Powerfully acted by Nicola Walker, Alun Armstrong anf Maggie Steed, Mark Ravenhill’s cleverly written The Cane is bracing stuff at the Royal Court
“These children now can hunt out anybody’s grievance and claim it as their own…they want to be offended”
Inspired by Mark Ravenhill’s realisation that some teachers retiring now would have been active when corporal punishment was outlawed in 1986, The Cane is his first new play for a goodly while. And directed by Vicky Featherstone, it is a strikingly intriguing piece of drama which has as much to say about contemporary outrage culture as it does the abuses of the past.
Edward is marking 45 years as a teacher and preparations for his retirement do are in full swing. A mob has trapped him and his wife Maureen in their own home though, inflamed by his past use of the cane, and the arrival of their daughter Anna is little comfort as she is long-estranged. And as it turns out she has both a personal and professional interest here, the atmosphere within proves no less febrile than without. Continue reading “Review: The Cane, Royal Court”
I go back to debbie tucker green’s ear for eye because sometimes, you just have to
“Change don’t give-a-fuck
change gone do its thing with or without you.”
Not too much to add about ear for eye that I didn’t already say in my original review but it was a play that I kept thinking about, reading and re-reading, and decided that I needed to see again to really get that confrontational power that it possesses. A bit disappointed to see a few people making a dash for it, clearly too much of a challenge for them but you have to laud debbie tucker green for creating the kind of structurally ingenious and politically urgent work that provokes such some emotion.
Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Stephen Cummiskey
eye for ear is booking at the Royal Court until 24th November
ear for eye, debbie tucker green’s new play for the Royal Court is ferocious and uncompromising and challenging and quite often breath-taking
“This is harder for us than it is for you”
debbie tucker green’s new play play ear for eye is ferocious and uncompromising and challenging and quite often breath-taking. Tackling the current state of racism in both the UK and the US, a triptych of wildly diverse parts bind together green’s innate linguistic power with an acutely pointed experiential style and a determination to really make you listen.
Played at two hours without an interval, green thus presents us with what it is to be black today. The first is a tangle of overlapping voices, mothers advising sons how to deal with contact with the police, victim of harassment, activists looking to galvanise the struggle. Scenes are repeated in different voices, viscerally contrasting those experiences (particularly when the hand gestures scene is replayed with BSL).
Then we switch to a tightly wound duologue (Lashana Lynch and Demetri Goritsas, both excellent) as a black student talks, discusses, argues with a white professor about the violence meted out by white men in school shooting and bombings etc. She’s adamant it is indicative of systemic, structural racism, he’s sure they’re all lone wolves, but the power dynamics here are astonishing as we’re swept right into the maelstrom of mansplaining mendacity as he battles to exert his authority.
Finally, the third section is a filmed segment, white people reciting the horrific detail of some of the Jim Crow laws, seemingly the basis for segregation in the US. And lest we British get too complacent, it is followed by extracts from UK slave codes, tracing the historic links of these pernicious rules, literally codified into society and seemingly impossible to shake off. It is hard to take and that is pretty much green’s point (and why there’s no interval to slope off shamefully).
green directs with laser-like precision, Vicki Manderson’s movement creating beautiful tableaux as the sixteen-strong ensemble endlessly switch and reconfigure. And Merle Hansel’s monolithic set frames this opening sequence with real visual flair, under Paule Constable’s elegant lighting choices. ear for eye is as challenging as theatre gets, as art gets, but make no mistake as to how vital it is. (And what a year Kayla Meikle is having!)
Running time: 2 hours (without interval)
Photos: Stephen Cummiskey
eye for ear is booking at the Royal Court until 24th November
All hail the return of Nicola Walker to the stage! Get your tickets for Camelot! Discover the Heart of Darkness! Get your exam in musical theatre singing with ABRSM!
London Musical Theatre Orchestra has announced casting for Saturday’s concert version of Camelot at the London Palladium and there’s still a few tickets going. Packed with some of musical theatre’s best songs, LMTO’s concert version with full orchestra will celebrate the centenary of Alan Jay Lerner’s birth.
The role of Arthur will be played by Olivier Award-winner David Thaxton (Passion / Les Misérables / Jesus Christ Superstar), Guenevere will be played by Savannah Stevenson (Wicked / Aspects of Love / Follies), and Lancelot will be played by internationally renowned opera star Charles Rice (Mozart’s Requiem / The Barber of Seville / Candide). Continue reading “Friday feeling – news aplenty”
I round up some of the recent casting news, including Queen Margaret at the Royal Exchange, Wasted at the Southwark Playhouse, Measure for Measure at the Donmar and The Woods at the Royal Court.
