Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

In his first season as artistic director of Theatre N16, Scott Ellis presents a slew of new writing.
Olympilads by Andrew Maddock, produced by Lonesome Schoolboy and directed by Niall Phillips, reunites the team that presented He(art) at Theatre N16 earlier this year. Theatre N16 executive director (and former artistic director) Jamie Eastlake will present his new show Deadline Day by John Hickman and Steve Robertson: a bitter sweet tale about football, greed and the North-South divide.
Ten emerging artists debut a selection of original and varied works exploring feminism today in Maiden Speech: A festival of fresh feminist voices. Theatre N16 will also produce a new play by Sarah Milton, directed by Scott Ellis.

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Review: HE(ART), TheatreN16

“This? In your chest? It can be stronger than it’s ever been”

An interesting change of tack here from Andrew Maddock, who has been steadily carving out a niche for himself in doing creative things in and around the world of monologues (qv #1, #2, #3). Opening at Balham’s TheatreN16, HE(ART) starts in a Maddockian (Maddockish? Maddockesque?) way with two separate duologues intercut with each other, and playing out at the same time. But over the running time of just more than an hour, it transforms into transgressively exciting.

Staged in the round (well, the square) in a boxing ring-like space in this production by Lonesome Schoolboy, In the one corner we have young couple Alice and Rhys doing battle over what kind of art they want to buy for their living room. And in the other, there’s siblings Kev and Sam, gearing up for an altogether different kind of conflict, characterised by the fact that the former should be in prison.  Continue reading “Review: HE(ART), TheatreN16”

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.
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Review: The We Plays, Hope Theatre

“Get me the fuck off this plane
Or allow me to remain humane”

Following on from the success of The Me Plays at the Old Red Lion and in/out (a feeling) here at the Hope earlier this year, Andrew Maddock’s The We Plays reaffirms his status as an exciting new playwright and one with an innate appreciation of what a monologue can do. The We Plays is made up of two stories, with two directors, but united by Maddock’s understanding of what it means to be young but not necessarily sorted in contemporary society.

Cyprus Sunsets reintroduces the character of Me, a young man larging it from the minute we walk into the room as he sets off on a trip to the Mediterranean island, loaded with far more significance than we might ever suspect; Irn Pru is told from the perspective of none other than Prucilla Elizabeth Ally McCoist a Wee Dash of Salt N’Pepa Leigh, a feisty Glaswegian battling a tough job market among various other demons that gradually reveal themselves. Continue reading “Review: The We Plays, Hope Theatre”

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: The Me Plays, Old Red Lion

“I can be a top man”

In a (cultural) world that is arguably dominated by white men, there are precious few pieces of work that probe with any real insight into the world of modern masculinity, the challenges a regular heterosexual male has to face in a fast-changing world that does little but tell him to check his privilege. The Me Plays, Andrew Maddock’s pair of self-performed, semi-autobiographical monologues achieve just that though, in a remarkable piece of spoken word performance that balances humour and pathos perfectly.

Both are told from the perspective of ‘Me’, a pretty stand-up guy but one who is battling his own demons. In Junkie, we see him exploring the world of modern dating, specifically through the app Tinder and a forthcoming date with the lovely-sounding Tabitha, but struggling under the untrammelled bounty of internet porn available at the click of any of his digital devices. Maddock skilfully traces an emotional journey through troubled self-image, damaging addictions and societal expectations he can never reach. Continue reading “Review: The Me Plays, Old Red Lion”