Review: Ugly / Sherlock Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia! (and other stories), Tristan Bates Theatre

This week, the Tristan Bates Theatre showcases two strong shows with all-female casts and creatives in Ugly and Sherlock Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia! (and other stories)

“In a world that profits from self doubt, liking yourself is an act of rebellion”

Written by Perdita Stott and directed by Danäe Cambrook, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ugly is a devised piece, such is its rambunctious energy and freeform nature. Tackling societal conceptions of beauty and the challenge they place on women who may feel they don’t, or can’t live up to that image, a company of five play thirty different women whose stories all centre on the notion of self-image.

It is inventively and intriguingly done. Cheerleader routines morph into powerful speeches, gospel songs slide into Disney fever dreams, a keep fit session sit right next to aerobic exercise of the bedroom kind. This approach can feel a little scattergun at times, but it is anchored by a deep sincerity to the words being spoken. As tale is layered upon tale, a weightiness is gathered which ultimately feels more effective than what might have been achieved through your regular narrative drive. Continue reading “Review: Ugly / Sherlock Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia! (and other stories), Tristan Bates Theatre”

Review: Macbeth, London Welsh Centre

“I dare do all that may become a man”

There’s something quite pleasing about the flourishing of a number of all-female Shakespeare productions around the place – the Donmar has Henry IVHenry V is being tackled by Lazarus Theatre Company later this month and Tigz Theatre presented a wee run of the Scottish play which I caught at the London Welsh Centre. The more regularly they appear, (hopefully) the less fuss will be made about such things happening and we won’t have to endure any more torturous thought-pieces from Mark Lawson.

That said, it would also mean that there’s more opportunities to fail, as well as succeed, in the task. And I have to say that this production of Macbeth was closer to the former than the latter for me, a lack of purpose and clarity about what is was trying to say (notions of power and gender are unexplored, and the staging has little to say about the psychological motivation of Macbeth or Lady M as they chase the corrupting power of the crown) or do (hints of early 20th century fascism were striking but ultimately just clashed with the storytelling. Continue reading “Review: Macbeth, London Welsh Centre”