Shakespeare wrote more lines for Queen Margaret than he did for King Lear yet we know very little of her. Jeanie O’Hare re-acquaints us with one of Shakespeare’s major but rarely performed characters in her new play Queen Margaret. In a production that draws on original language from Shakespeare, director Elizabeth Freestone and Jade Anouka as Margaret, retell an iconic moment in British History through the eyes of the extraordinary Margaret of Anjou. This captivating exploration of The Wars of the Roses seen through the eyes of this astonishing, dangerous and thrilling woman opens the Royal Exchange’s Autumn Winter 2018/19 Season.
Anouka is joined by Islam Bouakkaz (Prince Edward/Rutland), Lorraine Bruce (York), Samuel Edward-Cook (Suffolk/Clifford), Dexter Flanders (Edward IV), Helena Lymbery (Hume), Lucy Mangan (Joan of Arc), Roger Morlidge (Gloucester), Kwami Odoom (Somerset/Richard), Bridgitta Roy (Warwick) and Max Runham (Henry VI). Continue reading “Casting news aplenty!”
What happens when whack-a-doodle becomes wearying – find out in Pity at the Royal Court
“What happens next is verging on the ridiculous”
Things start off well at Rory Mullarkey’s Pity. We’re directed to the rear of the Royal Court, enter through the back and get to walk over the stage with tombolas, ice-creams and brass bands all around (I’d happily listen to the Fulham Brass Band’s version of ‘Hello, Dolly’ all day). Chloe Lamford’s design certainly looks a treat in all its cartoon-comic brightness but ultimately, is indicative of a real issue with Sam Pritchard’s production.
“You need to turn your attentions to different people”
For Mullarkey’s play is concerned with violence – paradigm-shifting, society-shattering violence and the way that the British might very well respond to it. And as he suggests that we’d react to the collapse of civiliisation by making a cup of tea, you can’t help but wonder, really? On the one hand, everything here is telling you not to take things so seriously. On the other, communities across the world are being ripped apart in actual conflicts. It’s a tension that never satisfactorily resolves here. Continue reading “Review: Pity, Royal Court”
A pair of stunning monologues don’t get the public acclaim I think they deserve, as Sea Wall steals headlines from Notes From The Field and My Name Is Lucy Barton
“What are your dreams?”
It bugs me a little that Sea Wall is getting so much attention as God’s gift to the monologue, when there’s two exceptional example of the form selling out major theatres in London right now. No disrespect to Simon Stephens or Andrew Scott but you do wonder whether it is the fact that they’re female-led that means Notes From The Field and My Name Is Lucy Barton haven’t quite broken through in the same way.
It is probably just the enduring Sherlock effect, for we’re talking about artists of the stature of Anna Deavere Smith and Laura Linney who can boast a whole host of Tony and Academy Award nominations between them, plus TV credits from such shows as The West Wing, Frasier and The Big C. And it ain’t as if they haven’t been getting rave reviews either. Continue reading “Review: Notes From The Field / My Name Is Lucy Barton”
“My mind’s telling me no…”
As The Prudes is still in previews and given the nature of the way Anthony Neilson works, I ain’t gonna write a review but just offer up these images as an obscure preview.
Running time: currently around 80 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Manuel Harlan
The Prudes is booking at the Royal Court until 2nd June
Some stunning design work elevates new play Instructions for Correct Assembly at the Royal Court
“Of course they’re a bit more unreliable, these flatpack ones”
Instructions for Thomas Eccleshare’s Instructions for Correct Assembly
Take a Verity Bargate Award-winning (for Pastoral) playwright and give him his Royal Court debut with a gently futuristic play about families and failures and robot surrogates.
Find a director with real previous in quirky stagings at the Royal Court (Goats, Who Cares, Teh Internet is Serious Business) and a designer up for the challenge of maintaining the ingenious and striking look of current main house productions with its middle-class modernity.
Up the ante by introducing illusionist Paul Kieve into the mix to put together some properly mind-boggling trickery and have a crack stage management team under Kate Aisling Jones’ leadership support actor Brian Vernel in accomplishing said illusions.
Pull together a top-notch cast including the always good Mark Bonnar (returning to the stage after six years) and the wonderful Jane Horrocks.
Continue reading “Review: Instructions for Correct Assembly, Royal Court”
One of the absolute hottest tickets in town – Carey Mulligan scorches the stage in Dennis Kelly’s Girls and Boys at the Royal Court in London
“I don’t remember exactly when things with us started to go properly wrong – I just remember suddenly finding myself in it.”
A cheeky revisit to a matinée of Girls and Boys and one definitely worth making as knowing what was coming, having the 360 about the subject matter, brings with it a wonderful but terrible weight. New significances emerge, preconceptions are recalibrated, the heart sinks a lot heavier a little earlier.
My review from last time can be read here and there’s not too much more to add, aside from it is well worth stalking the website for returns or putting an early evening aside to queue at the theatre. Oh, and the show was definitely robbed in the Olivier nominations.