News: Lockdown Theatre Festival brings four cancelled shows to radio

Plays by writers including Mike Bartlett and EV Crowe that were forced to close early because of the pandemic will be revived on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 as part of a festival created by actor Bertie Carvel.

Lockdown Theatre Festival will feature actors including Katherine Parkinson, Rachael Stirling and Nicholas Burns, who will record their lines in isolation, to reimagine their performances for specially created radio versions of the plays.

The plays, which will be broadcast on June 13 and 14, are: The Mikvah Project by Josh Azouz, which had been running at the Orange Tree Theatre, the Lyric Hammermith Theatre’s Love Love Love by Bartlett, Winsome Pinnock’s Rockets and Blue Lights, from the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and Crowe’s Shoe Lady, which was being staged by the Royal Court in London. Continue reading “News: Lockdown Theatre Festival brings four cancelled shows to radio”

Review: The Sewing Group, Royal Court

“This is what we call a safe space”

When I was at primary school, we did a thing in needlepoint where we sewed seemingly random shapes in a line and only when we’d finished and Mrs Holcroft (I think it was) told us to look at the spaces inbetween, did we see that we’d made a handicraft tribute to Jesus. That’s still the first thing I think of when I think of sewing and there’s a tenuously similar link of ‘do you see what it is yet’ to The Sewing Group, EV Crowe’s new play for the Royal Court.

Stewart Laing’s production opens in the bare timber of a log cabin where two women are sewing. Enigmatically short scenes, sometimes containing just a single glance, interspersed with total blackouts offer tantalising threads to follow – an outsider joins this rural community but her mere presence in the group soon becomes a disruption, leading to more than just dropped stitches in the slow and increasingly strange unfolding of the story. Continue reading “Review: The Sewing Group, Royal Court”

Review: Midsummer Mischief B, The Other Place

Asked to respond to the provocation “well behaved women seldom make history”, 4 writers have produced 4 plays, Programme B of the RSC’s Midsummer Mischief contains the plays I Can Hear You by EV Crowe and This Is Not An Exit by Abi Zakarian and as with Programme A, I am expressing myself through the medium of Rupaul’s Drag Race (gifs courtesy of  Fuck Yeah Drag Race) – mischief indeed.
Once again, the seating. It may well leave you like this.

And though I’m onside with the feminists, I have to say this double bill left me disappointed.

Some may not be surprised I didn’t like Crowe’s piece (we do have history…) but though it may seem I am…
…I do try to remain open-minded, honestly. This “naturalistic supernatural” story achieves little though.
And Zakarian, a writer with whom I was previously unfamiliar, also failed to make much real impact.
So whilst I wouldn’t want to be accused of being too harsh…
…there’s no doubt that out of the pair of them, Programme B needs to sashay away.
Running time: 1 hours 50 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 12th July and then playing the Royal Court 15th-17thJuly

Review: Virgin, Watford Palace Theatre

“We’ll just wait 5 minutes for the email to send”

EV Crowe’s latest play Virgin comes to us under the auspices of Watford Palace’s Ideal World season, exploring the way that the digital revolution has impacted on human relationships, but it crowbars so much into its 80 minutes that the brief ends up feeling a little constrictive. Working mother Emily toils away in local government and is determined that a project to bring high-speed broadband to her rural village will be the springboard to get her out of the admin office. But with a younger, web-savvy generation snapping at her heels, she is forced to confront the limitations of her own bandwidth.

Laura Elphinstone imbues the spiky Emily with a remarkably conflicted complexity – her ambition thwarted by men, her maternal instinct disguised by stress, her warmly hesitant optimism at connecting the village tempered by her treatment of loyal husband Mark, Michael Shelford adorable in a range of chunky knits. And she is contrasted well by Rosie Wyatt as cuckoo-in-the-nest Sally, the consultant who comes to stay in their home whilst helping out on the project and the embodiment of a tech-confident but socially-awkward youth, happier online than IRL. Continue reading “Review: Virgin, Watford Palace Theatre”

Not-a-Review: Rough Cuts – Searched, Royal Court

“He opened his laptop and didn’t like what he saw”

The second part of the Royal Court’s 2013 Rough Cuts mini-season based around the internet, was a work-in-progress from EV Crowe named Searched. I hadn’t initially intended to see this play as Crowe really provoked my ire with her last play Hero, it still annoys me to think of it now, but once the cast was announced I knew I would be powerless to resist. And whilst I might have preferred a little more cooling off time and a slightly more appropriate environment, I find it is always good to test one’s preconceptions and so I was willing to give a second chance to the young playwright.

