Review: Theatre Uncut 2014, Soho Theatre

“Knock knock,
Who’s there,
The Welfare State…”

The Theatre Uncut initiative was set up in 2010 as a response to the proposed government cuts in arts spending as it invited a number of playwrights to write short plays which would then be available to download and perform “rights-free in a week of mass theatrical action”. An impressive array of writers – Neil LaBute, Mark Ravenhill, Lucy Kirkwood – have gotten involved across the past few years and one of this year’s best new plays – Clara Brennan’s Spine – started life in this format in 2012.

Devised as a way of creating a rapid response to current political concerns, this year’s theme has coalesced around the provovation ‘Knowledge is Power, Knowledge is Change’ and the five writers collaboratively involved are Anders Lustgarten, Clara Brennan, Inua Ellams, Vivienne Franzmann and Hayley Squires. And a motley crew they make up, punching hard with a raw energy that is variable and visceral and vocal and vibrant. Continue reading “Review: Theatre Uncut 2014, Soho Theatre”

Review: Spine, Soho Theatre

“There’s nothing more terrifying than a teenager with something to say”

Among many things, this blog is useful for reminding me of exactly how I felt about this production or that actor but in some cases, I don’t need to be reminded. Seeing Rosie Wyatt in a solo piece for the first time (in Jack Thorne’s Bunny back in 2011) was a genuine revelation, at the time I was always unsure about monologues and hardly went to any and it is no overstatement to say she changed my mind about a whole genre – that’ll be why she was ranked as one of the top six female performances of the year for me. So it was no surprise to see me at the Soho Theatre Upstairs (again) on a dark October evening (again) to see Wyatt (again) in a solo show (again). Creatures of habit… us?

This time round it is Clara Brennan’s Spine to which she is giving her unbridled dramatic energy, inhabiting the play and the space so thoroughly that she ought to charge other people rent for coming in to use it when she’s not there. It’s quite a remarkable thing to watch, seeing her perform, as she flicks so effortlessly between the two characters of the show – ferocious but fragile Amy and perceptive pensioner Glenda – and traces the growing if unlikely friendship between the pair as circumstance thrusts them together. She demands the full attention too, some may baulk from the direct eye contact but it is such an integral part of the theatrical transaction here that it ought to be compulsory to embrace it. Be warned though, Wyatt takes literally no prisoners! Continue reading “Review: Spine, Soho Theatre”