out of the Forest Theatre have completely won my heart, their music-infused ensemble-based approach proving utterly compelling whether exploring Lizzie Borden’s legacy in Bury the Hatchet or ripping Arthur Miller (and many others) a new one in Call Me Fury. So I was delighted that their Artistic Director Sasha Wilson, cape-wearer extraordinaire, agreed to answer 10 questions for me.

Review: Art Heist, New Diorama

A lot of charm in Poltergeist’s Art Heist at the New Diorama Theatre, which doesn’t quite disguise a lack of substance

“How would a frame contain it?”

Criticising Art Heist feels a little bit like kicking a puppy, such is the charm of Poltergeist, the young and effusive company who took this show to Edinburgh this summer. A slightly retooled version appears at the New Diorama but despite an abundance of that charm, it doesn’t quite stick the landing.

Three art thieves all break into the same gallery at the same time to steal the same painting, while a security guard longs for a sandwich and the gift shop proves quite the distraction. To be sure we’re not quite in Ocean’s Eleven territory here, we’re not even in The Thomas Crown AffairContinue reading “Review: Art Heist, New Diorama”

Review: Conspiracy, New Diorama Theatre

Barrel Organ’s emotionally open Conspiracy puts the conspiracy theorists under the spotlight at the New Diorama Theatre

“Take it away from the carpeted area”

The world of conspiracy theories is an easy one to mock but though Barrel Organ’s Conspiracy runs the gamut from Area 51 to Princess Diana’s death via Elvis, JFK and the moon landing, there’s something much more sophisticated, and sympathetic, at work here. Rather, the focus is on the people who buy into those theories, those develop and defend them so avidly, and the cost that pursuing ‘truth’ has on both themselves and their relationships.

The jumping off point of Jack Perkins’ text is the iconic 1932 photograph ‘Lunch Atop A Skyscraper’ – you know, the one from Act 2 of Heartbeat of Home – and to begin with, the amiable trio of Rose Wardlaw, Azan Ahmed and Shannon Hayes take us on a beguiling journey through their meticulous research into all the problems they’ve found. Dates that don’t match up, names that can’t be found, clouds doing the wrong thing, lunchboxes that don’t convince…gotta be a fake right? Continue reading “Review: Conspiracy, New Diorama Theatre”

Winners for The Stage Debut Awards 2019

Best Actress in a Play – sponsored by Audible

  • Liv Hill for Top Girls at the National Theatre, London
  • Urielle Klein-Mekongo for Yvette at the Bush Theatre, London
  • WINNER Lauren O’Leary for The Awkward Years at The Other Room, Cardiff
  • Bea Webster for Mother Courage at the Albion Electric Warehouse, Leeds

Best Actor in a Play – sponsored by Audible

  • WINNER Jamal Ajala for ear for eye at the Royal Court, London
  • Stuart Campbell for The Hunt at the Almeida Theatre, London
  • Patrick Gibson for Sweat at the Donmar Warehouse and the Gielgud Theatre, London
  • Ivan Oyik for Blue/Orange at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham

Continue reading “Winners for The Stage Debut Awards 2019”

10 questions for 10 years – Stewart Pringle

Is Stewart Pringle a closet Wicked fan? Find out this and more as he goes in 10 for 10

Writer, dramaturg, former reviewer and Artistic Director, candlestick-maker – Stewart Pringle has worn many hats (and one of those might be a fib). His reviews for The Stage were always ones to treasure but his Papatango-winning play Trestle was a proper minor-key delight 

  • Where were you 10 years ago?

    Finishing my MPhil dissertation, so lost in a quagmire of batty mid-20th century occultists. I’d forsaken the theatre to try to become an academic, which lasted for all of about 18 months before it pulled me back in. I tried to escape again in 2012 and that time I lasted for about 4 weeks. I won’t be trying it a third time. Continue reading “10 questions for 10 years – Stewart Pringle”

Review: Thirty Christmases, New Diorama

“Don’t be a prick at Christmas”

As many of us lurch from swapping random Secret Santa gifts at office parties to necking eggnog at pantos (just me?!) in preparation for the culinary bliss that is my dad’s Christmas dinner, it is easy to forget that the festive season is necessarily a happy one for everyone. And it is this feeling that Supporting Wall’s Thirty Christmases (in association with Arts at the Old Fire Station and the New Diorama) is concerned with exploring, through this bittersweetly wry and affecting comedy.

Written by Jonny Donahoe and directed by Alice Hamilton, it’s the story of siblings Jonny and Rachel who haven’t spent Christmas together in nearly ten years due to a big falling out. Through the efforts of their mutual friend Paddy, they’ve come together to delve into their shared past to try and work out their issues, for it turns out they’ve never actually had a conventional Christmas at all, due to a chaotic upbringing by their single-parent socialist firebrand of a father. Continue reading “Review: Thirty Christmases, New Diorama”

Review: Contractions, ND2

“We have a duty of care to all our employees”

I may not be a Deaf Critic but I am a critic who is partially deaf, a state of affairs positions me rather uniquely when it comes to appreciating Deafinitely Theatre’s latest production – a bilingual version of Mike Bartlett’s 2008 two-hander Contractions. Bilingual as a matter of course, as all of Deafinitely’s productions are in using British Sign Language and English but bilingual too as a provocation, in that director Paula Garfield uses neither language continuously.

So as we sit through a series of business meetings between a brutally officious manager (who signs) and corporate wannabe Emma (who both speaks and signs), there’s an ingenious sense of dislocation, of delayed and incomplete comprehension, which is as incisive a theatrical representation of what it is like to be deaf in a hearing world as I could ever imagine. And it is a fascinating way to portray the brutal acuity that typifies much of Bartlett’s small-scale plays and their sharp dialogue. Continue reading “Review: Contractions, ND2”