Since this was a work-in-progress, workshopped by Crowe, the company and director Carrie Cracknell over the last 10 days, I won’t say too much about it, save to mention that it really is a pleasure to be able to see such great actors up close and personal in such an early stage of a project, even with script in hand there’s a genuine openness to the performances, a freshness to the acting which is great to see.  Continue reading “Not-a-Review: Rough Cuts – Searched, Royal Court”

Review: Hero, Royal Court

“I don’t want us to look…naïve”

EV Crowe’s new play Hero sees her return to the Royal Court to be reunited with director Jeremy Herrin, but in this tale of two male primary school teachers – one gay and one straight – and the messages they convey both in the personal and the public sphere, everyone seems to have overstretched themselves considerably. The impossibly handsome Liam Garrigan plays Danny, in the midst of applying to adopt a child with husband Joe and seemingly unafraid of anything to do with his sexuality. Daniel May’s Jamie however, struggling to conceive with wife Lisa, reacts incredibly badly when one of his pupils calls him gay, setting in train a troubling chain of events and revelations that spiral wildly out of control. 

Everywhere, questionable decisions abound. The structure that folds back on itself at the beginning of the second act reveals nothing new in the replaying of the timeline and just muddies the narrative. The incredibly vivid image of the opening monologue is something that is never revisited, suggesting a real missed opportunity. The use of a Julie London record to signify doubts of a character’s sexuality feels as immature a choice as those exposed in the play and never, personally at least, felt justified by the writing itself. And funny lines are peppered throughout the script but appear at the most random of places, keeping the tone of the piece frequently off-kilter and repeatedly sacrificing the opportunity to explore issues with depth. Continue reading “Review: Hero, Royal Court”

The 2011 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards

Best Play
The Heretic by Richard Bean (Royal Court)
One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean (National’s Lyttelton)
Becky Shaw
 by Gina Gionfriddo (Almeida)
Tribes by Nina Raine (Royal Court)

Best Director
Mike Leigh for Grief (National’s Cottesloe)
Rob Ashford 
for Anna Christie (Donmar)
Dominic Cooke for Chicken Soup with Barley (Royal Court)
Edward Hall for Richard III & The Comedy of Errors (Propeller at Hampstead) Continue reading “The 2011 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards”

Review: Kin, Royal Court

“Small dogs in packs and pairs, doing what small dogs do”

Set in an all-girls boarding school in the 1990s, EV Crowe’s Kin is the last show of 2010 to show upstairs at the Royal Court. Crowe’s writing was also featured in Clean Break’s Charged at the Soho Theatre with the short play Doris Day about the challenges for modern policewomen but this show looks at what could happen when young girls are cooped together in the claustrophobic atmosphere of boarding school, away from familial guidance.

It focuses on two girls Mimi and Janey who have a complex friendship which is further complicated by another girl Nina accusing Janey of bullying. And so rivalries, burgeoning sexualities, precociousness and fraught emotions bubble up. The narrative is non-linear here though, a complicating factor which adds nothing and actually detracts from things as it all adds up to very little, fragments of scenes threatening to come to chilling life but hardly any actually achieving that and given the short running time combined with this structure, I didn’t feel like Crowe’s writing actually said anything and left me unmoved and completely indifferent to what I had just seen. Continue reading “Review: Kin, Royal Court”

Review: Doris Day – Charged, Soho Theatre

Part of the Charged season at Soho Theatre

“You make people think women like me, who’ve tried f**king hard, don’t belong in the police force”

An intriguing final piece for Charged 2 from EV Crowe, Doris Day, pits two young police officers with different outlooks on their experience in the force against each other as they clash over the way women are perceived in that institution, acceptable traits of behaviour and the survival strategies they each have in place. In the macho world of the police, they’ve both been the victim of harassment and sexism but choose to deal with it in mightily different ways with considerably different ramifications for each.

Rebecca Scroggs as the more determined of the two to tough it out presents a convincing argument of the benefits of gritting the teeth and taking one for the team as it were, but Crowe’s writing (soon to be seen too at the Royal Court Upstairs in Kin) carefully shows us a range of viewpoints and allows Emma Noakes’ Daisy to defend her different way of policing and her choices to challenge the sexism she has experienced even though it forced her into a transfer to another police force and thus garnered her a bit of reputation. Continue reading “Review: Doris Day – Charged, Soho Theatre”