Nominees for the 8th annual Mousetrap Awards

BEST FEMALE PERFORMER AWARD:
Marisha Wallace as Effie in Dreamgirls
Natalie Kassanga, as Diana Ross in Motown the Musical
Patsy Ferran as Alma in Summer and Smoke
Jodie Steele as Chandler in Heathers

BEST MALE PERFORMER AWARD:
Jonny Labey, as Scott in Strictly Ballroom
John Pfumojena, as Okot in The Jungle
Kyle Soller, as Eric Glass in The Inheritance
John McCrea, as Jamie in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Continue reading “Nominees for the 8th annual Mousetrap Awards”

Blogged: shaking up Shakespeare

I have a mixed time with some shaken-up Shakespeares – othellomacbeth at the Lyric Hammersmith; Twelfth Night at the Young Vic; Much Ado About Nothing at the Watford Palace; and Measure for Measure at the Donmar

“Condemn the fault and not the actor of it?”

I’m the first to say that modern adaptations of Shakespeare need to do something different to justify their place in today’s theatre ecology. Lord knows there’s been enough traditional renditions of his work, and still they come, and even if there are always going to be people coming for the first time, there’s also a real need to make his plays speak to contemporary society in a way that is unafraid to challenge his reputation. It is perhaps no surprise that it is female directors and directors of colour who are at the forefront of doing just that and there have been four key examples in London most recently – Jude Christian’s othellomacbeth at the Lyric Hammersmith, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub’s Twelfth Night at the Young Vic, Brigid Larmour’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Watford Palace and Josie Rourke’s Measure for Measure at the Donmar.

And of course, having demanded that this is what directors do, I found myself disappointed at the majority of these, for some of the same reasons and some different ones too. Perhaps the most formally daring is Christian’s othellomacbeth which smashes together the two tragedies to create something which ends up less than the sum of its constituent parts. Its intentions are certainly noble, seeking to highlight the female voices in these plays and give them prominence. But the reality is that in the two substantially reduced treatments here, everything becomes diminished, not least narrative clarity. There’s one cracking idea which connects the two, which you suspect might have inspired the whole production, but ultimately, it is not enough to hang the whole thing on. Continue reading “Blogged: shaking up Shakespeare”

Review: Off Cut Festival Group 3, Riverside Studios

“Hey, let’s put on a play”

Due to a manic schedule this week, I was only able to attend one of the final two groups of plays in the Off Cut Festival, a fact which will annoy the completist in me something rotten, but I was pleased to at least have made it to three of the four. Reviews of Groups One and Two have already been posted, and here is a quick collection of thoughts about these plays before we head into the final week when the top two plays from each group will play for the week, ahead of the final at which the winners will be decided.

Head and shoulders above the rest for me was Mark Wright’s Looking for Vi, a gently cautionary tale about the effects of obsessive fandom on both the super-fan and on the subject too, as geeky Julia tracks down reclusive former soapstar Vi in an old person’s home in order to complete a set of signatures from her favourite TV show. But behind this simple task lies deep wells of emotion for both women and they are given beautiful depth by Maroussia Frank and Joy Blakeman. Another of my favourites was Hannah Williams Walton’s Memories of Loss, an intertwining tale of two stories of tragic loss and the histories behind the relationships. It was a quietly moving piece and given interesting direction by Ali Anderson-Dyer and it was something I felt that could be developed into something quite intriguing. Continue reading “Review: Off Cut Festival Group 3, Riverside Studios”